Remember Bull Durham? Kevin Costner tells a wet-behind-the-ears Tim Robbins: “You’re gonna have to learn your clichés. You’re gonna have to study them, you’re gonna have to know them. They’re your friends. Write this down: ‘We gotta play it one day at a time…I just want to give it my best shot, and the good lord willing, things will work out…”
Just like Nuke, you need to learn your clichés. As soon as people hear that you’re getting married, they will pepper you with questions, some reasonable, some intrusive. These boring, trite, melba-toast retorts will help you deflect an impertinent question or wiggle out of any jam, no matter how uncomfortable. Learn them. Memorize them. Use them. They’re your friends.
They say: “Are you having a big or small wedding?”
You say: “It’s been a whirlwind but now we’re taking things slow. We haven’t nailed down any details yet.”
This is the worst part of the first two weeks of your engagement. Everyone—even your good friends—will ambush you with questions. When?! Where!?! How big? You want to soak in the happiness; they want to soak in the circus. “Taking things slow” is your all-purpose response.
They say: “When’s the wedding? I need to check my calendar.”
You say: “We’re taking some time to ourselves before we even start thinking about the wedding planning.”
This cliché is similar to the “taking things slow” platitude, but it’s a little more forceful. Use it when you want to say “Get the F#*k off my back.” When said pleasantly and with a smile, this effectively ends the conversation.
They say: “How much did your ring cost?”
You say: “Lots.” Or, “More than I’ve ever spent on something the size of a cracker-jack prize.” Or, alternatively, “More than ten dollars, less than a million.”
The cost of your engagement ring is nobody’s business. When a guy asks you this, it’s about as polite as you asking him, “So. What was your salary last year?” Or: “How long do you last in bed? Any issues down there, any problems with your equipment?”
They say: “You should use my buddy as a photographer. He’s good. He’s damn good.”
You say: “Thanks. We’ve already been looking at some vendors, but email me the info. You never know…”
This one’s dangerous. If you’re either: 1) a naturally polite guy; 2) a pushover; or 3) piss-drunk and agreeable, it’s possible for you to reflexively say, “AWESOME. Your buddy. Hells yeah. Let’s do it!” You’ll run into problems down the road. It’s possible that he’s a hack; it’s probable that you’ll find a better deal elsewhere; it’s guaranteed that your fiancée will be (justifiably) livid that you locked in a vendor without her input.
They say: “You should TOTALLY get married in Barbados!!!! My sister just got married there—do it, do it, do it!!!”
You say: “We’ll do what we please. Tell your sister to rot in hell.”
Or not. Obviously, the “taking things slow…haven’t nailed down any details yet” cliché will work in this circumstance, too. But you should be aware that everyone’s an expert, and everyone (especially women) will have advice that you simply must follow. Concede nothing. Commit to nothing.
Your fiancée says: “I know this wasn’t in the budget, but let’s spend an extra $1,200 on some orchids for the parking lot.”
You say: “That’s a great idea. I really love the idea of sprinkling flowers all over the cement parking lot, but I think that before we change the budget, we should talk about what other financial sacrifices this would entail.”
Don’t lose your shit. No matter how outlandish the suggestion, first point out the merit in her idea, and only then mention the downside. This way you give the impression that you’re considering her position, you’re reasonable, you’re willing to compromise. Think this suggestion is a stretch? Click here for an article from The Knot on dressing up portable toilets.
Your fiancée says: “Are you even listening? I asked you which color you liked better?”
You say: “I know you put a lot of work in this decision, and I trust your judgment.”
Careful. Don’t go to this well too often. “I trust your judgment” is a nice line to have up your sleeve, but if you overuse it, then she’ll (correctly) guess that you’re checked out. It’s best to express a modicum of interest. In other words…fake it. Turnabout’s fair play.
Onto the hard stuff: determining the length of your engagement.