Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Under-Appreciated Father of the Groom

This column originally appeared in the Sun Chronicle on Saturday, May 8, 2010.

If you see me hanging around looking useless, you might assume that’s just the natural state for newspaper columnists. But no, I am merely readying myself for the final performance of a role I have played once thus far in my life.

My youngest son is getting married early next year to a wonderful young lady (I get in trouble when I call her “The Doctor”, but I’m very proud of her). So next March 12th I will don whatever finery I am instructed to wear, go where I am told, and pretty much stay out of the way. Such is life for the least important, nearly invisible participant in many weddings – the Father of the Groom (or FOG).

Each wedding participant usually has a clearly defined role. The Mother of the Bride is escorted down the aisle at the beginning of the ceremony. The Mother of the Groom gets to have that emotional dance with her son at the reception. And who among us has not shed a tear watching the Father of the Bride dance with his newly-wed daughter before the cheering crowd?

The Maid of Honor stands next to the bride as she is wed. The Best Man is entrusted with holding the wedding rings and gives the much-anticipated toast. The bridesmaids and groomsmen escort each other down the aisle to take their place of honor.

But the Father of the Groom does nothing. He stays in the background, guards his wife’s purse, and maybe occasionally gives guests directions to the restroom. If your attention is called to the FOG in a wedding, it is usually because something has gone horribly wrong.

In fact, he is not even considered capable of escorting his own wife down the aisle. Instead, he trails behind as though he came in late and has to catch up. His only responsibility is to remain upright and not step on his spouse’s dress from behind.

Since my son is marrying a doctor, let me put it in a medical perspective. The FOG is the appendix of the wedding party. Should he become inflamed he can be removed with virtually no damage to the wedding itself.

Sure, in some ceremonies the FOG is tossed a bone. Maybe he gets to light a candle before the service actually starts. Perhaps he can do a reading of some obscure scripture. Or in some cases, he might get to tell the caterer the final count of how many vegetarian dinners are actually necessary. But there seems to be no traditional role for this under-appreciated, under-utilized parental unit.

Of course, wedding days are not about other people. They are about the happy couple and giving them a day to remember as they start down the path to marital bliss. It is about their commitment and love, not about making sure their loved ones have played an important role in their day.

I don’t know who said that, but obviously it was not a Father of the Groom.

My oldest son was married just over four years ago, and his ceremony and celebration were amazing and wonderful. I played my role as FOG as well as could be expected. I wore the proper clothing, made the lonesome walk behind my wife as she was escorted to her seat by my other son, and made sure she did not trip coming off the altar when we jointly went up and lit a candle. Obviously, I could not be trusted alone with an open flame.

And it was one of the happiest days of my life, as March 12, 2011 will be also. I can’t wait to watch my youngest child exchange vows and officially join the ranks of the married. His spouse-to-be is specializing in geriatrics, and frankly I’m figuring the timing is just about right for me.

But as I sit watching it happen, I think I’ll keep an invitation in my pocket in case I have to prove I’m supposed to be there. Remember, it’s all about me.

If any of you faithful readers have suggestions for this anxious FOG, I’d be more than happy to listen. After all, what else do I have to do?

Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and a soon-to-be two-time FOG. You may send suggestions to him at

1 comment:

Ramblin T said...


Never have I heard about a wedding from a FOG's perspective!;)

As a young(ish) lady - hopefully one day wed, I will remember what you have said!

I will definitely try to make my future father-in-law feel very much appreciated!!!