Tales From the Groom: The Wedding Lobby

Carl finds out that to get what he wants, he actually needs others to suggest it.

With fewer than 100 days to go, all major responsibilities that have been given to me—such as picking the band’s set list—have been revoked in subtle ways. For example, “I e-mailed the talent agent last week to let her know we weren’t serious about the set list you sent her.” It has left me with a crisis of confidence.

I have no “hand,” as George Costanza might say.

But through this, I learned a lesson that should be followed by all grooms-to-be who care about or want any ownership of their wedding.

In the 1960s, psychologist Stanley Milgram asked a volunteer to stand still on a busy New York City street corner and stare straight up at the sky. Curious about what the man was looking at, about one in every 25 passersby stopped to look up as well. When Milgram decided to pay five people to stand on the sidewalk and look straight up at the sky, a fifth of all passersby stopped to look up. Finally, when Milgram and his colleagues assembled a group of 18 volunteers to look up simultaneously at nothing in particular, almost half the people who walked by looked up to see what was going on.

They brought traffic in Manhattan to a halt.

What I learned from Milgram’s experiment is that regardless of reality, you need to make it seem to the bride that many people are on the same page as you when it comes to specific details close to your heart. Of course, you can’t just assume people will agree with you, but you need to pay a few people to stand on the corner with you and stare at the sky.

Case in point: Kristin and I were at a bar one night meeting up with a bunch of our friends. Prior to getting together, I had called a number of our pals to prep them with specific talking points for a few items we had been debating about our reception—in addition to offering to buy them a few rounds of cocktails. The plan was that these friends would engage Kristin in conversation about specific reception items and offer my ideas as their own. Then other friends would join in, agreeing with how fantastic those ideas were.

“Social proof” at its finest.

Friend 1: “Kristin, it’d be so cool if you guys had ‘Soul Finger’ by the Bar-Kays playing as the wedding party entered the reception. You know how much Carl loves Spies Like Us.”

Friend 2: “You know what? That’s really funny because I’ve been at a few weddings recently where I said to myself, man, I could really go for some ‘Soul Finger.’ It’s like I have a fever for ‘Soul Finger.’ ”

Friend 3: “Are you guys talking about ‘Soul Finger’ by the Bar-Kays? I love that song. I was just at a wedding where that was played and the crowd went bonkers. The father of the bride had the mother of the groom on his shoulders dancing around the reception. It was cool, and there were no permanent injuries.”

Bartender: “You know, some modern interpretations of Mayan folklore state that a song like ‘Soul Finger’ could bring incredible fortune upon a new couple—it speaks to the bond you’ve created together and the strength of the family you’ll raise. Again, it’s a very recent interpretation. I saw it in Modern Bride.”

So fellas, if you sit back and identify a few things that you really want at your wedding, you’ll need to engage in some moderate psychological warfare. If you do and you have nothing but good intentions, then the sky’s the limit.

Read Carl's story from the beginning

Subscribe to Washingtonian
Follow Washingtonian on Twitter

More>> Bridal Party Blog | Wedding Guide | Wedding Vendor Search