When Jonathan Morris' daughter was planning her wedding, he thought the groom was getting overlooked. So he planned a guys-only "man shower" to welcome Brian Wigand into the family.
The party included manly snacks, games and gifts.
“It seemed like there was a lot of hoopla for the ladies and not too much for the guys,” said Morris of Maple Valley, Wash. "It was really fun, male bonding."
Showers geared to grooms are a growing trend in the wedding industry, said Allana Baroni, the entertainment expert for the web site ehow.com. Men who have grown accustomed to attending coed showers with their wives and girlfriends in recent years now find guys-only parties an acceptable rite of passage, she added.
It's another example of grooms leaving their stereotypical roles behind, she said, noting that male bridesmaids and female groomsmen are becoming more common.
That doesn't mean they're abandoning tradition. For Rob Wise, the man shower was a warm-up to, not a substitute for, the bachelor party.
“It was precursor, a chance to get the guys together and let off a little steam,” he said.
Highlights of the party included playing football, drinking games and Rock Band, a video game where players perform in virtual bands, said Wise, who married Michelle Creel in June.
“First and foremost, it was getting all my friends together in one place,” the Baton Rouge, La., resident said. “It meant a lot for everyone to mingle before they got to the wedding.”
Men also are recognizing that showers are a great way to acquire tools and other necessities needed to maintain a home, said Abby Buford, spokeswoman for Lowe's Home Improvement stores, which launched an online wedding registry in 2006.
The company knows the registry appeals to grooms, but does not track whether more men or women use it, Buford said.
The parties are natural progression of the grooms' increased involvement in wedding planning, said Summer Krecke, executive editor of WeddingChannel.com.
“They're saying, I've been doing all this work. Here's my opportunity to have some fun,” she said. “They're wising up to the fact that there are gifts involved.”
Members of the Dekker family normally shower grooms-to-be with tools and gadgets at parties they've dubbed "man gatherings." They opt for informal gift wrap.
“You bring (the gift) in the plastic bag you bought it in,” Nick Dekker of Columbus, Ohio, said.
The "man gatherings," usually held to coincide with the bridal shower, give the husbands, brothers and uncles an opportunity to hang out, the 29-year-old said.
“It does go hand in hand with guys being more involved in planning the wedding,” Dekker said. “It's a way to keep them involved.”
His friends recently organized a "man gathering" to help him celebrate his wife's pregnancy. During Elizabeth Dekker's baby shower, Nick Dekker and his buddies ate pizza and played video games.
The idea of man shower made sense to Wigand, who recently helped his father-in-law throw a similar party for another relative.
“There was no teasing or anything,” the 26-year-old said. At his shower, guests ate from old license plates, participated in a nail pounding contest and were judged on how manly they wrapped their gifts, most of which were tools.
“There was a lot of duct tape,” recalled Morris, 58.
One guest built a box out of plywood and Wigand had to use a screw driver to open it.
Wigand, who was heavily involved in planning his November 2005 wedding, said the party was "a whole lot of fun."
“It was great to have all these guys coming to support me,” he said.