Groom and father getting ready

Wedding day duties: Fathers of the Bride and Groom

When it comes to wedding day duties, the workload usually isn’t shared around equally. Simply put: the bride’s dad has a much longer to-do list than the groom’s dad.

Let’s have a quick look at how those duties break down, and also have a think about the bigger picture.

It’s worth noting here that we’re talking about the traditional Church of England wedding – just because it’s the most common style of wedding on these shores.

Father of the bride’s duties

Money

It’s pretty common nowadays for costs to be spread around. But if you’re the father of the bride, you’re likely to foot a bill of some kind. (Usually the biggest one.)

Arriving with the bride

In the car, heading to the wedding, the bride’s father traditionally offers the bride some last-minute wisdom – usually something that sounds profound, but is so generic it’s virtually meaningless.

Bride arriving with bridesmen and father

Walking the bride down the aisle

A task virtually impossible to screw up. Just walk. And enjoy.

Hiding crippling speech nerves

Between leaving the wedding and commencing the speeches, it’s tradition for the bride’s father to look like he’s enjoying himself, while quietly battling continual firestorms of anxiety.

Father of the bride’s speech

This speech tends to be the most procedural and least comical of the traditional toasts, but still very daunting. Once an especially shy father has just finished his speech, it’s not uncommon for the next sip of cold champagne or beer to be one of the best of his life.

It's not always the bride that cries

It’s not always the bride that cries – Corey Balazowich/Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0

Dancing with the bride

Usually the second dance, after the bride and groom.

Drinking precisely the right amount

This is a tough task for any father of a bride. The challenge is to sink some quick booze early on to calm speech nerves, and then carefully ‘tick over’ at a enjoyable but dignified level of intoxication.

General ‘hosting’ duties

The father of the bride is the unofficial host of the entire event. So he needs to keep an eye on all the practical aspects of the day, while also being sociable and keeping everyone happy.

Father of the groom’s duties

[A quick note:] The groom’s father often hosts the engagement party or rehearsal dinner. But we’re looking specifically at the wedding day here.

Paying some bills. Maybe.

The groom’s parents sometimes pay for some of the practical bits of a wedding, like the wedding license. But tradition doesn’t really dictate they pay for anything.

Being in the receiving line

Basically stand with the rest of the main cast, shake hands with guests and be polite. No great challenge there.

Groom, ushers and father toasting for a photo

Groom, ushers and father toasting for a photo – Nosnibor137/Bigstock.com

Support your son. If he needs it.

It’s generally up to the groom to decide how important his father is in his inner circle. Some grooms give them similar status to the best man, others keep their fathers on the sidelines.

Not much, in short

There’s no getting around it – the father of the groom has the fewest responsibilities of anyone directly related to the bride and groom.

Father and son hugging at wedding

So why are these two roles so different?

Well, like many traditions, it’s rooted in defunct social norms. When you think of marriage being a transfer of property (the bride) from father to husband, it makes sense. But that was forever ago, right? Why do we keep the practicalities the same?

Well, you don’t have to. Traditions aren’t rules, and they change over time. So you can assign whatever job you like to whatever friend or family member you like. It’s your wedding after all.

But people rarely do. Whether by social conditioning or sheer coincidence, these bride-centric family roles seem to fit well with most couples.

So if it ain’t broke, why try to fix it?

Do you think the groom’s father should have more responsibility on his son’s wedding day? Let us know in the comments.

About the author

Matt Phil Carver

Matt’s a copywriter and blogger from West Sussex, England. He spends his days helping people simplify their writing and give their words more punch and personality. At weddings, Matt’s always quick to get up and dance, even when the vicar’s telling him to wait for the reception.

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