Put a ring on it the way you want to

We are finally nearing the end of the logistical hell that is wedding planning.

We are finally nearing the end of the logistical hell that is wedding planning.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been looking forward to marrying Kathryn, my fiancée, long before I proposed to her last year.

I was dreading wedding planning, but as it turned out, everything from tasting cakes to choosing wedding party outfits and organizing our ceremony has been a blast.

But it’s only been fun because she’s carried us the entire way.

Seriously, I know nothing, zip, nada about wedding planning. If I was put in charge, well… I would have been lucky if we had a ceremony at all, let alone a bride willing to walk down that aisle, if you get my drift.

She’s been planning her dream wedding long before we got together. Heck, her mother has been excited for planning her daughter’s wedding long before Kathryn was even born. I’ve been told it’s a “Southern woman” thing.

So when it came to navigating the overgrown commercial jungle that is wedding planning, it was extremely fortunate that Kathryn was already an expert with her metaphorical explorer gear while I was still figuring out how to read the freakin’ map. (Think Nellie Bly – who traveled the world in 72 days – to every inept male, fictional or otherwise, who has ever exclaimed, “Don’t worry, it’s a shortcut.”)

I’m not only ignorant about wedding planning, but Western marriage traditions as well. I’m pretty certain the woman traditionally takes the man’s last name, but things get fuzzy around the ceremony, like maybe the Bible is read during the ceremony? And isn’t there something like a garter toss?

Come to think of it, though, my lack of wedding knowledge has probably left me much more willing to defy tradition in favor of something more to our tastes.

For example, we’re hyphenating our last names.

Chances are good we’re going to go with Miller-Still, and even though I occasionally think Still-Miller sounds better, I’ve learned from experience that her sense of style and language is far superior to mine.

The reason we’re hyphenating is simple: we both care about keeping our last names, which we identify strongly with as individuals, but as a married couple, we want to express our unity. So hyphenating it is.

Apparently, this is not common practice, which I only just found out during this planning process.

I didn’t find stats about how many couples hyphenate both their names (I’ve only ever known two who have), but I’ve read 75 to 80 (even up to 90) percent of women overall change their last names when they get married.

Something else I do against the grain is wear an engagement ring.

It’s not a fancy ring by any measure. Kathryn suggested buying one for me, but I didn’t want her dropping a few hundred bucks on a ring when I would just replace it for a wedding band.

But when I was rummaging through my little brother’s room when he left for college, I found a ring that fit my finger perfectly, and it hasn’t come off since.

The choice of wearing a ring felt natural to me, but again, that doesn’t seem to be the case for most men – only 5 percent of us wear engagement rings, according to The Atlantic.

But, just like changing my last name, wearing an engagement ring is about unity. I’m proud to show that I’m engaged to Kathryn, and I feel like we’re on equal standing.

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with a wife taking her husband’s name, or when men don’t wear an engagement ring. If that’s what you want, that’s perfect.

But if it’s not what you want, strike up a conversation.

It’s OK for the woman to propose, or to read from the Quran at your Western-styled ceremony.

It’s fine if the groom wants his parents to give him away, or if the bride chooses to forego this.

Men, you don’t have to wear a tux (heck, I’m putting together my own morning suit, since we both have such a crush on Mr. Darcy) and women, you don’t need to go through the garter toss.

It’s your wedding, and no one else’s.

So if any of these ideas strike your fancy, check out offbeatbride.com. They’ve got some great ideas on how to make your wedding one-of-a-kind, plus helpful advice on how to manage difficult situations that may crop up with family and friends.

But if you want my advice, if someone complains, the solution is simple – take a big, fat permanent marker and strike them off your guest list.

You don’t have to make anyone happy but you.

Well, and your partner.

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