5 Wedding Reception Planning Tips for the Father of the Bride

Bride and groom at table with parents, smiling
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Following the wedding, or in some cases in current wedding practice, the evening before the wedding, you as the father of the bride will host the wedding reception. This is an opportunity for friends and family to call on the bride and groom and their families to offer congratulations and best wishes. The reception is also an opportunity to offer gifts to the new couple as they begin a new life and a new household together.

Reception planning can be a significant challenge for a bride and her parents. Sometimes the biggest conflicts arise around decorations, table settings, and planning for the events at the reception like cutting the cake and dancing. Dads are often the "voices of reason" when conflicts arise, and it is important for the father of the bride to help find ways to compromise and get to consensus. 

Remember That the Reception Is Yours

Some believe that the wedding belongs to the couple, but the reception belonged to their parents. After all, most of the people who come to a wedding reception are friends of the parents of the bride and groom. Help your daughter understand that so that you, your daughter and her mother will have a better wedding reception experience.

Relax and Enjoy

Usually, the mother of the bride has been very involved in the planning of the wedding reception and she tends to be a little stressed about every detail. Be sympathetic, but enjoy the reception. Delegate as many details of the reception as you can to supportive friends and family or your wedding planner. A little delegation can free you up to enjoy the experience and have a memorable evening with your daughter and your family. If you are relaxed, you can visit with friends as they attend, and you may well meet many new people who are friends of the groom and his family.

Stay Sober

If you are serving alcohol at the reception, you need to refrain or at least drink very moderately. With the potential for emotions running high—both positive and negative—drinking for the father of the bride can be a really bad idea. You are the host of the wedding reception and your behavior should always be acceptable, regardless.

Stay Positive About the Wedding

Regardless of how you felt about your daughter getting married or about her new husband, the fact is that she is married. The reception is not the time to complain about the wedding, the cost, or the details. It is also not a time to joke about the bride and/or groom or to express doubts about the marriage. Stay positive, complimentary and upbeat.  

Make the Dance Positive But Memorable

One very popular tradition at weddings is for the bride and groom, and then the bride and her father to dance. If you can dance well, then this is not a problem. But if you are not used to social dancing, this can be a pretty awkward moment. So take some time ahead of time to practice a few easy dance steps. Work with your DJ or orchestra to keep each dance for a couple of minutes—a six-minute dance to "Butterfly Kisses" will be uncomfortable for your daughter and you and your guests. And make sure your photographer gets some shots from this event.

The Aftermath

Once the wedding and all the festivities are over and your daughter and new son-in-law have gone off to start a new life together, the reality of it all sets in. A father of the bride's next challenge is to work to become a great father-in-law to his daughter's new husband and to adapt to his new role in his daughter's life.

But a wedding can be a great and memorable experience for a father if he finds his way through a challenging time and makes the wedding process and outcome a positive.