Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fathers of the Groom - Unite!

This column originally appeared in the Norton Mirror in September 2003. When you read it, keep in mind one of my sons is now married, and the other...well, his doomsday clock is ticking! :)

When you are a parent, there are many opportunities to bask in your pride in the children you have raised. Of all those opportunities, perhaps none are more emotional and meaningful than when your child is married, and enters into that wonderful world of wedded bliss.

That is the time parents are officially recognized for their hard work in raising the child they are giving away. The father of the bride walks his daughter down the aisle, and has that special dance with his little girl. The mother of the bride is escorted to her seat of honor with all eyes upon her. The mother of the groom is also escorted, and has that emotional dance with her grown son. Yes, each parent has their well-deserved very special moment.

Except for the totally neglected and disregarded parent when it comes to most weddings – the ignored and seemingly forgotten father of the groom.

As you may have guessed by now, I am the father of sons. While none of them have yet gotten married (or even vaguely considered such a thing), I must admit it is one of the events I look forward to someday. Or at least I did, until I began contemplating a very sobering fact.

As father of a groom, I will have virtually no official place or chores in the average wedding. No real duties in the ceremony, no traditional dance at the reception, no shining moment of glory on that special day. While all the other parents have a clearly defined role and a starring moment, the father of the groom is relegated to a mere supporting role.

In fact, he is the appendix of the wedding party. He really doesn’t serve a purpose, and he can be removed with virtually no harm to the wedding itself.

The bridesmaids and ushers walk down the aisle. The maid/matron of honor stands next to the bride. The best man gives the ceremonial toast. They all are vital parts of this meaningful and special day.

The father of the groom does nothing. He wears a tuxedo for no apparent purpose. He is often mistaken for the caterer or the head waiter. He directs people to the restrooms and kindly declines to take drink orders.

Oh sure, he gets to walk down the aisle at the beginning of the ceremony. But he trails the mother of the groom, who is escorted ceremoniously by an usher. He isn’t even considered good enough to escort his own wife to her seat of honor. His only job is not to trip or step on her dress from behind.

I’m sure that in some ceremonies the father of the groom is tossed a bone. Maybe he gets to welcome people to the reception. Maybe he lights a candle on the altar. Maybe he gets to park cars at the reception.

But generally, he is ignored. He sits back and lets the other parents bask in the spotlight and the glow of this once (we hope) in a lifetime experience. He is shunned, the ultimate redheaded stepchild.

Oh I know this day won’t be about parents and glory and spotlights. The day will belong to the happy couple. It is all about them, their love, and their new commitment and life with each other. The day is all theirs.

That would be the noble stance. It is very easy for the other three parents, all of whom have their traditional moments-in-the-sun, to agree with that crap. After all, no one asked them if they were friends of the bride or groom, or slipped them a few bucks and told them to be careful with the new car.

If any of you faithful readers out there have suggestions to right this wrong and restore the father of the groom to his rightful place in the marriage ceremony hierarchy, please let me know. I’d be very grateful.

And take your time. Fortunately, my sons are in no hurry.

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