The Gentleman’s Handbook Volume VII

So, you're getting hitched...

By The Editors
May 4, 2015 9:00 am

Last year, we told you how to attend other people’s weddings with grace, aplomb and superior best-man-speech tactics.

This year, it’s your turn.

Presenting the Gentleman’s Handbook, Vol. VII: So You’re Getting Hitched.


Want to be?

Don’t want to be but do want to know the bizarre origins behind some of our most hallowed matrimonial traditions? (E.g., Did you know that “Best Man” was once a title desginating the most skilled swordsman among the groomsmen?)

Here’s your crash course in proposal etiquette, engagement-ring selection and throwing a damn good, shitty-cover-band-free reception.

Enjoy the guide.

We’ll see you at the open bar,

To the Flummoxed Man Asking for Her Hand

1. Identify your lady’s BFF.

2. Understand that she has all the answers.

3. Grill her for ring details. A diamond? Vintage? Heirloom?

4. Also proposal style. Jumbotron or private garden? (Hint: never Jumbotron. See below.)

5. Also the elders: Does she want you to ask her father, mother, grandpappy, godmother?

6. Be grateful. You are possibly ruining her BFF’s life.

7. Research completed, improvise.

8. If you’re looking for a theme, we like “quietly magical.”

9. She doesn’t want to be shocked.

9a. She does want to be surprised.

10. Be confident: if it’s love, she’ll say yes in line at the grocery store.

11. One knee.

Put a Ring on It

Four things to consider before you buy: Metal. Stone. Design. Setting.

Metal? Go with yellow gold, white gold or platinum. That’s ascending order according to price.

Karats measure the purity of those metals. The higher the number, the better.

10K: Affordable. 14K and 18K: Sweet spot. 24K: Too soft.

Stone? You’re probably getting a diamond. But know this:

They’re not rare; they’re not, despite what you’ve heard, “forever” —
they’re a well-documented early 20th century marketing ploy by De Beers.

Diamond grading scale considers the “Four Cs”: color, clarity, cut and carat. Here’s a good introduction.

Design depends on the lady. Minimal? Ornate? Vintage? This is where the advice of her BFF and a reputable jeweler come in handy.

As for setting (how the rock is secured to the band), heed these major types:

Type: Tiffany
What It Says: I’m classic. I’m cute. My personal style icon is Audrey Hepburn, circa Sabrina.

Type: Bezel
What It Says: I’m a modern lover. Practical. I love you, but make sure this thing doesn’t get in the way of my everyday.

Type: Tension
What It Says: Geometric. Contemporary. Please don’t put your feet on the van der Rohe and yes, that’s a Kandinsky.

Type: Halo
What It Says: Max sparkle. I want max sparkle. The more gems, the merrier.

Don’t Be Daft — Insure That Ring

So you’re really doing it.

Hats off.

Now let’s talk logistics.

Three months of paychecks or not (our $.02: ignore it; marketing scheme), safe to say you’ll be taking a swift kick to the wallet on this one.

It should go without saying that you should insure that ring.

We recommend Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company.

Loss, damage, theft, “Honey get in here; I just flushed something down the toilet” — all covered.

Preventive repairs, no limit on coverage value, a $0 deductible option — you bet.

Loose stone set by your jeweler?

JM covers that. Not many do.

And they’ve got a dedicated staff of jewelry insurance experts who will collaborate with your jeweler of choice (and even let you work work with that jeweler directly) to replace lost or damaged pieces.

Which happens.

Don’t be the guy who swore it wouldn’t.

What the Tux?

Every gentleman should own at least one tuxedo, especially if that man is the groom.

Our kits of choice, ranked by degree of difficulty:

Classic Black: 
‘Sky Gala’ Shawl Lapel Tuxedo by Boss Hugo Boss
Peak lapels or shawl collar only. Notch lapels are for the office.

Midnight Blue: 
Satin Shawl Lapel Tuxedo Suit by Lane Crawford
A nice twist, especially if the groomsmen are all in classic black. Lapels and bowtie should both be black satin.

White Dinner Jacket: 
Ludlow Dinner Jacket in Italian Wool by J.Crew
For formal locales and higher temps. Must be confined to strictly the groom. Double-check that the waitstaff will not be wearing them.

Groomsmen should rent. We endorse The Black Tux, who do slim, contemporary rental numbers that don’t look like rental numbers.

Shoes don’t have to be patent, but they should be streamlined and have a nice shine.

No matter the tux type, a man can never go wrong with a crisp spread collar shirt with a hidden placket.

Cummerbunds are for the very old or the very fashion-forward.

Playful cufflinks: very few people will see them, and those who do will likely get a kick out of it.

Any man wearing a pre-tied bowtie should be shot on sight.

Danny Agnew
Style Editor

Still a Thing? A Man’s Guide to Wedding Traditions

Is asking her father a respectful gesture meant to engender goodwill between families or an outdated ritual that turns its nose up at female agency?

Are bridal registries thoughtful or excessive when the average marrying age is 28 and many couples earn a handsome dual income?

Should you really make your friends wear those teal cummerbunds?

These topics were hotly debated at InsideHook HQ, and rarely did we reach unanimous conclusions.

So take the below with a grain of birdseed (pass on the rice — it’s bad for the environment), and when in doubt, defer to the bride.


The Best Man dates back to the “marriage-by-capture” practices of Germanic Goths, whereby the groom’s consorts kidnapped his bride from neighboring towns. The most skilled swordsman and de facto leader among the group was referred to as the “Best Man.”

The champagne tower, or “coupe stack,” was a favourite party trick of an Indian Maharaja in the late ’20s.

The first bridal registry was offered by Chicago department store Marshall Fields in 1924.

Tossing the garter originated in the Dark Ages. The ritual served two functions: A) confirming the consummation of the marriage, and B) acting as a token of good luck to other bachelors.

The obligatory “cake smash” loosely derives from a Roman tradition that involved stacking cakes as high as possible and challenging the bride and groom to kiss over them.

The Dollar Dance is an early 20th-century Polish tradition. The gist: male guests pay money to dance with the bride.

Destination — Outta Here 

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes sweeping your new bride off to greener/sandier/five-star-hotel-ier pastures.

Here are four honeymoon destinations we heartily endorse.

1. For the exotic beachgoer
The Nam Hoi
Ha My Beach, Vietnam

A secluded stretch of the Ha My Beach in Vietnam. Open-air garden rooms with plush beds, outdoor rain showers, a well-stocked library and a saltwater pool in front of the beach. On the menu: fresh Vietnamese made from their farm and fish caught off the hotel’s shores.

2. For the king (and queen) of the jungle 
The Boulders at Singita
Sabi Sands, South Africa

You’re here to see the big five: lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape buffalo. The Boulders Lodge at Singita is the nicest and newest in the area and close to the Sabi Sands where these beasts live and where there are few restrictions on viewing them.

3. For the close-to-homebody
Turtle Inn

Belize over Mexico. They speak English. And Francis Ford Coppola’s luxury resort, The Turtle Inn, has five-star huts on a private beach. Scuba, fishing, beaching by day, woodfired pizzas and fresh seafood once the sun goes down.

4. For the city slicker
Les Bains
Paris, France

Over the last 130 years, everyone from Marcel Proust to Keith Richards has graced Les Bains. Reopened recently by filmmaker Jean-Pierre Marois, the chic 39 guest-room boutique has a nightclub, a three-Michelin star chef and stark, modish rooms with Marshall stack stereos.