The ceremony. On the day itself, your son's best man should be looking after him,
but you can do the same. At the ceremony the best man sits next to the groom, but
you should be on the same row, or the row behind. If he's nervous, reassure him.
The photographs. After the ceremony there will usually be a few formal photographs,
and you may be in quite a few of them, so don't disappear. Again you can help here
by shepherding your own family for any photos for which they are required – photographers
have a really tough job collecting people for these family shots.
The receiving line. At the reception, there may be a receiving line. The order
for this is usually mother of the bride, father of the bride, mother of the groom,
father of the groom, bride, groom. Do your bit to greet the guests, and make a special
effort to remember names of people you haven't met before.
Father of the Groom
At first glance it may appear that the father of the groom does not play a particularly
big role in the wedding ceremony, being overshadowed by the father of the bride.
Whilst the responsibilities of the father of the groom are not high profile, they
are very important.
Support your son. First and foremost, your job is to support your son. As you may
know from personal experience, getting married is a big step in any man's life, and
you should be a source of advice and help where needed. You can also help your son
with any nerves on the big day.
Foot the bill? Whilst it is traditionally the father of the bride's responsibility
to pay for his daughter's wedding, in modern times the arrangements can be more flexible.
You may be contributing to the cost of the wedding or even footing the whole bill.
In these circumstances you can expect to have some degree of input into the decision
making process, although you should try not to be seen as interfering.
Sort out your relatives. In terms of practical assistance before the day, you can
take the lead in shepherding your side of the family. When the couple announce their
wedding date, and you know who is to be invited, make sure all the guests in your
family knows the date as soon as possible.
Unbelievably, some people will always be slow to respond to a wedding invitation.
Are any of your relatives dragging their feet? If so, get on the phone to them
and give them a gentle chase.
Outfit. Before the day, the couple will probably indicate what they want you to
wear. Commonly the father of the bride and father of the groom wear the same outfits
as the groom, best man and ushers, to indicate their special status at the wedding.
Traditional wedding attire is morning dress – a long black morning coat and grey
thinly striped trousers.
Remember that receiving lines are very difficult to organise and you can’t allow
yourself to be drawn into long conversations. Try not to hold up the line, and if
your wife is next to you, try to keep an eye on her too!
The meal. During the meal, there is likely to be a top table. The conventional
seating order is, one one side, the groom, bride's mother, you and then the chief
bridesmaid on the end. On the other side, the bride, the bride's father, the groom's
mother and then the best man on the end. Therefore you'll be chatting to the bride's
mother and the chief bridesmaid.
Remember that seats generally run down only one side of the top table, so you can
only talk to the people to either side of you. Try to make sure than no-one is left
out of conversation (especially the chief bridesmaid on the end).
The speeches. After the meal, the speeches will take place. The traditional speeches
are the father of the bride, the groom, and then the best man. The father of the
groom is not supposed to make a speech – it's the best man's job to speak about your
son and to “introduce him” to the bride's family. However, fathers of the groom
do sometimes break with convention, particularly if they are paying for part of the
wedding and therefore effectively a “co-host”. If you want to do this it is a good
idea to check with you son and future daughter-in-law that they don't mind.
There is no rule about where you slot in the running order, but the best place is
probably after your son. The best man's speech is really the highlight, and you
don't want to come after and risk either upstaging him, or being seen a damp squib.
The first dance. If there's a disco, there will probably be a first dance. Check
with your son in advance, but many couples like to have the parents, best man and
bridesmaids come onto the floor a few minutes into the first dance, to detract attention
from them! If so, do your duty.
Be a low key host. On the day you should otherwise act as a low key host, not stealing
the limelight, but making sure that the guests are OK and having a good time. Try
to speak to as many people as you can. You should also be one of the last to leave,
making sure that everyone has got home safely. You can also help the ushers and
best man with any particular situations that crop up.