Every guest at a wedding plays a role, but it can be argued that the father of the bride holds one of the most important. As a key member of the bridal party, the father of the bride is expected to take on many responsibilities both at and ahead of the wedding day.
This guide will help familiarize you with the most common long-standing father of the bride traditions. You might already be aware of some, but there could be a few that will be new knowledge.
1. Financing All or Part of the Wedding
Traditionally, the bride’s parents pay for the wedding. Times have changed, however, and now the cost is often either divided between both families or covered by the couple altogether. Being the father no longer means you have to shell out a huge sum of money for the wedding. However, most do make a contribution to the big day.
2. Transporting the Bride to the Ceremony
Before you walk her down the aisle, you have to make sure the bride gets to the altar on time. Once she’s all dressed up and ready, it’s your duty to escort her to the ceremony. This may mean you drive her there or just ride alongside in a chauffeured car.
With this being the last moment you’ll share one-on-one before she gets married, it will undoubtedly be an emotional one. It’s easy to get teary-eyed, so make sure to keep things light. You wouldn’t want to ruin her makeup! Skip any heavy talk for now. Instead, lift her spirits with a compliment or two, pass on a piece of advice, and do what you can to ease her nerves.
3. Walking the Bride Down the Aisle
After you arrive at the ceremony, you’ll be the one to walk next to the bride as she makes her way down the aisle. By doing so, you’re symbolizing “giving her away” to the other family. For the father of the bride, this will be the most memorable moment, so savor it.
To make sure everything goes to plan, it’s a good idea to practice the walk beforehand. You might not realize how little nuances such as different walking speeds can ruin a moment. This is typically practiced at the wedding rehearsal. If you’re planning on lifting the veil or blusher, do so when you reach the altar. It’s a good idea to practice this too, as veils can be more complicated than they seem. Again, the rehearsal is the optimal time to do this.
4. Hosting the Reception
The bride’s parents are generally in charge of the reception, so they take on all hosting duties from start to finish. It isn’t true for all weddings, but if you accept the role, you’ll have to ensure the event runs smoothly.
This means keeping all guests happy, making sure all vendors are doing their job, and not leaving anything behind at the end of the night. (It also means keeping the peace between the family members should quibbles arise!)
Being the hosts, you’ll also have to lead the receiving line. As guests make their way into the reception after the ceremony, it’s expected that they are first greeted by the parents of the bride, then the newlyweds, and then the parents of the other family. This job is simple; all you have to do is welcome everyone.
5. Giving a Speech at the Reception
The father of the bride is the first to make a toast and small welcome speech at the wedding reception. Don’t worry if you’re not big on public speaking—it doesn’t have to be anything long or complicated. Keep it simple, warm, and casual. And, of course, always practice.
Your toast should include a general welcome and thank you to all guests, congratulations to the happy couple, and an acknowledgment of the joining of the two families. There are plenty of sample speeches online that’ll give you an idea of what to write, but always include your own heartfelt words.
6. The Father-Daughter Dance
After the walk down the aisle, this will be the second most iconic moment of the day. The first dance of the evening is shared between the bride and groom. Then, the father of the bride joins the dance floor with his daughter (and then the mother of the groom dances with her son). Choose a song that means something to both you and your daughter as this will be a moment neither of you will forget. As with everything else, make sure to practice beforehand and do take a lesson or two if you have the chance.
After the father-daughter dance, you’re free to enjoy the party. Just don’t forget that you’re still considered the host and have a few minor responsibilities left. So, keep a counter on the cocktails!
Regardless, don’t stress too much and make sure you, your daughter, and everyone else is having fun. This is an important day for all those involved and should be one they’ll remember fondly.