My usual literary fare doesn’t trend this close to self-improvement; The Engaged Groom is a rare bit of advice column material for me, given to me by my fiancée shortly after I proposed to her. Since she had availed herself liberally of both books and magazine alike, she decided that I too should have some sort of reference when it came to planning our wedding. Since there is no wedding periodical, to my knowledge, that caters to grooms (however disinterested or engaged they may be), the clear choice was a book whose subtitle is both succinct and informative: “You’re getting married. Read this book.”
I suppose it’s important for me to preface this entire process by noting that Allison’s and my relationship is not necessarily of the garden variety wherein the bride and her mother plan the entire blessed event1 and the groom attempts to not show up the ceremony with a hangover. No, I am very much involved in the proceedings, though truth be told, I am no more wedded2 to the idea of a traditional ceremony+reception than I am to a simple elopement. My stake in this entire project is less about the procedure and more about getting the girl of my dreams, but in this respect the relationship is traditional/typical: Allison wants a White Wedding, and so a White Wedding we shall have.
In other words, Allison and I are doing this together, and she figured—rightly—that I should have some clue as to what I’m doing. The Engaged Groom is author Doug Gordon’s attempt to provide simple but helpful advice to grooms who, by design or by coercion, are an integral part of the planning process.
Gordon is the proprietor of PlanetGordon.com; I know this because the book’s requisite author blurb told me this before anything else. I therefore expected a rather elaborate website of moderate-to-heavy traffic; I was surprised to find a rather minimalistic MovableType-powered blog, which, thought active since 2003, consists most of Gordon’s asides, and very few comments. The author’s other plaudits include being a writer for Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?, though it fails—consciously, I’m sure—to mention in what respect. My conclusion, then, is that Gordon, though billed as though a wedding expert or minor celebrity, is just another poor schlub trying to make it in New York City. I can’t explain exactly why, but there’s something incongruous about the entire deal which makes me uncomfortable, but again, it’s not a feeling that I particular understand.
But that’s enough about the author; whether it’s written by the Risen Christ or a schizophrenic hobo, the real value in the book lies in its content, especially when you’re a dizzied groom guarding his wallet and shooting dirty looks at DJs and florists.
I’m pleased to report that The Engaged Groom is a rather nice compendium of advice for husbands in potentia. Simply put, it’s a (mostly-)chronological walkthrough of the event from immediately after the engagement to the immediately after, well… consummation. Though Gordon has only been married once, and that recently3, he seems to have a pretty good handle on the whole concept, which I attribute both to his urbanity and what appears to be a metrosexual sort of interest in the wedding process.
The Engaged Groom is less of a strict timeline than some wedding-planning workbooks you can by, but it general attempts a temporal and categorical grouping of subjects; while it wanders a bit, occasionally, I find it’s generally true to its purpose and often generally helpful. The difficult for wedding book authors is to present information that doesn’t bore those readers to whom it doesn’t apply: I care not a whit, for instance, about advice on destination weddings. But luckily Gordon doesn’t dwell too long on any particular section.
Having only been engaged once, and this having been my first guide in the matter, I have very little to compare The Engaged Groom to. My largely-contextless opinion is generally favorable, however, in that I finished the book better informed than I began it, which I suppose says all there is to say about a book with such a clear aim.