Rick Webb wants to blow up the idea that men aren’t interested in planning their own weddings. In fact, he’s so adamant about the subject that he wrote a book about it: Man Nup, an unassuming guide to wedding planning that’s free of the usual “‘til-death-do-us-part” stereotypes and geared toward grooms who want to play an active role in the process.
If anyone knows about upending a staid industry, it’s Webb. He co-founded digital ad agency The Barbarian Group (and sold it for a reported $20 million), consulted for some of the most innovative companies in internet history (such as SoundCloud and Tumblr) and is now a thriving presence on Medium. Webb’s also familiar with the pressures of wedding planning: He invited a staggering 500 people to his own wedding, and handled almost all the details himself. (He took a backseat when it came to selecting a dress.)
Drawing from conversations with men who planned their own weddings along with the experience of planning his own, in Man Nup, Webb details a shrewd economic approach to wedding planning—one that uses obfuscation as a way to disrupt the “the wedding-industrial complex.”
In this episode of the MEL Interview podcast, Webb explains how Disney-esque gender norms have left many men unprepared to plan their weddings and shares what he did to keep down costs as he planned his own wedding. Read an excerpt from the interview below or listen to the full recording on SoundCloud.
How much of this book is intended to help straight guys appreciate the work that tends to fall to women in straight relationships?
That question is a little more complex than it might seem. I had to ask myself why I was writing Man Nup at all. In an ideal world of gender equality, there shouldn’t need to be a wedding book for men. But when I read a few books about wedding planning, I realized most of them were incredibly sexist. They think women are really interested in different icing flavors and that they really care about the dye used to color their slippers. Plus, people in their 40s like me were raised to assume certain things about weddings — whether they agreed or not. About what a wedding dress is, about what a bridal salon is, about what a tiara is. And none of those things are necessarily true.
Another thing that came across in your book is that there are so many things you need to take into account when planning a wedding. The sheer amount of decisions you have to make is exasperating.
For me, it was doubly surprising, because I’ve thrown large events with 500 people; I’ve spent $50,000 in booze at company parties. So I thought, “How different can it be?” But there’s a profound difference between renting a venue and getting 500 people drunk, and making an experience that’s both moving and touching. I really underestimated that in the beginning. Another difference is that weddings involve this giant industry that’s geared toward taking your money. It’s sort of like buying a mattress. It’s one of these industries that’s founded on obfuscation because you only do it once or twice.
Are you saying that the wedding industry is ripe for disruption, to use a phrase from your industry?
I coined the joke term “the wedding-industrial complex,” but everybody knows it’s true. There’s absolutely economic models around it. It’s an inequality of information that the consumer doesn’t understand, or doesn’t have the market information. They therefore can’t make rational purchase decisions.
That kind of relates to one piece of advice you repeat throughout the book, which is, “Never state your budget.”
Totally. If you can get away with it, don’t even mention it’s a wedding that you’re throwing. If you call and sound super professional, they’ll think you’re calling from a company that throws events and that you might move your latest event to another venue because you know how much everything really costs, which will get you a better deal. On the other hand, if you call and say, “I don’t know how much food costs,” you’re going to get a very different rate.
Check out the rest of our chat with Rick on The MEL Interview:
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