The wedding industry isn’t built for men. There aren’t men’s magazines devoted to the big day, and even couple-friendly websites like The Knot have a female-centric vibe, emphasizing dresses, rings, accessories, and Pinterest-worthy decor. Here to close the gap is the menswear startup The Black Tux, with a new book The Groom’s Guide.
Dedicated to “men on the verge of marriage,” the book is a sleek black volume, with quippy advice on everything from choosing a wedding song to what you should carry in your pockets on the day. The second half of the book is a style guide, helping grooms-to-be figure out what to wear, aimed at a generation of men who may have never worn a tuxedo. While this serves as a lightly veiled catalog for The Black Tux’s services, the book is surprisingly insightful and delightfully designed as a down-to-earth antidote to the frilly, Pinterest-centric model of contemporary wedding planning. More than that, it points to a growing emphasis on casual, egalitarian weddings where the groom is more deeply involved.
“It’s very easy to go on Pinterest or anywhere on the internet and see visual inspiration for all the crafty stuff around a wedding. Everything is saturated by that type of content,” says Keith Scharwath, the design director at The Black Tux. “We wanted this to have a lot of great information that’s relevant, but in a way, it’s a little agnostic visually.”
Scharwath and the other design director, Atley Kasky, looked to resource manuals and travel guides for design inspiration. “A wedding is like a crazy difficult vacation where you need to constantly grab your travel guide,” Scharwath says.
Instead of bows and twinkly lights and succulent-filled mason jars, The Groom’s Guide is filled with quirky bits of written advice and nearly 250 illustrations by German artist Cynthia Kittler. Each page has only two colors, a deliberate choice meant to streamline the visuals and distinguish the book from the full-bleed, often cheesy photos that often come with wedding media. It’d be right at home on the books table at Urban Outfitters.
“I think there are bad versions of it out there–all very heteronormative,” says Kasky. “I think we’re trying to highlight what we’ve seen as a sea change in how the groom interacts with the wedding, that they want to be more involved.”
Scharwath looked to his own wedding to the urbanism writer and editor Alissa Walker (whom formerly wrote for Co.Design) for inspiration. “We’re both creative people, and there’s a certain expectation that your wedding is going to be an extension of your personality,” he says. “You have to be scrappy and resourceful in a way that you’ve never done before. It’s also a ton of work. If there’s anything in this book that helps either brides or grooms do that better, that’s a win for us.”
They also spoke with focus groups, and tried to strike the right balance between real, tangible advice (always pay for an open bar) and open-ended suggestions that provide a framework to make decisions easier. “We wanted people to take control of their own wedding in ways that you might historically attribute to mothers and fathers, but instead making it an expression of the couple instead of other people’s ideas of what it should be,” Kasky says.
Of course, The Black Tux is a formalwear startup, so their Groom’s Guide isn’t necessarily encouraging people to opt for more casual options. But it is advocating for grooms to take greater responsibility and ownership in planning their wedding. It does, after all, set a precedent for the rest of your life.
[All Images: via The Black Tux]