The most beautiful bride in America this year said “I do” on May 29 to one of the best sons-in-law a father ever could have. With those words and a few more, my oldest daughter, Brianne, married Ryan, the man of her dreams, in a wedding that would have made Cinderella jealous.
The groom and the three women in my house — the mother of the bride, the sister of the bride, and the bride herself — pulled off a spectacular event that spanned three days and came after a year of wishing, work and worry. I, of course, supervised, which was not only exhausting but also taught me a lot of things I wish I had known going into this. As a service to you future Fathers Of The Bride, or FOTB, I share below what I have learned as rules for the FOTB, to wit:
Rule 1: The FOTB requires vigorous training in preparation for the wedding planning marathon. This starts at The Home Depot or Lowe’s. Troll longingly past the outdoor grill section and ask the paint expert to show you that there really are many shades of pink. Thus trained, you will not blunder by asking “Isn’t pink just pink?” after the women spent months looking for just the right shade of pink as a key wedding color. Next, visit the local craft store for fabric lessons, so when they all start talking about wedding fabrics you finally will realize that taffeta is not the name of a girl your wife’s brother dated in high school.
Then start watching episodes of “Say Yes To The Dress,” a TV show about young women shopping for the wedding dresses that cost more than the national debt of Greece. Your training is done when one of the following is true: you actually enjoy this show without being heavily medicated, can hear how much the wedding dresses on this show cost without aspirating your tongue, know what women are talking about when they discuss the a-line of a dress, or can name three wedding dress designers without confusing any of their names with a brand of cordless drill.
Rule 1, Subsection A: Do not, under any circumstances, flip channels to a sporting event during a commercial break in “Say Yes to the Dress.” Dads who do this get sent to FOTB hell, in which you are surrounded by hundreds of demons showing you page after page of wedding day hair fashions from Brides Magazine. If you get caught flipping, tell the female raptors closing in on you and the remote control that you were just taking advantage of the commercial to watch a few minutes of the show “Four Weddings” (a reality show in which four generally catty brides compete over who had the best wedding — it is the TV equivalent of Roller Derby meets Bride of Frankenstein).
Rule 2: Beware of what seems like a request for your opinion. Occasionally when they ask, it seems as though the planners really wanted your opinion, but that was until you made the mistake of actually saying what you thought, rather than simply confirming the wisdom of what they were already thinking when they asked you for your opinion. Got it?
Rule 3: Look at the bride, not at the bills. In fact, don’t look at the checkbook or the credit card report for about 12 months on either side of the wedding. If you consider violating this rule, walk outside on a subzero morning and freeze your tongue to the bumper of your neighbor’s car as he drives off for work. This will be less painful than asking how a few flowers just strewn around a church actually can cost that much. Just trust the women to spend responsibly, and try to remember that you are paying for one shot at the fulfillment of a dream, and the creation of memories of a lifetime.
Rule 4: When it’s all over, and the bride wraps her arms around you and says, “Thanks, Dad. This was the wedding I always dreamed of,” thank the women in the house and all of the others who helped make it happen.
Rule 5: Remember that moment forever.
Erik Steele, D.O., a physician in Bangor, is chief medical officer of Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems and is on the staff of several hospital emergency rooms in the region. He is also the interim CEO at Blue Hill Memorial Hospital.