News & Politics

Make Room for Groomzilla

Sometimes it’s the men fussing over the flowers and linens.

Wedding planner Anne Book thought she had seen everything with brides. Then one of her grooms stormed into his reception from the church, his bride’s bouquet in hand, and said, “Anne, this is not the bouquet we picked out!”

Book was witness to a growing phenomenon that some planners refer to as “groomzillas.”

“It absolutely exists,” says Book, who worked with Engaging Affairs in Alexandria. “This groom even had an entire binder just on cakes.”

Brides aren’t the only ones hounding pastry chefs to whip up the right shade of cerise frosting. Some grooms take the reins when it comes to the Super Bowl of their romantic life.

“The guy usually sits back and goes golfing and just shows up on the big day,” says David Troust, 36, who divided the planning of his fall wedding with his fiancée, Kathleen Faris. “But I really wanted to handle the reception.”

While Kathleen oversaw “the girly stuff like flowers and dresses,” Troust, who is associate general manager at Mie n Yu in Georgetown, took on the rest. He created Excel spreadsheets, went to tastings, chose the table linens.

“You never know how long or involved something like choosing the menu for a Sunday wedding reception is going to be until you do it,” says Troust.

Troust envisioned a simple cocktail-party-style reception that would offer light fare. But when the caterer came to him with a long list of choices, Troust found himself with a tough decision: vegetarian sushi or beef tartare?

“Then throw in linen options, floor plans, bar glasses, china,” he says. “It was nearly impossible to make a decision.”

For Troust, being an involved groom meant being vocal, especially as he and his fiancée were paying for most of their wedding. “When you mention ‘wedding’ to a vendor, they tend to raise their prices and start off showing you the most expensive items,” says Troust, who says most of the couple’s fights stemmed from the budget.

According to the American Weddings study conducted by the Fairchild Bridal Group, nearly one-third of brides and grooms paid for their wedding in 2005. “When the bride’s parents are paying, it’s the bride and mother of the bride in charge, but if the bride and groom are paying, then the groom is much more verbal,” says DC planner Jodi Moraru.

Money isn’t the only thing getting grooms into the wedding game. There’s also male rivalry. “I’ve seen a lot of grooms get really competitive with their friends,” says Book. “They want something no one has ever seen.”

One groom Book worked with was set on having the largest chocolate fountain he could buy so other couples couldn’t top it. Another groom told her she had really raised the bar for the rest of his buddies getting married.

Groom Andrew Stephens, a math tutor who lives in DC’s Chinatown, didn’t grow up dreaming about table settings or floral arrangements, but he found himself doing most of the talking in meetings with wedding vendors.

“Andrew has a natural presence,” says wife Maureen McNulty-Stephens. “I would rather sit back and listen.”

At the couple’s first flower meeting, Stephens, 36, arrived late to find an elaborate floral plan on the table. “I was like, ‘This isn’t going to work,’ ” says Stephens, who favored a more Zenlike atmosphere. “When the second vendor came in, he realized pretty quickly that he was selling to me.”

McNulty-Stephens liked that her man took charge. “I think the men can start pitching in,” she says.

Laura Thomas (, a former Washingtonian intern, lives in Manhattan and works for eBay.