Father of the Bride

Illustration by Helen Clay

Congratulations! Your little princess is getting married! Somewhere between pigtails and daddy-daughter dances, some dapper-dandy-sigma-snothead has come along and stolen her heart. She said she was spending all that time in the library? In hindsight, perhaps her grades should have tipped you off. She made a “C” in equestrian arts? Had to have been a boy. Oh, you have met him, and he is nice enough. Good family. Looks like he’ll graduate close to on-time, and his uncle owns a factory. Yes, he’s even been over for Thanksgiving and down to the beach, but you never saw this coming. You vaguely remember “giving your blessing” for something, but it was 4:30 a.m. in a duck blind, and you thought you were just blessing a Bojangles’ biscuit –– not giving your daughter away. 

You and your financial advisor were just beginning to take full breaths of air because you had finally begun to see the end of the tunnel paying for stables fees, I mean… college. Well, buckle up, cupcake; you ain’t seen nothing yet!

The modern Southern wedding is a juggernaut of grace, charm, and tradition mixed with a big dose of guerilla warfare. No matter how early you start, you are already behind. The actual wedding date is determined by venue availability. Where the wedding takes place is everything and says oh so much about who you are and your standing in the community.

Let’s just say that you are lucky and loaded enough to get your first, second, or third choice of venue. This is your first peek behind the curtain. You are not in control. Your life is not your own. You have become the F.O.B.… the Father of the Bride. They call you the F.O.B. when they think you can’t hear them. They speak of you with distain and a mix of sympathy, in a third-person past-tense, like a corpse. Your wife and daughter are in on it. They have chosen sides, and it’s with the ladies who wield the power. The ones who will determine the success or failure of that magical day. You are there to write checks and walk her down the aisle –– that’s it. Butt out. Did they mention they can, in fact, get a corpse to do that if they need to? 

The New York Yankees are known to buy the best teams in baseball. Your Wedding Team roster has an event planner, caterer, rental shop, custom cake designer, florist, photographer, and videographer. The fact that the men reading this thought the photographer could also shoot the video and save a little money just shows how utterly out of touch they are. You silly F.O.B. We told you to go sit down. Then there are the bartenders, hair and make-up teams, band and DJ, and custom invitation specialists.

Each baseball team has a manager and each player an agent. Ditto your wedding team. The wedding director and every vendor are represented by a blonde 25-year-old triathlete who studied abroad and speaks three languages. President of the sorority and grooming for the Junior League, they are smarter than you, and you are just slowing them down. Try to keep up. Sit down, shut up, pay attention. Press hard — there are four copies.

Did you know that the invitation will make or break the wedding? No, it’s not just an invitation to a free party and open bar. It sets the tone for the marriage and who they will be as a couple. Their hopes, dreams, and aspirations. But it also says something about the environment and Earth Day and renewable energy and love growing. The new craze is seeds embedded in the invitation so you can, you know, bury the invite after the wedding and watch their love grow. Deposit required, non-refundable.

The caterer has a menu to choose from. You suggest the shrimp might go bad, sitting out for that period of time. They will all nod with approval like you have imparted some type of Biblical wisdom they have never heard of, but you will still have the shrimp.

There is an entire cottage industry of therapy counselors based on the guest list. The F.O.B.’s job is to keep it as small as possible because he only sees dollar signs. Everyone else, from your wife and daughter to the event team, is trying to get the number as high as possible. The F.O.B. will lose the battle and do irreparable harm to many relationships during this process. Triple any number you have in your head for the guest list, and that is your new starting point.

Just when you are getting numb to the money facet, you will meet the florist and the custom cake lady. Prepare to spend more money on mulch and sugar than you thought humanly possible. This phase will make that $500 NASA hammer or toilet seat seem reasonable. The specialty drinks just make sense after you have seen it their way. The band will need lights and a dance floor and a separate dinner from what you serve the guests (they know better than to eat the shrimp that’s been sitting out…).

In the end, it will be a spectacular day. The kind of which dreams are made. You actually will cry every time you watch the wedding video. Wife, daughter, and new family will love you forever and never ask another thing of you (until the babies come).

Rumor has it Apple is working on a new F.O.B. emoji. It is a man with x-ed out eyes and his pants pockets turned out empty.