The father of the bride (FOB) role can be tricky, especially with modern wedding traditions and evolving trends. Blended families are also more common in weddings today more than ever. There can be two fathers, a stepfather, or a grandparent as the father figure. What’s a bride to do?
We researched the traditional wedding family roles and talked to some recent brides. It was clear that there are no set rules determined for the bride’s father. Every family is different, and responsibilities should be based on what is comfortable and works best for the couple.
If a traditional approach is chosen, there are a few custom responsibilities for a bride’s father. It’s understandable that all of these can be modified to fit the situation and family dynamics.
The father and mother of the bride can offer to host an engagement party. If there are multiple engagement parties, for instance, with other parents or close friends, it’s common practice that the father of the bride has the first pick on the engagement party date. It’s a nice gesture for the bride’s father and mother to attend the other engagement party, if available.
Per tradition, the father can escort the bride down the aisle. Again, this is ultimately the bride’s decision.
During the reception, the FOB duties typically consist of providing some remarks or a speech at dinner. Traditional etiquette says the father of the bride or host of the wedding gives the first toast. Also, it’s custom to have a father and daughter dance at the reception.
Other Things to Consider
As the wedding plans take shape, a bride’s father can become involved in other areas.
The wedding budget is always a conversation that needs to happen. This financial discussion can involve the couple and parents. Emily Post’s advice on dividing wedding expenses says, “Today, traditional budgeting often no longer makes sense, and it’s perfectly okay to look to other options to create a modern spending plan. It may take a mix of people contributing different amounts to create a plan that’s right for your dream wedding.”
It’s courtesy for the sets of parents to meet at some point. This meeting would be another opportunity to include the father of the bride.
The FOB may be consulted as the guest list is compiled. A guest list is an essential part of planning a wedding. It can also be one of the biggest headaches. Clients, old friends, neighbors, and co-workers may all be up for discussion on why they may, or may not, be asked to the wedding.
It’s expected that the bride’s father will be available for wedding day pictures. Photos are a large part of the day. The couple and photographer will decide who is included in photos, and when and where the photos will happen.
In Real Life
Responsibilities of every FOB vary and are usually based on the family situations. We asked a few recent brides how their father participated in the wedding. Here are some responses:
“He attended most of my wedding dress shopping appointments. He has met with our travel agent and had many discussions with her about the destination aspect of the wedding. He enjoyed having a say in the resort we chose. He is also helping me find a great father-daughter dance song for us, because he loves music.”
“Dad didn’t especially care to be a big part of the wedding planning. He would ask me how the planning was going. He was able to provide a budget and was open for me to have fun – within limits.”
“To my surprise, my father took dancing lessons to make sure he was ready for our father-daughter dance. He was part of the taste testing for our reception menu, gave feedback and was instrumental in selecting dessert.”
One FOB shared his thoughts on father duties, “He should make sure the guests are comfortable throughout the wedding, meaning that they have a drink in their hand! He is the last to leave the ceremony and makes sure everyone gets home safely. He is her protector for the day of her dreams!”
The truth is, there is no right or wrong role for a father of the bride. Just like each wedding is different, every bride-father relationship is different. Whichever way the father participates, remember the day is about celebrating the couple and sharing in their happiness.