Christine and I

Christine and I
Father & Daughter

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

10 Can't Miss Rules for the Wedding Party

Rule One: Show up on time
What is really cool about being in the wedding party is that "attendance" is over 50% of the responsibility. The hard part for many seems to be showing up on time. I know that sounds crazy but you would be shocked at how many weddings are delayed because they are waiting on someone from the wedding party. When you get asked before you accept please make sure that you have the "whole day/weekend" available to stand up for your friend, brother, sister.  For them it is an "all-in" affair. For you it is "being there" to witness the event. That means showing up on time.

Rule Two: Bring ALL your stuff
This sounds obvious but you would be surprised how often people forget items they need. Men have forgotten tux jackets; women their dress. We even had a bride that forgot her dress. We suggest you make a list of what you need and check it off before you get in the car. Your role at the wedding is to be a "witness" and to stand with them not slow it down or delay it because you forgot your bow tie.

Rule Three: Be nice to your "assigned attendant"
It is not marriage, a long term commitment or even a short term commitment. Whoever you are connected with for the wedding; just go with it. Other than walking back up the aisle and maybe getting introduced at the reception, you will most likely rarely see this person again. You may also be asked to sit with them for the dinner. Just remember that this goes quickly. Perhaps they are an interesting person and you can enjoy their company? Note to the bride and groom: When setting up seating in the reception consider whether you want to have the "groomsmen and bridesmaids" sit together for dinner. It is completely appropriate to have them all sit on one side or the other or have them sit with someone they invited to the wedding.

Rule Four: Stick around for Pictures
Pictures...lots and lots of pictures. Expect it. Smile, enjoy and most important stay in the room where they are taking them. You will be taking pictures before and after the wedding. Your attendance is mandatory-that's why you need to show up on time. This is very important right after the wedding. The wedding party has a tendency to "drift off" to the bar area. Please hang in there. At our place we bring the drinks and food to you so you are not missing anything.

Rule Five: Don't get hammered
How best to explain this?? You will have another 364 days to drink yourself silly. This is not the day. Remember this is your friends/ relative most important day of their life. Have fun, be crazy, keep your clothes on, no lampshades, throwing up, etc.

Rule Six: Dance...
When people measure the success of their wedding, many times it is about people dancing at the reception and having a good time. I cannot begin to tell you how many brides and grooms have huge expectations for the dancing at their wedding. You can help. Put your dance on and join in early and often.  This is especially true after dinner when the party is ramping up.  If the bride/groom and the wedding party do not lead the dancing time it just does not happen. Guys it is just not the bridesmaids. They need you as well.  Sometimes the bride and groom are just not into dancing; if so; you are off the hook.  If they are, then your participation is mandatory.

Rule Seven: If you get to make a toast..."stay classy San Diego"
This is more for the maid of honor and the best man but it could apply to you as well. Make the toast classy. It's not your wedding, it's not a frat party and most important it is not your audition for comedy central. Especially the "adult"comedy central. They chose you for a reason. They love you and they trust you. Now is not the time to bring up everything you ever did that "mom and dad" did not know about. Most people probably know that you "drank" in college. This also means they know you got sick and did stupid things. Be classy. Say something nice, funny and important. If you really feel the need to let loose; do it at the bachelor/bachelorette party.  One more thing; keep it short.

Rule Eight: Don't try and pick up the coordinator, waiters, waitresses, etc.-use the rest of your life for that.
This is mostly for the men. Wedding crashers was just a movie. This is especially true for the staff and workers. Trust me they have heard it all. Contrary to popular belief you are not cooler or more suave after you have had a couple of drinks. If you like someone try again when you are sober or at any other time other than the wedding.

Rule Nine: Ask if they want you to cover your "tats"

Tattoos for some can be out of place at weddings. They give a "different look" in gowns. We see a lot of bridesmaids cover up their tattoos for the wedding. Not sure if this something your bride cares about or not. But, they might. Be a friend and ask if they would like you to cover them up.

Rule Ten: It's not about you
This could have easily been the number one rule. It's just not about you. It's about you when you get married. Not today. It is about your friend/relative. Have an opinion? Coordinated a wedding? Don't like the wedding time, rehearsal location, or color of dress? Keep them all to yourself. If you are in the wedding; you have a history with this person. They love you and want you to be a witness for them on the most important day of your life. This is a great honor for them to choose you. You are important. Let's face it some day you may want them to stand up for you. Please know that they will also be a little crazy during this time. Give them some slack and help them make their day great. Just never forget they chose you because that would make their day great!

Have fun and enjoy the wedding!!!

Please check out an earlier blog called "Ten Can't miss rules for a wedding guest"

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The "other entrance"

Many of our blogs have focused on the "front chapel doors" and the beginning procession of the wedding. There is another procession going on. Less participants,virtually 100% male, and with a lot less fan fare- the grooms entrance. It's less fanfare because it is from a "side door"; many people miss it because they are focused on the bridal procession and let's face facts; it is not the bride. I figured we might want to shed some light on the "other entrance".

From the back of the chapel you see grandparents, parents, bridesmaids, ring bearer, flower girl and of course; Dad and the bride. Lot's of scurrying around, make-up checks, flower positioning, proud "grandmother smiles" when being escorted by her favorite grandson and tears-lots and lots of tears. Mom is either just about to break out and cry (but she usually does not), many of the bridesmaids tear up, unfortunately the ring bearer and flower girl-depending on their age- are the most likely to cry. Dad's are doing everything humanly possible not to cry. (Either you are a crying Dad or not. There is no middle ground here. I fought it.)The bride for the most part does not cry; (she and the groom usually wait till the vows) but she can tear up after she looks at her Dad one last time.

Over at the groom's entrance, things were a little different. Actually much different. Only three types over there:the pastor/officiate, the groomsmen and the groom .

The officiate is by far the most serious of the bunch. He is reminding the groom of where to go and when. He also offers a hearty congratulations and usually a comment about "not taking more than an hour or two for the ceremony". That usually gets a laugh from the groom.

The groomsmen are usually a pretty long line of guys. At our location, that line can stretch back to the groom's suite...where the TV is. So the end of the line is either watching the end of a sporting event or checking out the chapel cameras and watching the wedding. Next is the group talking about one of two things: how miserable they are in their tuxedos or everything and anything but the wedding.  Yes, it ranges on all subjects. No nerves, no stress and no tears.  There may be a conversation of hoping they do not trip, trying to remember the name of the bridesmaid they are walking with or how hungry (or thirsty) they are while hoping they can make it till dinner. These conversations though are pretty rare. Conversations are about everything but the wedding.

Finally it is the groom. The star (one of the stars...) of the show.  Usually the groom looks great. He has most likely just gotten back from walking his mom down the aisle and has scurried back into position. So a little breathless with one of two looks on his face. Mostly it is a sort of "deer in the headlights" look-resolute yet with a healthy dose of fear in his eyes. The other look is someone that has their game face on. Not alot of smiling but focused on the most important day of their life. He is usually talking to the best man. After a couple of fist bumps, maybe even a hug you would think there would be silence while they wait. Instead they move right into conversations about how much they will drink afterwards, their favorite college football team or the love life or lack thereof of the best man. In other words, the men while away their time talking about and doing the same things they always do. Let me be clear. The groom is ready, focused and really anxious to "get this started". It's just that guys seem to deal with the nerves and emotions much different than the "other entrance" of the chapel.

They then proceed out into the chapel; people glance at them and then turn their attention to the back of the chapel.

My perspective is that the "girls" wedding begins when they stand outside the doors of the chapel it is "game on". For the guys, including the groom; "game on" happens when they actually see the bride. Not just the groom but all of them. If you watch that seems to be when it clicks for them. I know it is hard to watch both the bride and the groom. Here is a hint: At the Piazza when the doors open the bride and Dad are standing still; they then take a step and stop again at the doorway. If you think of it; steal a glance at the groom. Pretty cool look on his face! It is definitely worth the glance. Then just follow his eyes back to what put that smile on his face...

Whichever entrance to the chapel they take; everyone ends up in the same place, at virtually the same time and with the privilege to share with the bride and the groom the most important day of their life.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A part of the procession

My vantage point for a wedding always starts the same way. I am on the "left" of the open door if you are facing into the chapel. It's a good spot. From there I get to see everything unfold. Grandparents, parents, bridesmaids, flower girls, ring bearers, and finally the father of the bride and one of the two stars of the show: the bride.

I have just begun to notice (and yes this seems obvious and after 100's of weddings I should have noticed earlier...) what a great honor it is to be a part of the wedding party. Everyone who "walks" ahead of the bride has a special place in the couples life and experience. So much of what we see is really encouraging:
1. The grandparents: Such a family legacy of the "generations" celebrating. They are always the most proud and quick to offer up what "number" grandchild this is and how many more they have. Many times there is only one grandparent and they often comment on how they much the "departed" would have loved to have been there.
2. The parents- Mom of the bride is alway last. The look on her face is something to see. On the one hand she looks beautiful and is simply beaming. If you look really close there is also a look of "life gone by" as she walks the aisle. I would be remiss if I did not mention there is just a hint of "tired/sense of accomplishment" there too because she has worked so hard on the wedding. Do not want to forget the groom's mom. She is usually much more relaxed. Some will comment how much easier it is being a groom's mom than when they have been the mom of the bride (her daughter). Usually a son will walk each mom  down the aisle. That really is a proud moment for both.  I recently saw a wedding where a groom's mom was walked down the aisle by the groom. Right behind him was his three brothers and then the groom's Dad. It was a powerful sight to see the men in her life walking her to her seat.
3. The bridesmaids: So many different reactions. Some crying, some REALLY nervous, mostly laughing( and making too much noise). Some of the girls put this huge smile on their face and walk down the aisle enjoying every moment of being the center of attention. Others smile ( usually a nervous smile...) and walk slow yet with purpose to move the attention to someone else. Sometimes the grooms man walk down the aisle with them. You can see the difference so easily when they do this. For the men- this is the last thing they want to do. Rarely a smile and their pace is significantly faster.
4. Flower girls and ring bearer- Flower girls were born for their part. Smiling, wearing a dress, hair made up,  cute and loving every minute of it. For the ring bearer they are just beginning to find their place. Most, you can tell, want nothing to do with it. They are too young to really know why yet. I would say 25% of the boys do not make it down the aisle without assistance. Last week we had one go half way and sprint right back.
5. Finally the bride. I have written about this moment before. If you have not ready my very first blog, here it is: The bride is radiant and beaming with joy. Yes, she is nervous. This is the most important day of her life. Our coordinators adjust her dress, and make sure she is ready to go. Usually it is one or two deep breathes, a final squeeze of her dad's hand and one simple nod. The door opens and well... you know the rest.

It is such a cool thing to watch. It truly is a privilege to see this so many times up close and personal. I hope if you are soon to be a part of the wedding party, you will enjoy it and remember just how important you are to the bride and groom.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Your words

If you are a Father of the Bride at some point people will want to hear from you. Many Dad's are okay paying the bill, walking the aisle and even dancing the Father/Daughter dance. Many wish to draw the line when it comes to "welcoming folks" or having to make any sort of speech. Odds are pretty good you will be speaking.

There are two points that are pretty well known (not including your required... Who gives this bride? responsibility) where you have an opportunity to say something. These are at the rehearsal dinner and at the reception.

Usually at the rehearsal dinner it is a very relaxed opportunity with very close family and friends. Everyone speaks yet like the entire event your words really do stand out. It is a great time to share stories, funny moments as well as expressing your love and affection for your daughter. I could almost say "anything goes" however I would leave it to your daughter's friends to embarrass her or create some awkward moment.

The other time is at the reception. I would say that 50 to 75 percent of the time the Dad of the Bride (usually he is the one that paid for the wedding/reception) will make some opening comments. These are usually very short but the most successful ones have the following in them:

1. A welcome to the grooms family and also to your family and friends.
2. A special thanks to any grandparents of the bride and groom that are there.
2. Say something nice or funny about the groom. Welcome him into your family.
3. Acknowledge the brides mom and thank her for her effort.
4. Say something sweet and nice about your daughter
5. Encourage everyone to have a good time.
Note: This is usually not a time to offer a toast. You usually speak after they have had their first dance and prior to the meal.
Note 2: It is okay to have a "cheat card" or something to remember your subjects.

That's it. Obviously it is your wedding so you can add or delete from this list but this will pretty much cover it. In many instances the groom and bride may say something as well. You may want to tell your daughter that you would like to welcome everyone after she has her first dance.

I would be remiss if I did not tell you that this is not the most important words you can have at your daughters wedding. There is another more special time and that is right before she goes down the aisle.  Hopefully you have read my earlier blogs and know to kick everyone out of the bridal suite prior to the aisle walk and make sure you have some alone time with her. It may only be two or three minutes (At the Piazza it is very cool because you can actually watch the wedding with her as everyone goes down the aisle.) but they can be really special. It is just you and her and she is about to do the most important thing in her life up to that moment. For you it will be a moment that you will never forget. Your daughter is getting married! Have some words to tell her; encourage her, tell her you love her, pray with her, make her laugh. You will not want the moment to end.

Make it special for her. Remember on this day; your words do count.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Divorce and Dads

We had a wedding recently where the parents of the bride got in a yelling match during the picture session. It somewhere between really uncomfortable and downright ugly. The bride was in tears and the groom looked ready to vomit. I thought it was important to send out a message to "divorced Dads".  This does not mean that all Dad's that are divorced get in arguments or families that are not divorced do not get in arguments. I am not picking on divorced Dad's with this "advice". For those that are not divorced, I still think there is some healthy information here. Maybe the grooms parents are divorced and some of the information could be of use to you? At worst case it will encourage you not to get a divorce...

So this blog is to Dad's who are divorced.  I was one of those Dad's. There is so much to tell you  and as you already know, very little time. Everyone of these issues may not pertain to you but hopefully some will mesh. Here are some "rules' you can use:

1. It's not about you... If there was one short and sweet message we could send to (all) parents, guests, vendors, family, etc.; it would be; this wedding is not about you. For Dad's, it is about your daughter. If you can start here then everything else is going to fall into place. If you can't get this from the start, then you are going to have problems, I promise you. If you are divorced, then perhaps your next thought is; "I get this...tell my ex." Good thought but this blog is called "Father of the Bride". This wedding is not about you or your past or present feelings. It is about your daughter and the young man she intends to marry and spend the rest of her life. PS: "It's not about you" is the very first sentence from the book; "The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren". A great book.

2. If your relationship with your daughter is not what you want it to be; try and fix it now. (Not the day of the wedding...) I know this is incredibly hard and obviously has an enormous amount of potential potholes. We see Dad's all the time that do not walk their daughter down the aisle. Some brides do not even know if their Dad will show up. Some have to wait to the last minute and see if their dad will come to the chapel and walk her down the aisle. You already know all the different obstacles and issues here. Try and see if you can fix some of your issues way before the wedding. This is a perfect time. My hope is that you want to fix it; wedding or not. Maybe you need to ask forgiveness? Maybe you need to forgive? Maybe you just need to tell your daughter that you love her, miss her and want to be a part of her life and her wedding. I know in each case it is far more complicated than this but it really is quite simple: On (you fill in the date...) your daughter is going to get married and have the most important day of her life. Most likely the day she was born was your "best day ever" but this wedding has great potential! Walking your daughter down the aisle and getting to dance with her is very, very cool. Why not do your part to make that happen?

3. If they want you to wear a tux; see rule number one above: Wear a tux. No questions asked. Just do it.

4. Figure out early what role (if any) the "step-parents/girl friend" are going to play. I wrote a blog dated: October 9, that listed the ten biggest mistakes made by guests at a wedding. Please read it. Nothing can cause more stress than the "steps/others" and their role or lack of role in the wedding. This is such a tense issue that there is no set rule. The only thing I can offer is that you start with Rule number one above and this also applies to step-parents, girl friends, grand parents, etc. Please try to see it through your daughters eyes. She has a vision and if possible you should try and help her achieve it. To brides that may be reading this..." Your parents are divorced; it was not your fault; and yes you are burdened with the consequences that come with their decisions." If you are getting married then you are now an adult and that means that the actions you take now "are your fault". Try and have empathy for your parents as well. Please treat everyone like an adult (even if they are not acting like adults), make decisions that show respect and love (even if you do not feel respected and loved...) to all involved. This is your wedding. Make it classy and fun for everyone."

5. Pay for some, part, or all of the wedding- I really do not care which this is for you. Everyone will be different. My recommendation is that it just not be zero. Most people think that Dad's most often pay for the wedding. This is true in many cases but not all. This is not intended to pressure you into spending money you do not have or start a war with your ex or daughter about past hurts, divorce rules, etc. I just want you to participate. Actually I really want you to offer to participate to whatever level you can and then hopefully participate. You will not regret it.

Weddings are stressful right from the start. If you are divorced, then you know that family events have another level of stress. Herb Kelleher, former President of Southwest Airlines was once asked why Southwest was so successful. He said:' We love our employees. Our employees love our customers. When you have that much love; you can make a lot of money...

You and your ex love your daughter. Your daughter loves you. When you have that much love going around; she can have an amazing wedding day....

Friday, February 4, 2011

What to do when the stress/panic sets in...

We are getting a lot of snow in Dallas Fort Worth right now. It is creating havoc with the Super Bowl. Vendors, retailers, guests all had high expectations to party, shop or simply arrive in town on time. With every icy cold day that passes, the  time available to accomplish their goals is shrinking as we progress to the big game.

No different for a wedding. Lot's of work, fun and family with a due date that does not change. Inevitably something will go wrong and that usually means panic or at a minimum a lot of stress.

So as the Father of the Bride, what should you do? I have watched a number of Dad's navigate these troubled waters and I have had to do it myself. This is by far not a complete list of advice but it should get you started:

1. Remember this is a wedding and everything leans emotional and not rational. I know this is not true in all cases but when your daughters (or your wife's/mom's) head starts rotating 360 degrees over the selection of napkins, I want you to be prepared... A wedding is probably the most emotional event your daughter and her mom have ever been involved with together. Lots of pent up expectations and a completely unrealistic desire on everyone's part (including yours) that everything be perfect.  This means that even small issues can become large issues. My advice is too look at every issue and treat it as a big issue. This means everything is important and EVERY thing can produce stress and tension. I am basically trying to eliminate you telling them "this is not a big should not be getting upset about something this small...". It also is your daughters wedding so everything to you should be a big deal.

2. Ask early and often where you can help out: Natural inclination is to stay out of the way (Note: I have perfected since childhood: The less you know; the less you have to do...). That does not work in this case. If you are involved early and often then you can provide direction, opinions and help because you get what is going on. Never hurts to have a "meeting" once a week to get a status and find out where you can plug in.

3. Keep a close eye on the money- Early on there are lots of deposits and lots of vendors added. Be aware that these are only deposits and those numbers will grow. Just because a venue has a food and beverage minimum does not mean that you can plan on being below it come wedding day. If you have a large number of guests you will most likely exceed that number. Nothing builds stress like money issues. A budget by vendor is a good idea. How much you are targeting with each type vendor will help to keep things in line. You can always adjust as you go and move the money around if one is more than the other. NOTE: If you know what your daughter wants you can help her to prioritize what is most important to her. If you don't either you are going to have to spend much more than you expected so she can have EVERYTHING she wants or she is going to be disappointed. That is why you stay in touch.

4. Connect with the Groom with and without your daughter: Let's face it. She is soon going to be all his... The sooner you two can get on the same page the better. This is a great time to get to know him more and also to build the kind of team work you hopefully want for the rest of their lives. Also he is getting the brunt of all issues and he could certainly use some support as well. You might be able to go through him to get some of your ideas implemented. If you have not noticed she is probably a little more open to his ideas than yours anyway.

5. Take care of at least your side of the family: Have an issue with your side? You need to step up and take care of it. Even if it is not "what you do..."; you need to step up in this instance.

Stress and challenges never end: Expect it up to the very moment when she walks down the aisle. Embrace it, enjoy it and just remember in most instances you also get to pay for it!

Hope this helps.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year and Getting some answers for you

If you are reading this blog it means that your daughter is most likely going to get married this year (2011). Maybe it just happened this past weekend or over the Christmas holiday. If so, welcome to the club. Either it is just around the corner or you have a little breathing room before the big day. My intention is to help you get ready. Sometimes the information is for you and other times it will be for her. This time it is for you.

The advice is simple. Spend a little time asking other "Dad's" who have had daughters get married if they have any advice for you. Don't restrict the advice subject or even the timeliness of the wedding. Ask people that had daughters married last week, last year or even in the last century. Ask your father in law. Ask a grand parent.  You get the idea. Just ask them for their advice. You will have fun with the answers.

After you get by some of the early responses that will usually revolve around: how much more money they spent than expected. how crazy things got or they cannot believe what "Aunt "Harriet" or Uncle "Fred" did that night; you will be excited, impressed and maybe even shocked by their responses.

Here are some great questions to ask them.
1. How big was the wedding? Was there too many people? Not enough? Where did they get married?
2. What was their best moment?
3. Do you have any advice for me?
4. What would you do differently if you could?
5. How was the walk down the aisle? The father/daughter dance?

Finally don't forget to ask your daughter about her expectations, dreams, ideas. After all she is the star of the show. Her mom (if allowed) is probably the Director and that leaves you most likely with the title of Executive Producer... you know what that means.  That title of course goes along very nicely with "Father of the Bride" as well.

Note: Please make sure that you go back and read some of the earlier blogs. There is one called early steps that has some great information for new brides and their Dad's.
PS: If you have a question, just send it to me at I would be very pleased to answer it.