Being the Father of the Bride is a big deal for just about every dad. Laden with emotion and with a desire to build positive memories (and with a photographer at every event), weddings can make the best dads everywhere break into a cold sweat. It is wonderful to see your daughter grow up, get married, and start her own family, but the events surrounding the whole wedding experience can be fraught with danger and difficulty.
The day of the wedding itself can be a particularly big challenge for a dad. The monumental nature of the event can be overwhelming. Coming to the final realization that your daughter will be part of a new life and a new family can be tough. And it is even tougher if you aren't particularly fond of your son-in-law-to-be quite yet.
Giving Your Daughter Away
The tradition of the father giving away his daughter has its underpinnings from the days of betrothals and arranged marriages. Daughters were considered their father's "property" and it was the right of the father to give his child to the groom. In some cultures, the groom "bought" his right to the bride. Thankfully, times and cultures have largely changed, but the tradition continues a symbol that he approves of the marriage.
Not every father and daughter will want to include this part of the ceremony, although a father walking his daughter down the aisle is a well-accepted and sometimes touching part of the ceremony.
Now, it will seem like you, Dad, are putting your daughter literally and figuratively into the arms and care of someone who is barely ready to accept the responsibility. But it is a wonderful gesture of confidence in your new son-in-law and should be done graciously.
What About Non-Traditional Ceremonies?
Some dads may feel a little squeamish about their daughter and her fiancé writing their own vows, or being married on a mountain top or somewhere even more distant. Those feelings are understandable. But it is important for dad to generally "go with the flow" unless safety is at stake. For example, no matter how much I love my daughter, I would not attend a ceremony that involved skydiving. So take the high road here and let your daughter, her mother, and the groom and his mother have their way.
The Toast or Speech
One fun tradition at weddings is to have the wedding party together for either a rehearsal dinner or a post-wedding ceremony dinner. The father of the bride is expected to take a dominant role in the program at this special event if one is held. In most such settings, whether at a dinner or at the wedding, the best man toasts the bride, the maid of honor toasts the groom, and the father of the bride offers a speech or toast for the couple.
The following is a list of wedding toasting do's and don'ts from the Getting Remarried website.
1. Be prepared. Do decide who is toasting, in which order and what you will say well in advance of the wedding.
2. Be sincere. Do use your own words and speak from the heart. This will be easier for you to remember and mean more to the couple than a toast borrowed from a book.
3. Be brief. Do keep the toast within a two to three minutes timeframe. (Hey, anyone can memorize a two-minute toast.)
4. Be tactful. Do refrain from embarrassing the couple on their special day. The groom's broken heart from an old girlfriend, the bride's nose job, first marriages, what happened during the bachelor or bachelorette party, all should be left out of the toasts.
5. Be complimentary. After all, the whole purpose of a toast is to say something nice about the people being honored.
6. Be practiced. Do rehearse the toast, in front of a mirror, without your notes. (Remember that if you are holding a glass in one hand and the microphone in the other, you would need a third arm to read from your notes!)
7. Be clear-headed. Nerves and memory are not aided by alcohol. Avoid the spirits until after you have successfully delivered your toast.
8. Be mannerly. Do sip your champagne. Wedding toasts are not a chug-a-lug contest. Your glass should not need to be refilled after each toast. Also, clinking champagne or wine glasses should be done with care. Unlike beer mugs, crystal is quite delicate.
9. Be connected. Do look at the couple and the guests while speaking slowly and clearly.
10. Be charming. Do remember to raise your glass during the toast and sip from your glass at the end of the toast.