The Father of the Bride is usually portrayed like the clueless Steve Martin in Father of the Bride or the frightening Robert Deniro in Meet the Parents. But, with Father's Day approaching we thought we'd look at some of the bigger and more difficult problems that come up between fathers and their marrying daughters and give some advice on how to solve them.
You've been a vegan for years, but your dad insists that you must serve meat at your wedding. You want to get married outside, he wants you to go to a great hotel where he can get a deal ...
For a large part of your life, your dad was undeniably in charge. Depending on how old you are, your wedding might be the first major event you've planned that he wasn't in some ways in charge of, and he may not realize that.The first step in solving these issues is to have some sympathy for the guy. His little girl is all grown up and he's feeling a little old and left out. If you can, let Dad have his way with some things, and ask his opinion often.
If Dad is paying for the wedding, you have to admit that he does have some say in the way things go. If he's a "my way or the highway" kind of guy, you may have to choose the highway and pay for your wedding yourself.
(photo credit: Andi Hatch)
Non Participatory Dad
You don't expect him to have an opinion on napkin color, but it might be nice if he showed a little interest in your wedding plans, maybe if he at least knew when the wedding was?
You have to remember that when your dad got married, he probably wasn't expected to do much besides show up and look good in his tux. Although the wedding industry today takes more care to include grooms, men in general still aren't the main focus of things. If your parents have a difficult relationship, your father may also feel it's safest to just let your mother take care of things.
If you want your dad involved, think about things that might interest him. Is he a gardner, would he like to give opinions about flowers? Could he help research venues or bands? Does he love a good spreadsheet? Ask him to set one up to help you control your budget. Don't expect your dad to know how he can help or what he should do, instead, make sure you're including him however you can.
Too Many Dads
Through divorce and remarriage many brides come to the aisle with a multitude of father figures. Because weddings are so emotional, issues about who walks you down the aisle, who dances the first dance, and even who pays for things take on huge importance to the fathers in your life. There's no one easy answer. Being a biological father doesn't always trump being a stepfather, but being the most present father doesn't always trump biology either.
One possibility is to divide the traditional duties among all the father figures. You can have both your fathers walk you down the aisle, or have one walk you down the aisle and one do the father daughter dance. More than one person can give a toast, or no one can give a toast. Another option is to sit down and really give some thought to what these traditions mean to you, and divide the responsibilities accordingly.
If the decisions are too heartbreaking and controversial, consider doing without any of the traditional father daughter trappings. Walk yourself down the aisle, or walk down the aisle with your partner, your mother, or a sibling. There's no law that you have to have a father-daughter dance, just get rid of it.
Not Enough Dads
As difficult as having multiple fathers can be, it's not as hard as not having your father with you at all. If your father left you at an early age and hasn't been part of your life, you may not miss him on this day, or you may be surprised to find that you do. Let yourself feel whatever it is you feel about the situation.
On the other hand, if your father died you probably know you'll miss him terribly on your wedding day. There are a lot of great ideas for honoring the deceased at your wedding, without slowing down the party. For a beloved father you might consider leaving an empty chair with a flower in it where he would sit, or playing music you know your father would have loved.
There's something in our culture that makes us think that a wedding will solve all our family problems. In truth, weddings have a tendency to bring these issues to the foreground. However you solve your father issues around your wedding keep in mind that you need to do so in a way that leaves room for the two of you to go back to your relationship when the wedding is over.