Code / November 2015

Wedding Tails: The Proposal

Who says men can’t plan weddings? Well, most people, but that isn’t going to stop Tom Chamberlin. The Rake’s Deputy Editor is getting married, and in the first of a series of blogs…

Having been called upon to pen a male view of planning a wedding, it was interesting to discover the lack (more like barren wasteland) of options available to men on the subject.

Weddings are a multi-billion-pound industry (worth approximately £10bn a year in the U.K. and $45bn a year in the United States), yet the blogosphere and help books are predominantly geared towards the female of the species. Even Debrett's, the bible of etiquette and good manners, keep their wedding book very much angled at women. So what we propose here is a beta-male antidote to this huge moment in life. This diary will discuss particular components of the big day that you may not consider your domain, but remember: if you see potential in any, you can make them your domain.

Of course, we will devour the sartorial side of things, and as a preview, consider this: the variety of clothing that can be employed by a man for his wedding is not confined to morning suits. The rake is an international man, and there are many options to suit seasons and climates. But we will also talk flowers, placement, food, and the extra fine touches.

How to kick off this diary? As an aperitif to amuse your bouche (or yeux, in this case), it is worth mentioning the overture to matrimonial symphony: the proposal. The road to a good marriage starts with a good engagement, which begins with a good proposal. Once you have accepted your fate and it is time to make an honest woman out of the person who brings you the most joy in the world, think about the format of your proposal.

There will be no flash mobs or mid-air proposal suggestions here, so the flashy among you are forewarned. The ring: it's not right to recommend buying the biggest one you can - some people advise spending three months' salary - but get what you feel your fiancée will want to wear. You may be fortunate enough to have a family ring - in which case, well done you. It doesn't need to fit perfectly on proposal, so if you really want to surprise your soon-to-be affianced partner, choose a larger size because she will want to put it on.

Don't try to guess the perfect size - these things are resizable. And she will want to Whatsapp photographs to her girlfriends, so the ring will need to be big enough to slide over her knuckle. My other half had a nifty trick of wrapping a hair tie around the bottom so it fit before we nipped to Wartski on Grafton Street in London to see the wonderful Geoffrey Munn for resizing.

And remember: the ring represents a promise of marriage, and it is not to be treated in any way less important or romantic than that. Then, of course, you need to do the asking.

Proposing might be a horrible task for those of you with a nervous disposition, though I wager that the hardiest and most masculine of men will feel nervous, too. This story will be told again and again (and again), so make it a story to tell. But here is a very important point: going over the top, doing something that could find its way on to YouTube, is passé and tacky. Keep it simple, keep it personal: you do not need the world to see you declare your love on one knee, and you do not need to spend vast amounts of money to make it perfect. Proposing in this way is delightful, and when she says 'yes' - well, I guarantee that any surplus effort you try to go to will come to feel unnecessary and lacking in dignity.

I would recommend doing it at home, or somewhere you can both revisit and is special to you, a place where you are comfortable and you have the space to ready yourself to speak those four words. Enjoy it, because the build-up is horrible. It will be one of the most memorable moments of your life, so make it special, but for God's sake don't make it public.

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Tom Chamberlin

Editor of The Rake Magazine