Thirty to Wife

The Tell-All Groom's Guide to Weddings - How to Get Hitched Wthout Losing Your Mind or Your Fiancée


By Craig Michaels

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around May 7, 2013. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

You’ve met the perfect woman, you’ve summoned the courage to propose, she actually said yes…now what? Craig Michaels’s Thirty to Wife is a funny and informative wild ride through one soon-to-be-groom’s last month of bachelorhood. Being more of a “let’s elope” kind of guy, but wanting fulfill his fiancée’s dream of a fairy tale wedding, Craig embarks on a crash course in schooling himself on what to do (default), what not to do (habit) and how to stay sane when the wedding plans get out of hand.

Thirty to Wife isn’t just about one guy’s journey; it’s a field guide for all grooms and brides (care and feeding tips included). Navigating the treacherous waters of wedding details (including responsibilities, budgeting, and traditions), Craig shares his triumphs and tragedies in valiant effort to help grooms-to-be avoid making the same mistakes he did. Brides-to-be will better understand what their mates are going through—and will take comfort in knowing that things could be worse.

Beginning thirty days before The Big Day, Craig manages to get himself to the altar without losing his mind – or his fiancée. Charming and chock full of useful tips and ideas, Thirty to Wife will have every prospective groom—and bride—not only laughing in the aisles, but walking down them too.



(aka a Foreword from Craig’s wife, Deb)

IF ONLY CRAIG put a fraction of the effort into our wedding planning that he did writing this book.

If only.

I really hope you enjoy reading about Craig’s misadventures and mistakes as my hopeless fiancé. While I’m not thrilled in everyone reading about what went right and, more often, what went wrong, as his wife, I am proud of his ability to turn a frustrating time for two ordinary people into a humorous story for many to delight in and learn something from.

To be honest, I’d prefer this book to be a love story and not a cautionary tale, but as you will find out, marriage is all about compromise. I’m saving that topic for my own book.

Craig asked me to share some advice with his female readers. Advice that didn’t include canceling the wedding. Male readers will get more guidance than bargained for inside the book. So, for the ladies who are completely stunned that their Prince Charming has suddenly turned into a smelly toad, I offer these three simple rules:

         Give your fiancé manageable and accomplishable tasks and deadlines. Remember that men are problem-solvers.

         Don’t let him off the hook for extended periods of time. Prevent him from underwhelming you.

         If he relents and still doesn’t meet minimum expectations, make him read or re-read this book. Cover to cover. And say three times, “I won’t pull a Craig.”

Congratulations on your engagement and good luck with your wedding.


P.S. Craig wasn’t really that bad.

P.P.S. Craig added this after I turned in the text.

P.P.P.S. No I didn’t.


I WOULD LIKE to thank Julie Burton for believing in me within ten seconds of my three-minute pitch; Lilly Ghahremani for being my biggest fan; Renée Sedliar for slicing and dicing like no one else; Karen Paluska for her designs; David Fitzpatrick, Paul Jacobson, Rick Wolfgram, Brian Maude, Bob Tollenaar, and all my friends for starring in my adventures and listening to my recaps over and over again; Mom, Dad, Jon, all my family, and my new in-laws for their never-ending support; our dog Lucy for serving as my always-available sounding board; and, of course, my wife, Deb, without whom this book and, more important, my life would not be the same, for (1) loving me enough to marry me and (2) loving me even more to allow me to share our story (okay, my version of our story).


All tragedies are finished by a death.

All comedies are ended by a marriage.

(George Gordon, Lord Byron)

I SHOULD HAVE eloped. Plain and simple. Taken the money and run. Had my cake and actually eaten it, too. But that would have been too easy.

Most women have been planning their weddings since they were little girls. Guys? We can’t plan toast without forgetting the bread.

Now, I’m different. My dream wedding has been etched in my brain for years. Instead of a guest list of hundreds, a big white canopy on a grassy field, miles of flowers, and a twenty-piece orchestra, my needs are much simpler. Man, woman, and license. Maybe add a pen and someone to pronounce us man and wife, but that’s it. Cheap, quick, and with much lower blood pressures.

But I love my fiancée, Deb. She’s smart and pretty, and we go great together. She is the one I want to marry, and she wanted a fairy-tale wedding. So, since life—or at least wedding planning—is full of compromises, I agreed to support Deb’s grand vision.

How bad could it be?

Bad enough for me to write down my experience to help others better steer these treacherous engagement waters. So, read on. I implore you. And not just because I want to sell more books, although that’s a good start.

You may be the first of your buddies to get married, like me, and face asking yourself, where’s your Obi-Wan Kenobi? To whom should you turn for advice, comfort, and solace? Your fiancée? Your dad? Your bartender? I don’t think so. And if you did already, let me guess their responses.

             Fiancée: “Don’t you love me enough to figure this out on your own?”

             Dad: “Don’t you love her enough to figure it own on your own?” (read: “How the hell should I know?”)

             Bartender: “Another double vodka tonic?”

Or, maybe you’re the group’s last unmarried holdout and think, by now, you know it all. Or at least have seen it all. Don’t flatter yourself. Unless you go through your own wedding or get a behind-the-scenes look like I’m about to give you, you’re not privy to what really goes down. And out. And down further. And out the window. It doesn’t matter that you’ve been a best man twice, a groomsman four times, slept with five bridesmaids, and bore more than your fair share of rings when you were eight. You’re still going to need help figuring out your own wedding.

Now, I’m not a relationship expert. I don’t have a PhD in human psychology. And I’m sure not a habitual groom. Once is enough for me. I’m an average guy. Not a metrosexual (although not for lack of trying). But, also, not a rabid NASCAR fan (although I do enjoy the tailgating). Just an average guy getting married. And doing a below-average job at it.

I looked at every groom guidebook out there. Actually, I had no choice. Deb bought them all and slipped some under my pillow, left a few in the bathroom, and voice-recorded the remaining ones to my iPod. But none of them told the whole story. In fact, most didn’t tell any story. Just pages upon pages of responsibilities, requirements, and reasons why you have all those responsibilities and requirements. How’s a red-blooded, short-attention-span man raised on MTV, Howard Stern, and five hundred television channels going to digest all of that? More important, why should you have to digest all of that?

You shouldn’t. That’s why you should listen to me.

Welcome to a chronicle of the last month of my single life. Let’s call it a self-imposed sentence of thirty days to wife, which will include the good, the bad, and, of course, the ugly. This isn’t really a “how to” or “how not to” guide. Treat it more like a “you’re not alone” handbook with a few wedding facts thrown in for you to impress your bride-to-be, girlfriend, or that stranger you just bought a drink for. (You lucky dog. Don’t rush things.) And think of me not so much as a cautionary tale-teller, but as your guinea pig—going through the motions and making all the mistakes so you don’t have to.

Aren’t you lucky?







One month to go


Wine and dine her

     Plan a wedding-free moment by going to your favorite restaurant. Relive your first date. Or kiss. Or you-know-what. Ask how she’s doing. And really listen. Don’t race home to catch the end of the game. Or the latest episode of CSI. That’s what TiVo is for. And if you don’t have a TiVo, add it to your registry.



How late am I?

Help choose bridal registry

8 months

Start honeymoon plans

8 months

Complete honeymoon plans

5 months

Order wedding rings

2 months

Attend dance lessons

2 months

Complete guest list

2 months

Shop for honeymoon clothes

2 months

Order wedding attire for self and groomsmen

2 months

Check marriage license requirements

2 months

Select gifts for bride and groomsmen

2 months

Help fiancée with Couple’s Shower thank-you notes

2 months

Have bachelor party

2 months

Pick up wedding rings

2 months

Begin financial consolidation

2 months



Bachelors should be heavily taxed.

It’s not fair that some men should be happier than others.

(Oscar Wilde)

THE VEGAS SUN beats down on me. A slightly ill-fitting tux clings in all the wrong places. Two hundred eyes focus on my every move. My mom and dad tightly flank me. I’m staring down the barrel of the aisle.

It could be the dry heat that’s keeping me from sweating through my tux, or maybe it’s the two sticks of Right Guard I used this morning.

My mom is talking about how beautiful everything looks, but her words never fully reach my ears. Dad’s peaceful silence screams volumes.

Who am I? Am I cut out to be someone’s “husband?” Can I give up my fast and furious, living-on-the-edge lifestyle? Did my brother remember the ring? Did I confirm the honeymoon? Okay, now I’m scared. What do I do if I’m not equipped to actually take Deb’s hand?

It’s 4:30 AM. I can’t sleep. It’s been this way every morning for almost a year. Must not wake Deb. Pull arm from under head. Cross over Body. Tiptoe out door. Phew.

I feel my way to the couch, full of pity for our neighbors below as they receive yet another predawn stomping from above. Maybe I’ll leave them a note today.

      Sorry for the noise, but I don’t have long to live.

      I am getting married soon.


      Apartment 302

WEVE BEEN ENGAGED for eight months. Dating for over two years, I’ve had more than enough time to “get off the pot,” as it was eloquently put by some of my friends. And not just the female ones.

I popped the question on New Year’s Eve. Deb wore a red dress. She always looks good in red. I wore my standard khakis. And for some reason Deb always thinks I look hot in them. An early tip that she was the one? Or a sign of severe vision impairment destined to be genetically passed down to future offspring?

Never was I so sure of anything in this world. Buoyed by excessive alcohol, a ticking biological clock (guys get them too), and a natural urge to ensure survival of the fittest (vision impairments aside), I got down on one knee and asked Deb to marry me.

It wasn’t the most romantic moment. Or the most graceful. But it was ours to cherish forever. Or at least a few days.

“No planning for two months. Guaranteed,” Deb promised as she basked in the glow of her engagement ring.

We didn’t make it two hours.

      “Who are your groomsmen?”

      “What food should we serve?”

      “Where should we honeymoon?”

      “When will we register?”

      Why, oh why did I start us down this path?

Then I remember Deb’s comment way back on our fifteenth date. “You know I’m not dating for sport.” I guess neither was I.

And I know that I haven’t found much sport in planning our wedding. Successfully blowing off every responsibility is a challenge in and of itself. What’s to stop me from finishing with a perfect record?

My blushing bride, for one.

If someone actually finds the woman who fancies the spontaneous city hall wedding over an elegant affair at the Top Of The Mark, he’s found the one in the million (possibly billion). But the 99 percent of men on this planet should give in a little. Apply some effort. It won’t hurt much, and there will be great rewards for the smallest of contributions. Why haven’t I listened to that voice in my head and not the one saying “Dude, relax and stay clear of planning. You’ll only mess it up”?

I’VE BEEN SITTING on the couch for a few hours, awaiting Deb’s wedding wrath (read: another reminder of today’s to-do’s). It really doesn’t matter what I didn’t do or what I need to do. The experience is the same (read: I’d rather have my teeth pulled).

Miraculously, no wrath. Just love and the opportunity to plead my case.

“You know I’m not a details guy. That’s not why you fell for me,” I offer.

“You better fucking become one,” Deb counters. I’ve definitely brought out Deb’s alter ego with all of this.

“No problem. New me. Starting today. Promise.” Please don’t pummel me.

Am I in denial? Am I ready? Is it only the wedding standing in my way of lifelong bliss?

Shouldn’t I just stop bitching and look at the big picture? I want Deb. Deb wants wedding. Ergo, I want wedding. It’s pretty simple. Only thirty days left.

But these thirty days are also my last remaining ones as a bachelor. As such, I feel compelled to squeeze as much out of this precious time as possible. It’s not like I’m looking for a good time from every woman passing by. But this is it. Regardless of divorce statistics, once done, we’re married. Years will pass like minutes. Or will minutes pass like years? I’ll keep aging. And aging. And aging. And so will Deb. But that’s a worry for another time. I’m already late for work.

THE FIRST THING I do at the office is take an Emotional Inventory of all things Craig.

      How is Craig today?

      How can Craig better himself?

      What makes Craig feel good?

      What makes Craig feel bad?

      Does Craig treat others as Craig expects to be treated?

      Does Craig have an inner child yearning to be free?

Has Deb brainwashed me overnight? Has she switched my Maxim with her Cosmopolitan in an attempt to better prime me for marriage? This is bad. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t stop. Because I must overcome my nagging PMS, land that great guy, and drop two dress sizes before next summer. I definitely have been reading the wrong articles. Regardless, I assess.

Good emotions

Bad emotions








Empty pocketness

A tie. Not bad, given my circumstances. The sky isn’t falling.

Deb’s call breaks my concentration. Or lack thereof.

My side of the conversation is always the same. “I promise. I’ll take care of it. Yes, I am an asshole. No I won’t be an asshole forever. I love you. No, I don’t expect you to say it too.”

Thanks to Deb, I remember to send a check to the invitation printers. Better late than never. In fact, those are the terms I have with all of our wedding vendors. Well, at least those are the terms I have with myself. Because once a vendor calls Deb asking why a payment is late, my tone quickly switches to “blood, firstborn, or direct withdrawal, whichever is easiest.”

Mom calls next. No chance she’s going to call me an asshole. Just checking to see how things are going, whether I’m eating well, and if there’s a chance I’ll be moving to New York any time soon. Typical mom stuff, repeated by typical moms everywhere. Alexander Graham Bell may have done wonders for interstate commerce by inventing the telephone, but he certainly didn’t do any favors for us New York boys who have ventured westward, seeking sun, surf, and California babes. Sure it’s tough when one’s so far away. But, still, the calls can get a bit repetitive.

Maybe instead of shunning cross-country parental interactive technology, I should embrace it. High-definition Web cams (to make sure they’re sure I’m getting enough rest). Networkable refrigerator barcode readers (to make sure I’m having enough broccoli). Real-time financial transaction tracking (to make sure I’m saving for a rainy day).

I’m positive once I have children, things will become a great deal clearer. And muddier. Clearer because I’ll see me in my son or daughter and finally understand when parents say “wait until you have kids.” Muddier because I’ll see my parents in me. And realize how right they were. Will I then self-destruct like a robot that just received conflicting instructions (Must be cool dad. Must not let kid stay out late. Must not embarrass. Must protect. Danger. Danger.)?

Deb’s friend and soon-to-be-bridesmaid Annie’s call breaks my concentration. Or, still, lack thereof. “Tell me about Deb,” she asks. Am I ever going to get work done today?

Deb’s bridesmaids are preparing a quiz game for her bridal shower. Sounds harmless enough. I answer questions about my beloved and our relationship and, at the shower, they ask Deb the same questions. It could be cute. Or chaotic if we don’t match many answers.

Luckily, this call constitutes the extent of my involvement in Deb’s shower. A stark contrast to our Couple’s Shower. Who invented that one? In the official rule of weddings, I am pretty sure this is an optional event, but “optional” doesn’t seem to be in Deb’s vocabulary lately.

I WASNT SURE what to expect from a Couple’s Shower. Well, I had some ideas, but they were way off. No water. No lavender bubbles. No hot couples exploring their innermost fantasies. In the end, Deb and I both thought the Couple’s Shower was fun, but for very different reasons. Deb loved talking about the wedding with friends and family. I got to drink beer with my buddies. The price I paid was playing a few feel-good games that no man would voluntarily participate in, like:

         Touch your mate. A blindfolded Deb had to identify me by touching body parts of the male partygoers. No, I didn’t get a chance to do the same. No, Deb didn’t pick me out. She mistook Joe, her sixty-year-old uncle, for me. Yes, I started going to the gym more.

         Share candy, share story. People innocently picked M&Ms from a jar and then were told that they had to tell as many Deb and Craig stories as they had M&Ms. Poor Patrick. His candy double-fisting took forty minutes to recover from. Even the M&Ms had enough. They melted in his hands after the third story.

         Dress up. Now it was my turn to be blindfolded. In front of everyone, I had to pull things out of a suitcase packed with possible wedding-night attire and try to put them on Deb. I figured out the teddy and slippers, but was a little stumped when it came to a diaphragm. “Why do we need an ashtray?”


On Sale
May 7, 2013
Page Count
256 pages

Craig Michaels

About the Author

Craig Michaels, a graduate of the University of Virginia and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, has been happily married for three years. Craig owns and operates, an extensive website serving as a sounding board to help grooms not make the same mistakes he did. Craig currently is the Director of Content Programming for a new video-on-demand service and has managed a wide variety of products, including Apple Computer’s iMac. Craig lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife Debora and Lucy, their year-old Labrador. This is his first book.

Learn more about this author