Todd Remis was less than pleased with his wedding photographers, who missed the last dance and bouquet toss at his ceremony. Now the Manhattan groom wants them to pay: He’s suing for $4,100, the cost of photography, as well as $48,000 to restage the entire wedding so it can be shot by someone else.
Problematically, the big day went down in 2003, and in the years since, the couple divorced, with the bride shipping back to her native Latvia.
While the case is extreme, Mr. Remis has captured the public imagination as a “groomzilla,” the guy who out-fusses his bride on “his” big day, drawing the ire of his wedding party and possibly his bride.
Groomzillas are as wearisome as their female counterparts, but a new breed of groom-centric bloggers and wedding planners is hoping to redefine the zilla moniker and shift attitudes around male involvement in the pinkest of industries in the process. They resent that men who express even the slightest interest in planning their weddings are being perceived as divas, especially since grooms, not parents, are increasingly funding the lavish nuptials.
“Any guy that cares about his wedding is now labelled a groomzilla. I don’t think that’s fair,” said Dave Soldinger, an L.A. producer who blogged every step of his lengthy nuptial journey – 17 months’ worth – at Temple of Groom.
Punning on the iconic Indiana Jones flick Temple of Doom, the blog features heroes every boy remembers, with a twist: “By the power of Grayskull, I’m not a Groomzilla, I just care about my wedding,” proclaims He-Man. “I pity the fool who doesn’t care about his own wedding,” Mr. T chimes in.
Mr. Soldinger, 29, contemplated every part of the process, from biggies such as the venue, photographer and bridal registry, to nuances including Gocco-printed invites, sky lanterns and the garter toss. (He deemed it “hokey.”) Things heated up when his fiancée Rebecca picked as her colours yellow and white, hues that brought to mind the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mr. Soldinger’s most hated football team. “I couldn’t allow that to happen,” said the Baltimore Ravens fan, who coyly drew up a colour board that added purple into the scheme. Problem solved.
While he believes the wedding industry is “allowing men to infiltrate,” Mr. Soldinger used his inaugural post to voice his own reservations about being so enmeshed: “Sometimes I wish I could be the guy that just shows up, says ‘I do,’ drinks some alcohol and unwraps wedding presents my wife registered for. God knows it’d be much easier for me. But I’m not that guy,” he wrote.
Mr. Soldinger said that “brides love” a man who’s engrossed in the process, within reason – the dress is off limits.
There’s a big difference between obstinate groomzillas and grooms who care about the details: “Brides love the latter,” said Brian Leahy, who blogs at The Groom Says.
Mr. Leahy said he was “heavily involved” in his wedding last October, mostly to take the burden off of his wife. “I wanted to arrive at my wedding and know what it was going to look like, know where I needed to be when, and know that I had contributed to the final result.” Many bridal posts and a first wedding anniversary behind him, Mr. Leahy ruminated that in some respects, “We’re leaving the pink-toned, cutesy, bride-centric weddings behind. We’re making weddings more collaborative.”
Man-friendly wedding blogs like his and Mr. Soldinger’s are proliferating, as are advice sites such as The Groom's List, The Plunge, Staggered and Ben The Groom, which offer helpful tips on surviving the dinner rehearsal, a fallen groomsman or cold feet. They also introduce men to the pleasures of groomsville – think tuxedo fittings, pampering spa services and booking the getaway car, “from Beemers to vintage cars and white limos to gas-guzzling stretch SUVs,” extols Groom Groove, one such resource site.
Michael Arnot launched Groom Groove from New York after getting stumped as he tried to write his own wedding speech in 2004. A “typical guy” who was only “cursorily involved” in the nuptials held in Ottawa, Mr. Arnot admitted it could have gone the other way in a heartbeat: “If my bride-to-be had suggested forest green for the bridesmaid dresses, I wouldn’t have it.”
Mr. Arnot said he doesn't think that makes him a groomzilla. As couples marry later and the expense shifts to them and off of parents, a groom is “going to want to have a say in how it looks.”
“Modern grooms don’t delegate and disappear,” Mr. Arnot said.
In Toronto, The Groom Show launched last year: Free of tulle, it features guy-friendly vendors, booze tastings as well as “man-to-man” seminars held in a “man cave.” Meanwhile, groom-centric registries are letting guys in on the swag action that is matrimony. With nary a blender or bath towel set in sight, websites like The Man Registry go heavy on the guy factor with electronics, camping equipment, grilling gear and games-room accoutrements, as well as novel groomsmen gifts – remote-control beer cooler, anyone?
Even generic registry sites are seeing an upsurge in groom-centric wish lists, said Nancy Lee, president of MyRegistry.com.
“The groom has started to have a much larger voice in the registering process. We're calling them groomzilla registries but they're very male-inclusive registries.”
These are easy to spot: Just look for power drills, snow blowers, Xbox games and the occasional Darth Vadar toaster.
The mannish offerings make it clear there are currently two camps of involved grooms: “There's the duding it up kind of thing and then there are guys who are just fey and lovely. They want to get very detailed over the flowers,” said Toronto wedding planner Karina Lemke, recalling one chap who fretted about the variegated leaves in his arrangements.
She said that vendors are more likely to judge difficult fiancés: “With a woman we just write it off, but with a guy you're more likely to say, what are you thinking buddy?”
While grooms like Mr. Soldinger mull over delicate centrepieces unabashedly – the couple chose glass vases and vintage picture frames spray painted yellow over mason jar candle holders – others like Chris Easter take the “dude” approach. Married in 2008, Mr. Easter, who co-founded TheManRegistry.com, had a beloved barbecue joint cater the reception, held at his favourite brewery in Kansas City.
“My participation and attitude was greatly appreciated by her and her parents,” said Mr. Easter, noting he finds the term groomzilla “cutesy” and “demeaning.”
While the industry is becoming more gender neutral, he said change is slow: “A guy that’s actively taking part in planning is still seen as ‘odd’ in some circles.”
The Manhattan groomzilla suing over eight-year-old wedding photos aside, “Just because a guy wants to have a say in planning matters, doesn’t make him crazy,” said Mr. Easter.
“I think it makes him a better man.”