How to be an F.O.B.: a survival guide for the father of the bride
Having recently been a father of the bride, I’d like to share with you a few of the questions that surfaced in the months before my daughter’s wedding—along with their sometimes (and sometimes not) surprising answers. Fathers, think of this as a cheat sheet to the most expensive half day of your life.
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QUESTION 1: Does the bride’s family still pay for, um, everything?
Depends. And by, “depends,” I mean “yes.” There are rebels who say crazy things about “splitting” and “being fair.” That’s crazy rebel talk. It’s not catching on, mainly because half of the people hate it. Eat and drink a lot at the rehearsal dinner—that’s your revenge.
QUESTION 2: I’ve got my own tuxedo! This is a great chance to wear it, right?
This is a qualified, “yes.” And here’s the qualifier: Are you James Bond? Not one of the old ones, either. Are you the current James Bond? Because if not, then “no.” Wear what you are told to wear. And don’t worry, they’ll tell you.
QUESTION 3: Should I take dance lessons to impress the reception crowd during the father-daughter dance?
No. Make a square on the floor over and over like a football lineman at his high school prom. No one is there to see you bust a move. Or bust anything else.
QUESTION 4: Are you sure? I’ve got some sweet moves.
Maybe you do, but again, this day is not about you. Except for the part where you pay for everything.
QUESTION 5: What is my role in planning the wedding?
See above. Specifically where it says, “pay for everything.” Otherwise, your profile should be as low as possible. Imagine you are dodging emotional shrapnel. Keep your head down!
QUESTION 6: So, I can go play golf the morning of the wedding?
You want to keep your head down, not have it removed completely! You have to appear to be interested while not really having an opinion. Drive around looking for things like collar stays. Keep busy, keep moving, and keep not having an opinion. Go get ice! Everyone always needs ice.
QUESTION 7: I’m sensing some tension between the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom. How can I help?
I’m going to pretend you never said that. You can’t help. Keep away. Don’t look directly at the tension. And if it’s the grandmothers of the bride and groom, then keep twice as far away.
QUESTION 8: Want to hear some jokes? I’ve got some great ones lined up for my toast!
No you don’t. There’s no such thing as a great toast joke. Be sincere. Be nostalgic. Be encouraging. And be brief. Funny is in the eye of the beholder, and none of these beholders wants you to be funny. Especially not the grandmothers.
QUESTION 9: Am I “buddies” with the new son-in-law, or am I the scary reminder that he better be the best husband ever?
QUESTION 10: How can I convey to my daughter that I want all of her dreams to come true and to my son-in-law that I’m so glad to have a new member of the single most important thing in the world to me—my family?
You just did. Say that. Also, that’s a pretty good toast.
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