​How the Other Half Lives: A Groom’s Perspective

June 20, 2017 by Corey McLaughlin

A few lingering Facebook likes of our engagement announcement were still rolling in when my fiancée (and, let be clear to start this series: the love of my life), Jamie, sat in the passenger seat of my Jeep Cherokee . . . and started to ask about possible venues.

Deep breath, Corey, deep breath.

The truth is, at this moment, piloting us down the New Jersey Turnpike as we returned to Baltimore from my native Long Island, where I’d proposed, I hadn’t thought about wedding planning. At all.

All I wanted was to get us back home in four hours, eat a turkey sandwich, sip a cold beer, and bask in the glory that, a day earlier, I was able to get my future bride and her ring to my intended proposal location. And surprise her.

We made it to the beach, despite her telling me earlier on that overcast fall Sunday morning that she’d rather “have a hole in the head,” than go there. (I was at least comforted that I knew she’d say yes; this was in the making for a while.)

Five years of dating was enough time, but had I known the planning would start almost immediately after the proposal, maybe I would have waited a little longer.

A big-picture discussion about venues that I could handle — Can we make a Top 5 list? Indoor or outdoor? — quickly led to many other questions and details that I thought could wait, for at least a week. What season? What attire? How many people would we invite? What about music?

Were we really crafting the entire wedding-day picture before we reached Delaware? I was already overwhelmed.

“Wait a second, I thought we were going to take this slow,” I said. But who was I kidding?

Grooms, this is where it’s important to know your role. Sure, you’re technically one half of the deal. But if I’ve learned anything in the nine months since we were engaged, it’s that our wedding in October is not about me — or my opinions. And I’m OK with that.

Most of the questions don’t really need your answer anyway, unless you have a great reason. You might be better off just agreeing, or supporting, because chances are your other half has considered your wedding day a lot more than you have.

Jamie and I have been together for five years, and our story starts as random roommates in a renovated corner bar in Canton.

I was 25, living with two friends from college, and working as a writer and editor. After a year, one of my roommates moved out and the other posted a Craigslist ad for a new third.

I first met Jamie, and her dad, as they visited the place in the summer of 2012.

“Look, there’s a handicap ramp,” she noted about one of the quirky features of the house, and mentioned her mother was in a wheelchair. My introverted self was impressed by Jamie’s openness, and her personality.

Jamie seemed to like the house. I didn’t know if she’d be back, much less that I’d one day marry this person. But I did tell my roommate, Megan, that I was fine if she wanted to move in.

And so it began.

She asked me to set up her cable. I took it to mean she was into me. She swears she wasn’t at the time, but I thought she was cute, and we very quickly hit it off.

A few weeks in, we went to an Orioles-Pirates game. On our way out, I burned the inside of my left foot on steam from a piping hot vent on Pratt Street. Jamie basically nursed it when we got back home. She’s pretty nice.

Very early on we talked about religion. I’m a Catholic from Long Island and she’s a Jewish girl from Baltimore. It’s a conversation many people don’t have years into a relationship, or perhaps until it’s too late. But, here we were, a month after meeting and we were chatting about our future. Jamie made it clear it was important for her to have a Jewish wedding and raise a Jewish family. Though we had different backgrounds, we learned we shared the same values.

Yes, we did the sensible thing and lived apart for a year to make sure this was “the real thing.” But we knew better. We spent almost every day that year together, still in the same neighborhood, and moved back into a new place when our leases ended, this time just the two of us.

A few years later, this past September, it went like this: The sun broke through the clouds at Robert Moses Field 5 on the South Shore of Long Island, near where I grew up. Jamie asked me take pictures of her standing on the beach (classic).

I wasn’t exactly sure how the proposal would unfold but thankfully the set up took care of itself. With her back turned, I pulled the ring from my bathing suit pocket.

“One last thing before you sit down,” I said, then dropped to one knee, cracked open the black ring box, and mumbled with tears welling in my eyes, “Will you marry me?” Shocked, and not wanting to get sand on her beautiful ring, she slammed the box shut (really). Then said yes.

Then the phone calls, more pictures — and soon the planning — began.

We talked where and when and agreed: Baltimore, this fall. Then we started to talk about more than I was ready for. Here’s one quick tip: When she asks about music, don’t just say, “I want the music to be good.” That didn’t go over well. This is the paradox of wedding planning, at least from my perspective: It’s not about you, but you still need to be somewhat helpful, or better yet, agreeable. Turns out Jamie had already picked out a band.


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