So, your lovely daughter is getting married. Congratulations! How do you feel? Being a father of the bride is a big deal for just about every dad. It’s lovely to see your daughter all grown up and ready to get married and start a family.
But the wedding itself can be overwhelming, tear-inducing, and a little traumatic. After all, a young man is now taking your place as the most important man in your daughter’s life. It’s the monumental time when you realize that your daughter will be part of a new family. Her wedding will be an essential rite of passage for you, your family, your daughter, and her groom-to-be. It’s even tougher if you are not yet fond of your son-in-law-to-be just yet.
The Origin of the Tradition
In movies, it’s always the dad who walks the bride down the aisle. The grand entrance of the bride typically happens with her father by her side. The father of the bride plays a major role in presenting the bride to her groom, and it’s a timeless tradition around the world.
The tradition of the father giving his daughter away is rooted in the ancient cultures wherein the female children have arranged marriages and betrothals. Daughters are considered as the property of the father, and it is the right of the father to give his daughter to the groom. For some cultures, it means the groom bought his right to the bride.
The word “wedd” is an Anglo-Saxon term that means to “wager” or to “gamble.” It refers to the vow a man gives to marry another man’s daughter. It also means the barter money or trade agreement with the bride’s father for his daughter. Therefore, weddings are traditionally a setup where a father of the bride offers a contract with the groom that he would swap for land, social status, or political reputation, which was important to men back then.
Meanwhile, the term “bride” historically translates to the “role of cook.” In this era of feminism, you can rarely find a woman who would sincerely want that title! The “bridegroom” translates to “the man who is with the bride.” How romantic, right?
A female daughter is considered as a financial liability, and the tradition of giving her away signifies that the bride’s family would no longer have control over her and her possessions and that her husband would now take on the responsibilities and obligations that her father once had. Also, the father’s looming presence in the wedding was a way to prevent the groom from backing out, which is understandable because the bride was considered a financial liability back then.
The Meaning of the Tradition Today
Thankfully, times and cultures have largely shifted. Brides are not seen as a financial liability, because more and more women aren’t ashamed to earn more than their partners. Most couples are both working and earning, making women financial hostages no more. Also, weddings are no longer held because of arranged marriages, but because of love and romance between the bride and the groom.
So, what does a father’s act of passing his daughter to her groom means today? It’s actually more of a symbol of his blessing that he approves of the marriage.
Walking your daughter down the aisle becomes a special moment wherein your daughter acknowledges and honors you for all that you have done for her, now that she is transferring households. It’s also a symbolic gesture. When she was still a toddler, you had held her hand when she learned how to walk, and now you will be holding her hand as you usher her into this new phase of her adult life. It’s really touching when you think of it. It makes sense because it was you who protected her, who picked her up after falling from a bike, who clapped and became proud when she graduated. And her wedding day is the day you will finally let her go.
It’s a practical thing to do too because a bride can have someone to help her keep balance when she trips. And no other person is most right for the job but the bride’s own father.
A Father of the Bride’s Role on the Wedding
Besides walking your daughter down the aisle, here are some other fatherly responsibilities that you are expected to do:
1. Preparing for the wedding event
Since your daughter is getting married, traditionally, you have the responsibility to plan for and pay for most of the expenses on the wedding, such as the bride’s attire, floral arrangements, food, photo and video fees, travel, and accommodations, invitations, and others. Check in with your daughter what you are expected to pay for. Find out how other dads around you have been involved with the wedding planning process. This way you can make wise decisions about spending on the wedding. Don’t be pressured to take a big chunk of your retirement fund or take out a mortgage to be able to pay. Feel free to stay on what’s best for your financial circumstances.
If you know you can help out, offer support for your daughter. Brides need a lot of help in preparing for their wedding, so it will be a great relief if she can be freed from other stuff to think about.
2. Giving a father-of-the-bride wedding speech
While every wedding is focused on the bride and groom, the giving of speeches and toasts becomes an opportunity for all the guests to hear you out. It’s a fun tradition at weddings that are held for either the rehearsal dinner or the post-wedding ceremony dinner. The father of the bride is expected to give a speech or toast for the couple.
So, before the day of the wedding, it helps if you are well-prepared. Know in advance what you will say. Be sincere and speak from the heart – it is your daughter and her beau you are toasting for. Keep it short so as not to bore people. Also, it would be better if you have it memorized because, on that day, you will be holding a drink with one hand and the microphone in another.
Speaking of drinks, make sure you are clear-headed as you go on with your speech. Just sip your wine or champagne, but don’t chug it before the speech. It’s best to avoid the spirits before you have successfully delivered your toast to avoid saying something or doing something embarrassing. And speaking of embarrassment, be tactful on your daughter’s wedding day. Avoid something that will upset or embarrass the couple (or anyone of them) and avoid telling stories that must be kept private between family.
Your speech may contain some humorous and touching stories of your daughter, and you may share some great moments you had with her. You can also talk about welcoming your son-in-law into your family. If you have known him and you see him as a suitable mate for your daughter, then express it – your son-in-law as well as your daughter will be pleased to know. The speech is also your chance to publically thank your guests and all the people who supported and loved your family.
3. Father-daughter wedding dance
The father and daughter dance at the wedding is often a sweet and touching part of the event. Traditionally, it’s an extension of the “giving the bride away,” as the father demands a final dance before giving his daughter to another man.
For fathers, it can have a deeper meaning. It’s a wonderful part of the event that celebrates the relationship between a dad and his girl. Spending a few moments on the dance floor together with your daughter in front of all the guests gives peace of mind to a dad. It symbolizes that the daughter loves her dad, and she knows how special and important he is to her life. It can make a dad realize that he hasn’t lost her little girl. The dance usually delivers sentiments, brings the guests to happy tears, and creates wonderful memories.
Since a father and daughter dance is often sentimental and a tear-jerker, you can add a slide show of your favorite moments together with your daughter, showing heart-warming photos of the bride’s childhood.