I Am the Father of the Bride
Part One in a Series
I am the Father of the Bride.
I have worked at more than 2,000 weddings. I have been the Master of Ceremonies, the DJ, the photographer, the bartender, and the videographer. I have served food, mopped floors, stitched buttons, changed flat tires and jump-started cars. I’ve performed pre- and post-marital counseling. I’ve been the wedding coordinator and the florist and the decorator and even the bouncer. I’ve broken up fights between step-parents and newlyweds. I’ve done every job you can think of at a wedding, and a few you can’t imagine.
Except for Father of the Bride.
It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.
I knew it would happen someday. I am the father of two little girls. At least, they were little yesterday. I know I haven’t gotten any older; when did they grow up?
Just yesterday they were little girls!
Now they are getting married. BOTH of them. Within three months of each other. Am I paranoid in feeling they are ganging up on me?
Bad enough that sending them to college cost more than a nice house. I thought it was expensive to put braces on their teeth. I thought providing them with nice reliable cars was costly.
But at least I had the illusion of control back then. The dentist and the car salesmen made a point to ask, “What do you think, Mr. Shirley?” They at least pretended that my opinion mattered.
The first thing I learned as FOB is that my opinion is irrelevant. My vast wealth of wedding experience doesn’t count. My knowledge of the internal workings of weddings, and my connections to the top vendors in the industry, don’t mean a thing. All that counts is what she wants. Don’t ask the price. Shut up, Daddy, and write checks.
I know what they say. You know, the ubiquitous “THEY.” As in, “They say you ought to…” They always have an opinion, and everyone you know will quote what they say. And what they all say is “Just give her a budget, and tell her that’s all she’s getting. Spend it however she likes, but don’t ask for more.”
Yeah, right. Show me a Father Of Bride (FOB) who claims he has done that, and I will show you a man who is a liar or a divorcee, or both. Possibly an amputee. And likely estranged from his daughters as well.
I hate THEY. They are wrong.
I had this naive illusion that, because of my experience and industry connections, we could host a beautiful wedding for less money than regular people pay. Regular people like my customers! I frequently give clients advice, at their request, about how to save money on their weddings. I work to save them money, it’s part of the job. They listen, and they thank me.
Not my girls! They won’t hear it. To them, I am not the experienced wedding professional, I’m only Daddy. If I start to vocalize the slightest hint of a suggestion, I hear, loud and clear, “Daddy!” The tone is the same as they use to scold a dog. I never complete a sentence, if they suspect I might offer advice.
The younger one got engaged first. I knew she would want a big wedding. So right away, I gave her business cards of some of my favorite vendors: my favorite wedding photographer, videographer, some outstanding caterers, and a great cake baker. Let her make her own choices, or so I thought. Little did I know that it was the Kiss of Death to be one of Daddy’s favorites! People I know and trust, who get great reviews from clients…eliminated in the first round. She didn’t like the photographer’s website; refused to even call him. She wanted her friend’s caterer. The cakes in her brochure looked too…well, something, for her.
Well, I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. 25 years of being Daddy has taught me something. I still know how to use old-fashioned reverse psychology. “You liked the photographers at Rachel’s wedding, why don’t you talk to them? We probably can’t afford them, but you should ask.”
Seed planted. I didn’t mention that I already spoke with them, and approved. Maybe we could get a decision.
No such luck. Turns out they were not expensive enough. So she found one on her own. Forty miles from home, and more than twice as much as the others, she had to have this photographer! Cost? More than her car.
That was when I decided to invoke the advice of “THEY,” and put my foot down. “I will not pay that kind of price for a photographer! I gave you a great photographer, and you wouldn’t speak to him, and I am not going to mortgage the farm for this!”
This was how I learned that I have NO control. They went begging to the Groom’s mother, and she agreed to pay for the high-priced photographer.
I am the Father of the Bride. I can’t win, and I can’t quit.
Scott Shirley is the owner and Entertainment Director for PM Celebrations. He has provided entertainment and event planning services for more than 2,000 weddings, and his daughters let him know that he doesn’t know anything. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Better yet, call him at 817-294-9539. Maybe you can benefit from his money-saving wedding ideas.