So this article is about groomsman gifts, but it’s also about perfectionists, weirdos, family shenanigans, an awkward relationship with Pinterest, symbols and signifiers and ultimately what matters most and pulls us home.
That is, admittedly, a peculiar start. Gregory and I also have a peculiar start because, well, it’s not that peculiar, it’s arguably incredibly boring. I’m an event planner, he’s an event photographer, one time we both met on the most hot mess job either of us had ever worked (someone wanted to do a Mermaids + Luau + Pirate + Coastal Country themed wedding and…let’s just say we did the very best we could with what they wanted and it was incredibly photogenic but…we bonded at the end of it but both swearing never to cite it on our CVs or in our books)…and that’s where we’ll leave it. We made each other laugh. We still make each other laugh. We will probably make each other laugh until we die, so, we’re getting married.
When Gregory and I got engaged and started planning a wedding, we (ok mostly me, but still we were both involved) really wanted to have something which reflected both of us, our (ok again, mostly mine, but Gregory DOES very much have his own sense of style) aesthetic, our tastes, and would also be welcoming enough to family but still an awesome party and… It took some doing. Considering that we were getting married for the first time in our early 30s, and not right out of college or grad school, the cultural climate is already a little different.
I’ve been planning weddings for a living since Pinterest was still invite-only, and Greg has been shooting events (especially weddings) since around the same time (funny how we met, hey hey?). Because of the nature of our jobs, we’ve seen a lot of trends present themselves, rise, become oversaturated, fade into oblivion, or somehow just become part of the array of “event themes” that may or may not continue in perpetuity. In other words, we were wary of anything that would be too on-the-nose (or just off, which would be worse) but we also wanted to have an event which reflects us both as individuals and reflects our aesthetic sensibilities as professionals, without having the wedding just seem like another job.
This turned out to be rather a crazy proposal.
In the end, we decided to go super-simple, and get married at City Hall wearing glorious clothes (Greg’s suit came from NY by way of Freeman’s Sporting Club, my college bestie, now a small designer in New Orleans, made my dress), and throw a party in a friend’s oceanfront warehouse. Arranging the reception wasn’t bad at all – once we started calling industry friends and explaining we were overwhelmed and could they help us, we suddenly had an incredible, legitimate DJ, a hot jazz trio, and mariachis. With another series of calls, we had food and booze galore: Call us cliché, we totally did the barrage of food truck things, and it was amazing. Also, people who convert their ice cream trucks into mobile cocktail stations should be blessed.
One thing I absolutely wanted to make sure of choosing well, and thoughtfully, was bridesmaid and groomsmen gifts. Call me old fashioned, but I can’t help it. I’m an avowed sentimentalist, I used to read my grandmother’s aged blue copy of Emily Post for fun as a child, and, though our wedding may be simple and our reception untraditional and our bridesmaids and groomsmen not required to wear dresses or special suits, both Gregory and I each had a cadre of close friends and relatives that we wanted to, if not literally stand up with us at our wedding, stand up with us at our reception and just be honored for their role in our lives. I had 4 close girlfriends, for whom shopping was going to be terrible easy: I LOVE Waxing Poetic jewelry and everyone who knows me well has either heard me rhapsodize about it or has gotten a piece signifying something about our friendship. I’ve steered brides to Waxing Poetic so many times I’m probably up into the dozens now.
However, when it came to groomsmen gifts, Greg and I were flummoxed. He had a quartet of his own (his brother, his childhood best friend, his studio mate from art school, and his adult best friend and photo partner, Charlie.), but gifting them something “wedding” related that wasn’t either totally utilitarian or totally boring was hard. Of course there’s good booze, flasks, hats, hoodies, pocketknives, cuff links, etc…but…none of these things seemed right. And that’s when I learned about POET.
I showed Gregory the line (after luring him with a Symbol Signet Ring – he has a yen for them), and we decided that a combination of the BOAT CLEAT WRAP BRACELETS and COMPASS KEY TAGS, along with yes a bottle of everyone’s agreed-upon favorite mezcal, was perfect. Why those pieces?
Gregory comes from a sailing family, and the BOAT CLEAT WRAP BRACELET is a pretty unobtrusive piece of men’s jewelry – it’s neither flashy or is it so utilitarian it looks ugly, it’s just…unassuming and oddly elegant.
The COMPASS KEY TAGS seemed totally fitting too, since, one uses a compass to find their way, and one ties a boat up to keep it from drifting, and in a sense all of these guys had been those things for Greg in his life, growing up, during adolescence, at art school and otherwise.
I never thought Gregory would be so into the symbolism but as soon as he saw what kind of stuff POET was making, he was pretty enchanted.
So was I. Here was a men’s jewelry line by my favorite brand that managed to reflect the things I love about Waxing Poetic (integrity of design, sensitivity to materials, not trying to force an aesthetic onto someone but letting one’s individuality show through, etc. – and beautiful craftsmanship) but translated into a men’s dialect. Although I initially got Gregory into POET for groomsmen gifts, he’s now a huge (by my standards) fan.
In the end, our wedding was simple, our reception was glorious, our families were happy, our friends helped us save ourselves from working at our own wedding, and our people — our respective squads got both Waxing Poetic and POET swag, some delicious mezcal, and our undying thanks for helping everything all together. Even sometimes the pros need pros, or in our case, event “civilians” to help everything go off right.