We are pleased to request the pleasure of your company The McLean Wedding Party, a new weekly column. Leading up to our September nuptials, we'll be talking about weddings, and all the people involved in the big day. No R.S.V.P necessary; just read and enjoy!
Here’s a caricature that might be familiar: the hapless father of the bride, resigned to his fate as silent underwriter of a wedding he thinks is far too extravagant, sees his money getting sucked into a tornado of lace and tulle. His opinions are vetoed more often than United Nations resolutions.
Steve Martin’s iconic Father of the Bride summed up this character for us. As stumbling, grumbling George Banks, he bah humbugs his way through a carnivalistic wedding planning process. He is continually bested by his wife and daughter, as well as the outrageously dandy and unintelligible wedding planner, Franck, played by the matchless Martin Short.
Eventually, George Banks relents to things like a twelve hundred dollar cake. And as if he hasn’t been denuded of all authority, he spends the majority of the wedding in the street, parking cars with his eleven-year-old son.
At the end of the movie, a phone call from his daughter as she’s on her way to her honeymoon comes to George Banks like a blessing, freeing him of the agonizing revelation that he just paid for a wedding he didn’t want or even enjoy.
Listen up, Dads, Hollywood seems to say. If your daughter wants swans and a sit down dinner for 250, just go with it. Ultimately her happiness is your own.
I love that movie. I adore Steve Martin and Martin Short. It makes me cry every time. However, it is not an ideal template for how a father should experience his daughter’s nuptials.
I don’t want my wedding to send my father into a tailspin of worry and sticker-shock. So how are we avoiding the all the typical father-of-the-bridezilla trappings?
The modern wedding timeline has ingrained opportunities for mother/daughter and girl/girlfriend time—please see my future columns on bachelorette parties and showers. Father/Daughter time? Not so much.
If George Banks is any indication, a father can barely complete a two-step with his little girl before the groom cuts in. I propose making new traditions with the old man, like taking a dance class. I’m looking forward to some exercise and quality time with my Dad. I inherited none of his rhythm, but no matter—I’m positive he will let me dance on his toes.
[Arthur Murray Tyson’s Corner/8603 Westwood Center Drive, Suite 205, Vienna/703-556-0088].
Looking Good/Feeling Good
If Dad’s cumerbund is too snug for his own good, or if he is convinced that ruffles on a shirt are still de rigueur, please direct him to Alton Lane. He will get a kick out of the high tech, Avatar-ish laser measuring devices the pros use to craft his own high-quality, bespoke suits. The reasonable prices will make him feel even more dapper.
[Alton Lane/1506 19th Street NW, Washington, D.C./646-896-1212].
Everyone Needs a Good Listening To
It wasn’t until we started talking to caterers that I discovered that my father hates beets. He absolutely despises them. He would rather eat mushy Brussels sprouts then taste a beet in a first course.
Case in point: even during the most stressful moments, planning a wedding creates the chance for fathers and daughters to become closer. Dads do not have to join the ranks of the countless George Banks’ who have come before them, pushed onto the crazy carousel of wedding planning, tossing out checks as he’s looping around, catching only the barest glimpses of those who are most dear to him.
Here’s a thought: next time I’m with my father we won’t talk weddings. We’ll just watch one.
Lauren Edmondson is a McLean native.