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Kick in the Bells

A groom’s guide to handling the bride — if you’re getting married, do your best to steer clear of movies like ‘Forces of Nature’, ‘Bachelor Party’, ‘In & Out’, and ‘The In-Laws’

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I’m getting married. If I weren’t, I wouldn’t be able to tell you off the top of my head how much it costs to hire a harpist, why a photographer who gives you the proofs for free is charging too much, and exactly what a bustle is. And while there are plenty of things a groom-to-be learns when planning the wedding, none is as important as this — and fellas, I’m saying this only because I care: Do exactly what your fiancée says.

Not to say that this is a life lesson, but for the months preceding the ceremony, your beloved will have the temperament of unstable nitroglycerin — if you don’t handle with care, she’s gonna blow something fierce. The easiest way to avoid this is, repeat after me, do exactly what your fiancée says, no matter how trivial.

When my nigh bride, Sue (let’s call her Sue because if I didn’t, and called her, say, Janet, she’d probably think that there was another woman named Janet who meant enough to me to mention instead of her), forbade me to see Forces of Nature in the theater, I acquiesced, not quite realizing what the hoo-ha was all about. Now, six months later, after we’ve decided on the Chicken Wellington with the gravy on the side and limited the guest list to 180 of our closest gainfully employed relatives and friends, do I understand her position. There are just some movies that your significant other won’t want you to see because they reveal potential land mines on the road to marital bliss.

DON’T LET HIM TRAVEL ALONE, EVER, or he’ll invariably find someone as irritatingly charming as Sandra Bullock to get waylaid with. In Forces of Nature, Ben Affleck plays a docile groom en route to his betrothed (Maura Tierney), who’s busy planning their nuptials halfway across the country. When the flight goes awry, and Ben and Sandra must travel from New York to Savannah together, Forces triggers every bride’s nascent fear that her man will find someone else irresistible — and that she won’t be close enough to fight for the right to marry.

”CHICKS AND GUNS AND FIRE TRUCKS AND HOOKERS AND DRUGS AND BOOZE” or ”Exactly what your fiancée thinks will be present at your bachelor party.” There’s no getting around it: While Tom Hanks ignores the litany of temptations set before him and remains true to his intended (a pre-Whitesnake video Tawny Kitaen), your beloved will walk away from Bachelor Party thinking ”Yes, his friends probably will bring an Arabian stripper and a donkey to the festivities.” Which, if your friends truly care, they will — they just won’t take pictures.

OKAY, THERE’S SOMETHING I REALLY SHOULD TELL YOU No one ever wants to be left at the altar, and if that happens, as it does to Joan Cusack in In & Out, it’s usually because someone didn’t divulge the dirt when he should’ve. Of course, big secrets (you’re already married; you’re gay; you’re really an Afghan camel peddler wanted throughout the Middle East for corking your humps) are worse than little ones (your toenails are all Lee press-ons), but if the movies have taught us anything, it’s that full disclosure is the way to go.

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY Yes, I’m sure they’re nice; they treat you all right and they’re letting you marry their child. But there’s something a little freaky about in-laws. Or maybe it’s just the idea of joining a family with a whole mess of back story that no one’s going to tell you anything about. For all you know, Dad could be some unhinged, globe-trotting spy, like Peter Falk in The In-Laws. Not that he wouldn’t be fun — nothing spices up a holiday dinner like ribald tales of kid-snatching tsetse flies — but you want the path to happily-ever-after to be as smooth as possible. The last thing you need as you walk down the aisle is some kook ducking and weaving behind the pews, shouting ”Serpentine!”

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