Not long after I got down on one knee and Nicole, whose neurons were clearly not firing correctly, said "yes," I came up with a theory. My theory was thus: The modern man is not afraid of being married, the modern man is afraid of getting married.

This theory was borne of my belief that most men these days are okay with commitment, but are not so enlightened as to be okay with the maelstrom that takes hold of your life while you're engaged. I am willing to site "ability and willingness to plan a wedding" as evidence that women are the superior gender...or perhaps the exact opposite. Because, honestly, I find the whole thing baffling.

While the old adage may be that the first year of marriage is the hardest, I find it really hard to believe that it can be any more difficult than the year before marriage, or however long your particular engagement might be. And that's not counting the incredibly shitty year Nicole and I have had.

I don't think either of us was really prepared for what a wedding would entail, not so much in detail but in formation. We'd long since come around to the idea that our marriage would be the joining of two families, yes, but we had no idea that the wedding itself would involve walking some kind of fine line of expectations. When you've been with someone for a while, you experience the traditions that the person's family has, and those generally fall under the holidays (one side of Nicole's family actually sings Christmas carols -- no, really). I don't think either of us ever considered that there would be traditions for marriages as well, and that these traditions go much further than whether you open your presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

The problem, in our case, is that our families are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Weddings are not particularly important in my family for a number of reasons. It's a rather sordid tale dating back to WWII and involving two generations (okay, it's not really that sordid, but it's in the book I'm currently shopping around, so I need to make it sound juicy). Even my brother's wedding was a really informal affair, made all the more so by the raging storm that hit the outdoor reception moments after he and his wife said their "I do's."

Nicole's parents, however, had a full blown, over the top, Catholic wedding. We're talking really old church, large wedding parties, and lots of formalities. There's a certain standard for weddings in Nicole's family, and even half of what her parents had is still an awful lot. Nicole is the first child to get married, so the pressure is even greater to at least come close to what her parents had.

But I'm fine with all that, or at least with most of it. I want our wedding to be nice. I want there to be a certain level of elegance to it, a certain level of extravagance. Because I'm only doing this once, so I want to do it as well as I possibly can.

Like most men, however, I have one very specific problem: the ceremony.

I hate the very idea of the ceremony.

I know that sounds insane. What's a wedding without a ceremony? It's just a big party, really -- but I like big parties.

Here's my issue with the ceremony: What Nicole and I have is special and it's private. The ceremony is basically a very pubic display of our love for each other, it's a showcase for the two of us to tell everyone how we feel, to make it "official" in some capacity. And to that I say "bleh." Because what I have with Nicole is no one's damn business. I don't want to share. I don't think I should have to.

And yet that's what I'm going to do.

I suppose, in this case, I'm like most men. It's no wonder that men are more likely to pass out during the ceremony than women. I'm sorry, but when you have all those people watching you and they all expect you to express emotions that you very specifically save for when you're alone, it's a bit much. It's sensory overload. And it is, quite frankly, kind of cruel.

I am dreading the ceremony. I am thrilled beyond belief to be marrying Nicole. I can't wait for the reception and the honeymoon. I can't wait until we get back and we're husband and wife. I'm even looking forward to starting a family. But I absolutely, positively abhor the idea of the ceremony.

I don't think my opinion will ever change. But I suppose it's only appropriate; it would be unrealistic for me to get all these amazing things if I didn't have to do something to earn them.

I just need to remember: don't lock my knees.