One of the reasons we started The Plunge is this idea that guys have absolutely no preparation for wedding planning. According to the stereotype, girls spend their childhoods fantasizing about the perfect wedding, while boys spend their childhood fantasizing about being superheroes, or rock stars, or astronauts, etc. The upshot of this is that women have a distinct advantage over men when it comes to actually planning the Big Day.
Let’s not debate about whether this stereotype is still true (if indeed it ever was). Instead, let’s consider whether guys learn about wedding planning without even realizing it, as they go about the typical things that males like to do to pass the time.
Movies, for instance. Guys love to watch movies–often the same movies over and over, until they can act them out completely from memory. Unless your girl drags you to the latest rom-com, or makes you watch “Runaway Bride” on Netflix for the fourth time, these movies probably won’t even have anything to do with weddings. But the lessons are there…
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Just like all of the “Vacation” movies (with the exception of “Vegas Vacation,” because it’s better for humanity if we just pretend that doesn’t exist), this classic holiday comedy takes family as its theme. Family can be both the most frustrating thing in your life and the thing that pulls you out of the darkest moments of your life, sometimes in the span of the same moment.
None of the “Vacation” movies explore this theme better than “Christmas Vacation” because it involves pretty much the entire Griswold clan–from cranky Uncle Lewis to the wise Clark, Sr. Clark Jr.’s quest to achieve the perfect Christmas is doomed from the start for a simple reason: perfection is an unattainable goal. He somehow keeps his cool when Cousin Eddie dumps his trailer sewage in the storm drain, and when Aunt Bethany’s cat gets fried from chewing on the Christmas lights. But when money rears its ugly head–in the form of a cheap Christmas bonus–his sunny disposition gives way:
The lesson: Plans aren’t the same thing as rules. Things aren’t going to go your way, especially with a big event that features lots of family and high expectations. Learn to roll with the unexpected as it happens and vent your frustrations in healthy ways. And keep lots of Tylenol on hand.
Back To The Future
The greatest sci-fi comedy in movie history is also a great lesson in trust. Marty knows that Doc Brown can get him back to 1985, and his trust in his crazy-haired scientist friend never wavers, even as he is about to drive at top speed into the front of a movie theater:
The lesson: Trust is a key component of any relationship. So learn to rely on it when it comes to your wedding. Trust that your best man will remember to bring the rings to the ceremony. Trust that your fiancé will like the vows you’ve written because she knows you better than anyone else. Things will go your way if you let those you trust the most help you.
Sometimes, you need to take bold steps to achieve your dreams. You need an inner voice to encourage you to take command of your life and overcome your fears. You need your own personal Tyler Durden.
The unnamed “Narrator” of director David Fincher’s brilliant film starts off adrift and increasingly desperate, before finding purpose through his friendship with the charismatic Tyler Durden. True, that purpose becomes increasingly more nuts as the film progresses, and eventually involves theft, acts of vandalism, and a couple of vans full of nitroglycerin, but this is a guy who, from listening to his unconscious, becomes his truest self.
The lesson: You’ll need to listen to your gut–to that voice in your head–but only up to a point. When it tells you to start throwing punches or to piss in the lobster bisque, take a step back and fully consider the consequences. Also, remember, you can always rely on the love of a good woman (or a semi-crazy one, as the case may be.)
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie
This big screen spinoff of the cult TV comedy may not have as deep of a story as some movies. But at its core, it offers a deep lesson about dealing with an emotional quagmire.
In case you slept on this franchise, the idea is that a guy named Mike is held captive by an evil scientist and forced to watch an awful movie until he cracks. But he doesn’t crack, because, with the help of his two robot buddies, he uses humor and mockery to render the b-movie enjoyable. By the end of the screening, they are almost bathing in the badness of the movie they just watched, even throwing a themed party in its honor.
The lesson: Don’t forget that when you feel trapped in a stressful situation while planning your wedding, a sense of humor will keep you and your wife from cracking.
Whether you’re a young woman inspired by the film’s feminist message, a comic nerd finally seeing one of your favorite characters on the big screen, or just a hetero-dude who likes watching Gal Gadot in an armor bikini, Wonder Woman has something for you. But what does the story of a super-powered demi-goddess—who pretty much wipes the floor with every man she meets—have to do with your wedding?
Well, forget for a moment the film’s star and think about the supporting cast, especially Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor. Here’s a guy who is pretty capable in his own right, but who recognizes the superior abilities of his partner and lets her lead the charge. Not only that, he sacrifices himself in the end to help achieve their common goal.
The lesson: Don’t get hung up on macho gender roles. You and your fiancée have a mission, planning and executing the best wedding possible. If she’s more qualified to do the heavy lifting (remember that stereotype we mentioned at the beginning?), then get out of her way. Or, if the situation demands, take one for the team. Even if it means spending a couple of hours with a florist, trying to pick out centerpieces.