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Groom 101: What to Know BEFORE Saying 'I Do'!

a cameo post by a former client, Elias Tapley

I’m no expert. While I’ve been to more than a dozen weddings, I’ve only had one of my own. After dating for two and a half years, Kalen and I decided to make it official and do the damn thing. With Samantha’s help, we started planning soon after the engagement in mid-March for our wedding the following February. My wife’s parents were very involved, from financial support to valuable aesthetic guidance and recommendations. My folks were more hands-off. They only stepped in to help when requested but remained encouraging and positive throughout the whole undertaking. Kalen is an only child; I’m one of four.

While Samantha was hugely instrumental in getting us organized and on track to pull off the ceremony and reception we were looking for, it was still intimidating for my wife and I to imagine planning it all. As the groom, it was especially intimidating for me. While Kalen had discussed her wedding vision with her mom and her friends who had already gotten married, that was not my experience at all. My guy friends overwhelmingly didn’t talk about their wedding planning experiences with me, and I hadn’t asked questions. My Pinterest wasn’t filled with examples of dusty rose and burgundy color palettes or chuppah designs. Never having been one for jewelry, I couldn’t visualize what kind of wedding band would feel right on my… what was it, middle finger? Thumb? Oh yes, ring finger! If it hadn’t been for helpful people pushing me in the right direction, I would have been lost.

Grooms: ask questions of your planner (if you have one) and your future partner. Do your research. Set expectations together on how involved you will be with the planning. Samantha has worked with many other grooms-to-be—and even some brides-to-be—whose eyes drew blanks when asked about seating charts, vendor gratuities, or wedding party attire.

A great place to start is Kaleidoscope’s Grooms 101 Checklist. Below, I will draw from my own perspective as a clueless groom and comment on some of the finer points from the compiled list.

Ring etiquette

Kalen inherited a ring from her grandmother, passed down to an aunt and then on to her. In some Jewish traditions, the unadorned ring is placed on the right-hand index finger, close to the heart. We practiced this ritual during our ceremony but also exchanged other rings that we had selected ourselves. Independently, we found and purchased bands we loved. We didn’t match metals or even styles. To be honest, I didn’t go into the ring shop with more than an idea of what color and texture I wanted it to be. Hearing my rough description, a sales rep showed me a ring I liked, and they had it fitted and ready for me within three weeks.

Wedding party

The restaurant we contracted to host our event had to have the dinner tables set up before the ceremony. If we wanted seamless transitions between us walking down the aisle as husband and wife, chugging a craft cocktail or two, and sitting down for our family-style dinner, that’s the way it had to be. This gave us limited space to have a wedding party standing next to us during the ceremony. Since both of us have sometimes debilitating anxiety about disappointing any of our friends or family, we were totally okay with not choosing a select few best buds to jam up there.

Our most special people were incorporated into the wedding weekend in other ways. They gave toasts or sang songs at the rehearsal dinner or reception. Kat and Nick, two of our closest friends who know both of us well together and apart, co-officiated the ceremony. We still got ready with friends and family before the wedding; nobody was offended, and everybody was able to wear the suit, tie, dress, or shoes they wanted to wear.

Groom’s attire

I waited until January 11th to choose a suit for our February 29th wedding. The last-minute timing was absolutely not ideal, but I got fitted by Indochino for a custom, midnight blue, cashmere blend two-piece suit that looked fantastic and fit like a glove. I got lucky; Indochino does offer tailoring if the suit needs alterations after you receive it in the mail. Given that it was delivered a little over a month before the wedding, I was glad not to have to send it back to Dalian, China. My backup was an off-the-rack Bonobos suit on hold that wouldn’t have needed any alterations at all. With Indochino, I saved at least $450.

Seating chart

This was the biggest headache for me. How do you divide up both sides of the family and all your friends in attendance into twelve tables, varying in size from four to twelve people? I made myself sick over this, which in hindsight seems like an overreaction. But there were exes attending! Kalen’s parents and their closest friends wanted to sit together! A friend had lost a family member recently, and I wanted to make sure he wasn’t feeling overwhelmed.

My recommendation is to go with your gut; prioritize a few table layouts or individual seatings that you know will bring the most joy and then plan around them. There will inevitably be changes that have to be made closer to the day, but try to spend no more than an hour on the initial seating chart (if planning for around 100 people, like us). So far, I haven’t heard of anybody who still resents us due to our layout. Other than during dinner, most people were on their feet dancing, waiting for drinks at the bar, or milling about during the reception.


Do it. You won’t regret another bottle of water, but you will regret a terrible hangover the morning after your wedding.

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