A wedding should be a happy time for a family, and yet when the parents of the bride are divorced, it can also end up being a stressful occasion. It is not only the bride who has to manage sticky family situations, but her parents as well. To help make everything as smooth as possible, take a look at the wedding etiquette guidelines for divorced fathers of the bride.
When the brides parents have been divorced, it is often difficult for the bride to reconcile her vision of the “perfect” family she thinks is a part of everyone else’s wedding with the more challenging reality of her own family situation. It is important that the father of the bride recognizes this, and does his best to be sensitive to his daughter’s feelings. This may well mean putting her feelings ahead of his own for the duration of the wedding to minimize conflict and stress for the sake of the bride. Even if the divorce was not amicable, it is imperative that the bride’s father tries to get along with her mother and stepfather, if there is one, at least for the wedding time.
How involved a divorced father of the bride is in his daughter’s wedding will depend in large part on what type of relationship they have maintained over the years. There are traditional roles which the bride’s father usually fills, particularly when it comes to paying for the wedding and walking her down the aisle. In many cases, the bride will want her father to do these things, even if they have not been all that close over the years. Of course, when it comes to opening his checkbook, the father of the bride has to use his own discretion as well, and come to a decision about whether or not he is able to finance a wedding, and if so, how much say he expects to have in the planning process.
One of the most emotional questions for a bride with divorced parents is who should walk her down the aisle. Etiquette says that the bride’s father must let her make her own decision with no pressure or guilt. When the bride’s divorced dad was not her main father figure growing up, she may feel like her stepfather is a more fitting escort. On the other hand, sentiment and tradition often take priority when it comes to a wedding, so the bride may well prefer to have her natural father be her escort, even if they have not always been close.
There are a few things that the father of the bride should always plan to do, divorced or not. It is customary for him to stand up and give a brief toast during the wedding reception. The key is to keep it brief and upbeat. If he has not been much involved in the bride’s life, he should not make a mention of that fact; everyone present probably knows all about it anyway. He should stick with gracious platitudes about how happy he is for the newlyweds, and how beautiful the bride looks. When the father of the bride shares some special childhood memories with his daughter, one of those might be a safe thing to include in the toast.
Fathers of the bride usually give their daughters special wedding jewelry gifts to commemorate the occasion. If a divorced dad is not sure of his daughter’s taste in wedding jewelry, there is no shame in asking her which gifts would be most to her liking. Hopefully when all is said and done, the wedding will be a time which can draw a father and daughter closer together, whatever their previous relationship has been like.