The “real-world” father of the bride

Remember the old Steve Martin movie, Father of the Bride? Funny stuff, eh? Are you planning a wedding? Are you wondering if the “putting on a wedding” syndrome is anything like that movie, or perhaps the movie just reflected typical Hollywood hilarity and overstatement. That flick was great fun with all it’s amusing characters and situations, but you wonder if the “real” world of wedding planning is quite so outrageous, complicated, frustrating, zany, costly, frantic and over-budget.
Lots to think about
When you sit down and start listing all the elements of a wedding, it makes you appreciate the concept of “eloping.” That would make the whole thing pretty simple and straightforward, wouldn’t it? But  if eloping is not in the plans, the following elements will be:
• Ceremony location — Will that be church or no church? Nowadays, the location possibilities are endless, ranging from the traditional church all the way through assorted garden weddings and on to less conventional approaches such as skydiving  and scuba weddings.
Our son commented that when he gets married, he foresees, “A ceremony at the end of the Victoria Beach Pier, after which the bride and groom will romantically leap into the lake, followed immediately by all the guests!” 
I joked that at least we’d all save money on dressy clothes since we’d all be in bathing suits. But he said, no, he wanted everyone in formal attire. Right. Great. Looking forward to it.
• Reception location — Again, it’s a new age and the reception can be anywhere. Probably, you’ll pick a conventional location. Have about 50 places give you their brochures and price lists, and then have a great time perusing, assessing and applying for your bank loan! 
If you don't know anything about the “variables in dinner entrees,” you soon will.  
• Liquor — Will that be a host bar, cash bar or corkage bar? Or how about a non-drinking reception? There’s an idea that almost no one will like. Whatever bar arrangement you choose, there will be countless people who will be more than  happy to advise you on the many and varied nuances of the adequately stocked bar.  
• Wedding photography — When you find out what this little element of the day is going to cost, you’ll become firmly convinced that you picked the wrong career! This is where the money is!
Now, of course, I know that the wedding pictures are important and a wonderful keepsake, but I remember all I could think about, as we explored the considerable cost of the treasured “Bride's Book,” was: How often  do we ever sit down and  look through our  wedding album? How about you?
A topical addition to the photography decision is whether to have a wedding  video. It’s a very current, vivid, exciting and expensive idea. Unless you have a good-sport friend or relative who will volunteer to commit the day’s events to video for you.
Whatever you decide — and regardless of how painful it is to your wallet — just remember that it’s a once in a lifetime event, so just write a cheque and move on to the next decision.
• Father-of-the-bride garb — Will that be a tux, a suit or your jeans?  Of course, you can rent a tux, but if you think you might make use of one in the future, maybe you’re better off  to actually buy one. On the other hand, it’s far more likely that you’ll be needing a suit in the future, so that’s a big point in favour of that option. Plus, of course, there’s the overriding reality that no one will even notice what you’re wearing, anyway. So maybe you could  get by with jeans? No.   Forget it.
This clothing choice, whatever it turns out to be, will take the bride’s father about 10  minutes to make. This is the way it is with men. Need a tux, get a tux. Need a suit, get a suit. Done. This is why fathers have such a problem with the next category, which seems to take about 10 years to decide on.
• Wedding dress and bridesmaids’ dresses — See my wife for a full explanation of this aspect of weddings which continues to mystify me.
Why does this dress decision take so long? The search for just the right dress was underway for months and months. They must have seen about 32,000 dresses. They were even looking at dresses in other parts of the country and overseas. There aren’t enough dresses here? 
A man would have this decision made in an hour, but at the rate these ladies were going, I figured the bride and groom would be celebrating their first anniversary before the dresses were finally chosen.
But, again, the thing for the father of the bride to do is give up. Don’t make any comments about the disparity between the cost of the dresses and the number of times they’ll be worn. Forget about the price. Dresses are important. It’s a wedding. Here’s your cheque book.
•  Invitations, wedding cake, flowers, decorations, etc. — Again, see my wife for details.
Women will spend weeks mulling over the exact kind, colour, quantity, size and wrapping of those little thank-you gestures that are placed on all the tables for the guests. The father of the bride will chime in, “Well, how about a few mints?”  
The condescending and barely-tolerating glare he receives will cause him to shrink away in muddled mystification.  Probably best to leave these important matters to the ladies.
Needless to say, all of the above also apply to the wedding cake, invitations, and flowers.
Don’t get me started.
I remember that when my wife first mentioned decorations,  I recalled that in the Father of the Bride movie, there were swans. Swans? Yup. Very trendy, I guess.
I kept expecting the planning discussion to turn to these wonderful wedding-day creatures, so I started preparing my rejection speech on that subject. Fortunately, however, swans never reared their graceful necks.
May you be so lucky!