The Father of the Bride

Father of the Bride

The Father of the Bride on a wedding day

A wedding has a list of players, each having a particular role in the drama of the day. As a reportage wedding photographer, my job is to quietly observe the different characters and how they interact with each other. As a father myself, of two girls who are both at university, it is the father of the bride that I feel I can relate to the most now. I’ve been a groom, many years ago. The father of the bride role – maybe that’s next for me?

It’s a relatively quiet role – though maybe not on their bank balances. I also don’t think it’s always as played by the comedian, Steve Martin, in the 1991 film, “Father of the Bride” – but many fathers may relate to the bewildering planning stage and increasing costs? Trivia: the website, estimated the costs of featured weddings in movies. The wedding in ‘Father of the Bride‘ it estimated, would have cost almost $250,000 (over £200,000 today) – that’s $143,000 for the food and $68,000 for the bride’s wedding dress!

For the father of the bride, it’s not about big hats (usually) but about having a pivotal role at different points in the day. It often starts with the getting ready part of the day, at the parental home or a hotel suite. The father may be downstairs, watching the cricket on Sky, doing last-minute chores around the garden/marquee/house or hiding from the chaos, to quietly finish his speech.

So let’s break down the day, for those moments that feature the father of the bride in front of the camera. Not every wedding is the same, clearly, but there is often a basic timetable that fits most wedding days.

Getting ready

Mostly the father of the bride will appear once the bride is almost ready. Sometimes a formal ‘first look’, other times, when he pops his head around the door – ready to escort his daughter to the ceremony. Sometimes it’s about waiting around or a quiet moment between father and daughter, before the day kicks off. Sometimes it’s just about an emotional hug.

Father of the bride watches his daughter get ready
First look with his daughter the bride
Waiting for the bride to get ready
Father of the bride appears at the doorway at Millbridge Court
A reportage moment between a bride and her father
Father looks on as the bride gets ready

Escort to the wedding ceremony

Dress on and ready – time for the father of the bride to escort his daughter to the church/ceremony. Whether it is a calming chat in the wedding car. Holding hands in the back of the taxi. Or improvising to keep the rain off the bride, as she walks towards the church.

Father and bride walk down the aisle

Now it’s very public. That long walk down the aisle, holding onto your father’s arm. A quick joke, a look at each other, a word of reassurance, before stepping off. Scanning the faces, all turned to look at you. Returning the smiles. Squeezing your father’s arm. Looking at the end of the aisle, for the waiting groom. In some cases, the traditional handover.

Outdoor wedding at Iscoyd Park
Dewsall Court wedding ceremony
Bride and her father exchange looks before entering The Oxford chapel
Buxted Park outdoor wedding ceremony
Spotted the groom!
Father and daughter exchange looks
Father escorts the bride into Cissbury Barns wedding ceremony
Funny bride's father

Father of the bride’s wedding speech

Is this the big moment of the day? Perhaps the most pressure moment? Say something nice, funny too perhaps. Try not to get too emotional. Add some advice for the groom. (Remember to mention your wife !)

Ends with a hug.

Funny father of the bride speech
All Saints chapel wedding speech
Bride hugs her father after his speech at Kirtlington Park
Dewsall Court speech
RIBA wedding speeches
Father of the bride speech in a London pub
Father of the bride toast
A hug for her father after his speech

A dance

Sometimes formal, after the first dance. Often just happens. A dance between the bride and her father. To say thank you!

Bride and her father dance at The Elvetham hotel
Father of the bride smiles at his daughter on the dance floor
Bride dances with her father at the In and Out Club
London wedding dance

For much of the day, the Father of the Bride is there as an anchor. A steady arm to lean on. But in some cases, there is no father there to play this role. Often the tasks of escort and speechmaker, falls to the mother, a brother or a family friend. But the father is there in spirit still. In a locket picture attached to a bridal bouquet, or a picture set to overlook the ceremony.

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