When modern men
prepare to wed, many wax, tan and help plan. Here come the
Copyright © 2005 Time Inc. All rights
By Jeremy Caplan, with reporting by Leron Kornreich
and Christopher Maag
By the time Pasquale Pignatelli
visited luxury clothier Hickey Freeman for the final fitting
of an $1,800 custom-made worsted-wool suit, he had devoted
as much time perfecting his wedding outfit as his fiancé
had spent selecting her bridal gown. Pignatelli, 29, a cargo
salesman, also carefully chose his groomsmen's and ushers'
outfits and bought white-gold bracelets to accessorize them.
He arranged for them to get eyebrow waxings and manicures
on the day before his Sept. 18 wedding. "It's not about
what's superficial," says Pignatelli of his fastidiousness.
"It's about making this artistic."
The "bridezillas" who pay assiduous
attention to nuptial details haven't disappeared. But increasingly
they're joined at the altar by "groomzillas," who
care just as much about the particulars of the big day. Whereas
a decade ago many men limited their input to the choice of
DJ for the reception, growing numbers are now getting involved
with everything from seating plans and table decorations to
wedding-cake design and keepsakes for guests. Brian Lawrence,
35, of Livingston, N.J., says he's handling much of the planning
for his Oct. 23 wedding. Having picked the site himself, he
chose chocolate-dipped biscotti over infused olive oil for
the favors. Lawrence wants to share the event, not just attend
it. "It's my wedding just as much as it's hers,"
The fact that couples are marrying later means
that more brides are in established careers that leave less
time for wedding planning. Not only are many women too busy
to manage all the details themselves, but as cultural expectations
about gender roles have shifted, ubiquitous TV images of chivalrous
would-be grooms--on shows like The Bachelor, A Wedding Story
and Perfect Proposal--have helped redefine the groom's tasks.
According to NPD Research, a New York--based marketing firm,
80% of men are now active co-partners in the wedding-planning
process. "I've had grooms call me five or six times a
day about small details months before their weddings,"
says Los Angeles wedding planner Julie Pryor. "I'm finding
that grooms are hiring me more often too."
As men get more involved with their weddings,
businesses are wooing them and in the process reinventing
some male rituals. Engagement consultants are helping design
elaborate proposals. Travel agencies and resorts are offering
multiday bachelor-party blowouts. And spas are creating groom
packages that include nail treatments, hairstyling and even
Simply getting down on bended knee to pop the
question is almost passÃ©. A Georgia would-be
groom had himself delivered in a box to the seventh-grade
class where his girlfriend was teaching, and as she opened
the box, he popped up to hand her a ring. Another in New York
City recently hired an event-planning agency to produce a
faux off-Broadway play complete with 100 planted audience
members. At the climactic moment in the drama, he took off
his costume disguise, brought his intended onstage and asked
her to marry him. The fee: $15,000. "Grooms know the
proposal is going to be talked about and sighed over for the
next 40 years," says Marilyn Oliveira, senior editor
at Wedding Channel.com.
Although bachelor parties are still popular
and increasingly elaborate--Pignatelli and 14 of his friends
spent $30,000 on a four-day celebration at Las Vegas' Mandalay
Bay--more grooms are opting to spend prenuptial time at spas
with their buddies. Exclusively Male in Cincinnati, Ohio,
offers a groom-groomsmen special, including hairstyling, manicure
and pedicure, for $90 a person. "If you're wearing a
tux and have nice shoes on ... bad hands stand out,"
says owner Marie Stokes. "More men are looking at other
men's hands." Particularly image-conscious grooms are
even hiring makeup artists to spruce them up for the wedding-day
Some brides applaud the metrosexualization
of the matrimonial experience. "Pasquale has an amazing
eye, and I'm thrilled that he's so involved," says Nancy
Manzolillo, Pignatelli's new wife. But many marriage experts
fret that the rise of the groomzilla will add to the commercialization
of weddings. Others recoil at the impersonal nature of services
like engagement consultants. "This is something you throw
love at, not money," says Trish McDermott, chief matchmaker
at Engage.com "Hiring a pro to arrange those beach rocks
to spell out her name? That's a romance killer."