As a Father of the Bride, I went into this whole thing with very little wedding knowledge. In the end, I learned that weddings are something a father pays for without getting any say in the decision making process. Planning a wedding was an eye-opening experience to say the least. My daughter has been married four months now, so at least we can say we made it. But we had our fair share of bumps and bruises along the way. Now I hope to pass along some advice to daughters whose fathers are just as clueless as I was and fathers who want to give their daughters the world.
A father’s first question will always be “Who is paying for all this?” Things got tricky when it was brought to my attention that the bride’s family traditionally pays for the entire wedding. Let’s just say I did not share in that belief. In fact, I remembered hearing somewhere that the groom’s parents are expected to pay for the whole thing, and I wasn’t going to argue. But in the end we settled on sharing the costs between all of us.
My daughter tried to counsel me on how much to give to the “wedding fund” base on the average cost of a wedding in Nebraska. Each time we spoke it seemed the average had gone up, leading me to believe the U.S. inflation rate is much higher than 3%. I tried to explain to my daughter that the only reason the average is so high is because of the fathers who spoil their daughters and give them whatever they ask for. It’s not that I didn’t want to give her what she wanted, but that since I have a son that is about to go to college, a house payment, retirement on the horizon, and the desire to eat, I thought it best to control costs. Then again, I can always sell plasma, right? And in a pinch, I only need one kidney.
I learned that weddings are full of unexpected expenses. Sure, we budgeted for flowers, food, and the dress (that, just in case you didn’t know, is only worn once). Turns out there is a lot more to a wedding than that. A few months before the wedding, the bride and groom came looking for me to cash in that kidney. This got a bit ugly between my wife and me, with my wife saying ‘no more’, and me wanting to do all that I could. After all, it was my only daughter and I wanted to give her what she wanted. The official answer ended up being ‘no more’, although I cut a deal behind the scenes with the bride and groom.
I always thought you get married in a church, right? Unfortunately I was wrong (again). Our church wasn’t ‘pretty’ enough (their words, not mine). All the parents were invited to go along to look at the first potential venue. My daughter was sold from the moment she stepped on the property. Unfortunately everyone had their own opinion and the whole afternoon ended with tears thanks to my daughter. For whatever reason, the parents weren’t invited to look at any other venues after that.
The bride and groom found a “contemporary” reception venue. But it wouldn’t work for the ceremony so they had to find a second location. All I could think was “Won’t that add cost?!” But once again, my opinion didn’t matter and they signed on the dotted line.
With the wedding just a month away, I was finally asked to help. My daughter asked me to pick a song for the father/daughter dance. And so I did! In fact, I picked several since I knew that she would like choices. I spent hours reviewing lyrics to make sure the song was appropriate (you’d be amazed how many rock songs don’t have appropriate lyrics for a father/daughter dance). I narrowed it down to about 15 songs, ranked them in the order of my preference, and sent them to my daughter expecting her to choose one. Only problem was, my daughter didn’t inherit my great taste in music. She nixed all of my choices and gave me a list of her own. I argued for awhile, but ultimately chose not to make a battle out of this and let her have her way.
In the end my daughter got married. We all made it through and life is more or less back to normal (minus a few gray hairs). Father’s – Even if you are asked for your opinion, give it sparingly. Your daughter is probably just asking to be polite. Be prepared for those uncomfortable money discussions. No matter how you look at it, a wedding is expensive and costs add up quickly. Especially when you want to give your daughter everything and, as always, have a hard time telling her no.
To all the daughters out there – Know that in the end your wedding is great, people have fun, and you’ll be married by the end of the night. Find some ways to include your father in the planning if you can, because he really does want to be involved. Your dad would give you an endless budget for your wedding day if he could, and I promise that when he says “no” it hurts him as much as it hurts you.
Most importantly, enjoy the process. As we began the final countdown to the wedding day, my daughter was constantly calling and coming over. I pretended not to care one way or the other, and so did she. But really those moments are too good to pass up. Don’t focus on the fights (trust me, you will have plenty) and instead enjoy the amount of time you get to spend as father and daughter. Because before you know it that time will be gone, replaced by holidays with a son-in-law you still aren’t sure you like and plenty of nights wishing you could go back and do it all over again.