‘My fiancé takes no interest in planning our wedding’

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Dear A&E, 

My fiancé and I are getting married in May and he seems to have no interest in the planning. The venue is booked, but only because I did everything – from the research to the recce – and he doesn’t seem bothered about the food, music, flowers… anything. I’m doing it all with my mother and sister. 

We have lots of shared interests but his lack of enthusiasm is making me think he doesn’t care. I’m confused about how much to mind. 

– Discouraged

Dear Discouraged, 

Discouraged though you may be, we would counsel you not to take your fiancé’s lack of interest in wedding planning as a lack of interest in you. Or a lack of interest in marrying you. There is a difference between a wedding and a marriage. 

At the time, the wedding feels like the be all and end all but, in the end, it is almost incidental. A set of pretty pictures documenting the beginning of your married life but in no way reflective of it.

We don’t know many men who are ignited by flowers and canapés. Show him as many colour swatches as you like, but it might be hard for him to care. 

You are the one with the vision, you are leading the charge, and often the one leading the charge becomes a little bit… possessed. All the time and money, the detail and stress; it can be hard not to imbue your wedding with the power to represent everything about you as a couple. 

This is our love writ large. This is our love colour-coordinated. This is our love on a plate. This is our bouquet of love, our order of service of love, our playlist of love; these are our buttonholes of love. Now judge us on our love, our taste, our budget… Clearly that way madness can lie.

The patriarchal conditioning of women means that little girls will tend to see weddings as a goal while little boys don’t. The natural progression of this ‘dream wedding’ babble (in magazines, on Instagram, on television… everywhere) is that men can feel sidelined because the narrative is all around the bride. What will she wear? How thin will she be? 

Combine that with all the folkloric nonsense of something borrowed and blue, don’t wear green, don’t see each other the night before, and you have a whole mess of things that we simply don’t allow for or process in normal life. So of course it’s madly stressful and… other.

To exacerbate his possible feelings of relegation, there is the fact that you are bowling along with your mother and sister, which is lovely but potentially a little coven-like from his point of view. You are the Keepers of the Wedding. Quite an intimidating group. Easier to sit back and think, ‘I just want to marry the woman I love.’

Add the pandemic to this heady blend and remember how hard it has been to wholeheartedly plan anything for the past couple of years. He may be worried that it will be cancelled. He may be anxious about the money. About disappointment. Many of us are much more hesitant now; we’d rather dial things down than up.

So here are our suggestions: give him a little nudge and find out where he stands. ‘It would make me very happy if you were more involved in our wedding planning. Is there a reason why you are a bit disengaged?’ 

Give him a chance to offer his point of view. You might learn something that will set your mind at rest or discover something that you both need to deal with. And, once that conversation has begun, give him a job or two. Be specific. 

He may have an understandable apathy when it comes to choosing a cake flavour. But you might find that, once he knows that the wine or the music or the wedding car or the honeymoon is his responsibility, his interest expands to embrace more about the day.

Enjoy your planning, Discouraged. Bask in being the bride. But know that these things are rarely planned in equal partnership. 

One person is always air traffic control. Incidentally, most of the wedding-mad men we have come across have turned into deranged groomzillas who cry if the first-dance music is cued in a nano-second later than planned… Be careful what you wish for.


More from the Midults: 

What readers advised in response to last week’s problem: ‘How can I tell my husband that the novel he has written is terrible?’

@AliceTaylor: ‘I’ve started a dozen novels. Never finished any of them, so I admire someone who has. The advice to take yourself out of the loop is a good one. Encourage him to join a writer’s group, find and agent, and take a local writer’s course “to test the waters” and then step back and resist the urge to be his unofficial office manager/agent/mum.’

@CDowns: ‘Tell him to use a manuscript criticism service – there are plenty of experienced editors who will run a critical eye over his magnum opus and tell him exactly how good it is, what works (if anything) and what doesn’t. If it’s really no good, they won’t pull any punches. It might cost a couple of hundred quid, depending on the word count, but the advice is valuable and it’s a lot cheaper than an expensive creative writing course.’

@DelInquent: ‘I self-published my autobiography last year. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire project and felt very proud when it finally appeared on Amazon. My wife and I had an agreement that she would not critique the book. I have sold 50 copies, each sale makes my day. A few friends and old colleagues have said they love the book but plenty haven`t said a word. The husband needs to be told by people other than his wife how good the book is. Get it published and let the reviewers decide.’ 

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