Mad About Dad

Outfit, gift, and toasting tips for the first man you loved

Jacket Required

What does your father wear to your wedding, besides a smile as wide as his wallet? Dad's duds should be based on the formality of your wedding, as well as on what the groom and ushers are wearing. Even though he may have the soul and sartorial style of a '60s hippie, if the groom is wearing a tuxedo (for a formal evening wedding) or white tie and tails (for a very posh nighttime affair), so should Dad.

For daytime I dos, your father dons a morning suit or stroller (waistcoat and striped trousers) if the affair is superformal, a business suit or navy or gray blazer if it's not. The exception: As the father of the bride, he can wear ceremonial attire, such as a kilt or military dress uniform, if entitled. And sunglasses only if he's Jack Nicholson.

Job Fair

Everyone knows Dad gives away the bride. But that's not his only duty. In addition, he can:

  • Pick up the wedding tab, either in whole or part. These days, it's pretty common for the bills to be divided among several parties—your parents, the groom's mother and father, and the two of you.
  • Act as transportation coordinator and greeter for arriving out-of-town guests.
  • Accompany you in the limo to the ceremony.
  • Be the wedding's official host, mingling with guests, along with your mom.
  • Cut the rug during the father-daughter dance.

Clink, Clink

If Dad is making a toast at the reception, he should do so after the best man's opening remarks. He can thank everyone for coming, share an anecdote or two about you, welcome the groom into the family, impart a few words of wisdom, and bestow good wishes on you and your husband. He can quote a favorite poet, a songwriter, or the bride's grandmother if she's known for her clever bons mots. The best toasts are sincere, lighthearted, and short—three minutes is plenty. Here's an example:

"Judith and I are delighted that you could all be here today. I have spent time these last few months going through old photo albums, watching Cheryl grow from happy baby to little girl to talented teen to wonderful young lady. One of my favorite snapshots is of Cheryl running down the beach, laughing, full of energy. And that's how I see her today—running toward this new adventure with Jason, filled with pure joy. Here's to your joy and ours, from this day forward."

Line of Duty: Where does my father stand in the receiving line?

If he's following tradition, he doesn't actually stand in the receiving line. (This also applies to the groom's dad.) Instead, he circulates among the guests while the line assembles in this order: your mom, you, the groom, and the groom's mom. If you're not standing on ceremony, your father can take a place in the line next to your mom—but to guarantee a brisk pace, make sure all participants keep their remarks short.

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