Words of wedding wisdom: THE BRIDE’S DAD … how to handle his feelings

Welcome to this series of articles based on my popular book, “The A to Z of Wedding Wisdom” … a few juicy extracts that you might like, to give you a taster of what the book can do to help make your wedding (or a friend or relative’s wedding) superbly successful.

This time, we look at…

The Bride’s Dad

This is a time when many brides will suddenly notice that dear old Dad has gone a bit sulky or quiet, and will wonder what the trouble is – if they have upset him, or done something wrong.

Basically the problem is that he is a bit jealous, and a bit saddened. Jealous because he feels he is “losing” his little girl to “another man,” and saddened by the thought that he is being made to move over and no longer be the most important man in your life. And that’s likely to be lurking underneath all the goodwill and bravado. It doesn’t matter how much he likes your fiancé and how much he may be looking forward to golfing weekends with his son-in-law and how much eventually he wants to be a Grandad. He still feels a bit jilted. And suddenly he feels old, especially if you’re the first among your siblings to get married.

Fathers also like to feel in control of things, and the thought that their little girl is getting married and will be emotionally as well as practically independent may introduce an element of insecurity. He’s not the boss of the family any more. This problem lurks behind many examples of fathers of the bride who try to use money as control mechanism, where paying for the wedding is concerned.

Fathers may also go into denial, and stay aloof from the wedding preparations, pretending not to care. They may laugh at all the fuss that’s going on, or complain that the house is being turned upside down and they can’t find anything. They may project their anxiety into the father-of-the-bride speech, and fret and worry themselves silly over it.

Whatever happens, it’s important to realize that if your Dad is behaving a bit strangely, he probably has good reasons for it – essentially, because he loves you very much. I know this is hardly a time when brides need a prima donna to cater to, but try to spend as much time with your Dad as you can, and reassure him that you’ll always be his little girl. He may brush you off and poo-poo your concern – men in our industrialized society are not meant to show emotion – but deep down he will feel reassured and comforted.

Who gives you away?

Not all father-daughter relationships are sweetness and light and sometimes a bride will not want her birth father to give her away at all.

If there is any concern over whether you should be given away by your father or step-father, birth father or adoptive father, etc., don’t feel obliged to make a decision in favor of one or the other.

You can also choose to be given away by your mother, sister or brother, or to not be given away at all – you walk in with your groom, or on your own, and that’s it. In many cultures and religions this is perfectly acceptable and goes a long way towards defusing arguments.

Estranged fathers

Further to what I said in the paragraphs above, don’t feel obliged to involve your father in the wedding preparations or the ceremony if he hasn’t been around for years and hasn’t contributed to your welfare. Many people say that blood is thicker than water and the fact that someone is a close relation should take priority for major family occasions like weddings. I say that’s nonsense in this case.

What matters is your happiness, that of your partner, and the success of your wedding. Estranged fathers do sometimes emerge from the shadows for big celebrations like this, for their own reasons. Don’t be intimidated if that happens to you. Make your decisions based on who you want to be there, give you away, be in the receiving line at the reception, and make the speech. It’s your day.

For all 174 pages of helpful tips and advice, grab your copy of “The A to Z of Wedding Wisdom” from Amazon (USA), Amazon (Canada), Amazon (UK) and all other Amazons.