So your little girl is getting married – congratulations! Being the father of the bride is a joyful occasion, although it can also be a little hard to get used to the idea of your daughter growing up and becoming a wife. Learn everything you need to know about your role with this primer on wedding etiquette for the father of the bride.
The first thing that the father of the bride should do when his daughter becomes engaged is to extend an invitation to the parents of the groom. If the bride’s parents are still married, they would do this together, but if they are not, the father of the bride should make the effort to reach out to the groom’s family on his own. A dinner or brunch is the usual way to spend a little time getting to know the other family. Be sure to tell the groom’s parents how happy you are that your daughter will be marrying their son. By the way, this initial meeting is definitely not the time to bring up potentially controversial topics, such as how much everyone intends to chip in for the wedding or differences of religion.
Another very important piece of etiquette advice for the father of the bride is that he should publicly support his daughter’s choice of spouse, no matter what his private reservations about the match may be. Of course, any dad would talk to his daughter directly if he fears that her fiance is violent or unstable, but other than that, it is not his choice to make. In many cases, the bride’s father simply needs to take the time to get to better know his future son-in-law, and will come to appreciate his fine qualities just as the bride does. When that day comes, you don’t want to have previous negative comments floating out there, waiting for the day when someone indiscreet repeats them to your daughter or her husband.
Traditional wedding etiquette states that the father of the bride pays for all of the ceremony and reception expenses, with the exception of the wedding rings and the bride’s bouquet. These days, however, it is more common for the wedding costs to be spread around between both of the bride’s parents, the groom’s parents, and the couple themselves. The bride’s father should be clear with his daughter from the start of the wedding planning process what he can afford to contribute, whether it is paying for the entire wedding, paying for certain expenses, or giving the couple a set sum of money towards the wedding which they can add into their total wedding budget.
Another piece of etiquette the bride’s father should know is that it is customary for him to give a wedding gift to the bride and groom. Again, if the bride’s parents are still together, it would be a joint gift, but if they are divorced, the bride’s dad would give a gift on his own (or with his new spouse if he has remarried). The wedding gift can be anything from the deed to a house to a cash for the honeymoon to a silver picture frame engraved with the wedding date. The size of the wedding present depends on the father’s budget and it need not be extravagant; what really matters is that it is from the heart. Many fathers also choose to give their daughters a special piece of wedding jewelry such as a pearl necklace. A classic present like a pearl necklace is ideal, because it will be cherished as a sentimental gift from father to daughter for a lifetime.
What other etiquette does the father of the bride need to know? He should plan to walk his daughter down the aisle, do a spotlight dance with her at the reception, and give a toast to the couple at the rehearsal dinner and the wedding reception. Beyond that, the bride’s dad pretty much just needs to dress as his daughter requests and show up to the wedding on time with a smile on his face.
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