Here Comes The Dude? Wedding Planning Gets Manly

Chris Easter of TheManRegistry.com has built a thriving business on the assumption that bros have matrimonial feelings, too.

The season of ceaseless weddings is upon us, so Fast Company called up Chris Easter, cofounder of TheManRegistry.com, to find out if today's men take an equal interest in planning their weddings. Easter argues that they can and do—and the rapidly growing revenues of his site are an indication that he’s right. Just don’t expect a special "50 Hottest Bridesmaids" feature on his website anytime soon.

FAST COMPANY: What’s TheManRegistry.com?

CHRIS EASTER: TheManRegistry.com is an e-commerce site and informational resource for soon-to-be-engaged or currently engaged men. The idea was originally, let’s create a men’s gift registry. Registries typically focus on the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom, but there’s nothing aimed at men: grills, camping equipment, man cave stuff. The idea evolved into an overall comprehensive e-resource.

There’s a stereotype that men are less into wedding planning than women.

There’s some truth to it traditionally. But couples are getting married at older ages, closer to thirty than in their early 20s, and so couples are spending more of their own money and less of mom and dad’s money on weddings. If I’m spending my money, I’m going to be more involved, more hands-on with vendors. Our company proves that men do care intimately about planning their weddings and just needed an outlet. A lot of what guys are getting involved in was unheard of 30 years ago.

For example?

A close friend of mine wrote some custom music for the procession. He put his own twist on it.

Did he do it with an electric guitar and smash it at the end?

I pushed for that. It would have made the YouTube hall of fame. No, he kept it classical, but with a bit of a twist. There was a violin.

Until recently Conde Nast alone had multiple bridal magazines. How did they not figure out there would also be a market for grooms?

That was our question. The issue for us is the for-men-by-men approach. There was a website back in the 90s that tried to target the groom, but it got acquired by Brides.com, which took too much of a female approach. TheManRegistry is by men. It’s like reading Men’s Health or Maxim.

A Maxim for married men? That’s not a contradiction in terms?

I give Maxim as an example of a male-centric magazine.

You don’t have a "50 Hottest Bridesmaids" issue planned?

We haven’t gone there yet. We push the envelope occasionally. We’ve had content on wedding sex, what to do if you’re a virgin, sex on your honeymoon. But we take the process very seriously. The wedding day is the biggest day of both of your lives, equally for the groom and bride.

What’s your business model?

The revenue is split between e-commerce sales—we have over 4,000 products on the site—and we’re also ad-supported. The wedding industry is a $40 billion industry, so there’s quite a bit of space to carve out a niche for grooms.

Does anyone take you to task for labeling certain products as being for men? Some women grill, and some men bake.

The Man Registry is about being a man by stepping up and being involved in the planning of your wedding. Being a man can mean a lot of things. Being a man is not about being out with your shirt off drinking beers. It’s about: This is the biggest day of your life, and if you’re not involved, that’s a problem.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

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[Image: Flickr user ashley.adcox]

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1 Comments

  • Eric Rice

    When we were planning our wedding, it was tough for me in part because the whole wedding industry is built around the traditional notion of the princess on her wedding day. But where my desires got steamrolled wasn't the expectations and framework of The Knot, it was the expectations placed on the wedding by my wife, her mother, and her extended family (for instance, turns out the mountain wedding I was interested in couldn't support the ~400 person potential guest list they thought they needed!). 

    The simple presence of a site for men isn't going to undo the generations of marketing and building expectations for brides that have made the groom a mere accessory (albeit a necessary one). What would have been great for me at the time would be articles, advice, and resources to help me carve out some ownership and navigate the morass of social convention I was locked into - even if I couldn't influence the whole wedding, I could find some part of it to make mine. (For the record, I had a great time planning and having our wedding, even if it couldn't take the overall form I hoped for.)

    I still think, though, that we need to drop the "most important day of your life" crap. That places WAY too high a bar for people and, frankly, it's just another day in your relationship. I'd rank the start of new relationships way more important - the day my daughter was born is way more influential and life-changing than the day I got married (the week before and the week after my wedding were pretty much the same except for some paperwork, jewelry, and the size of my bank account).