Been there, done that: Brides' parents offer tips

In Father of the Bride, Steve Martin suffered nearly every possible pre-wedding pitfall, proving it's not just the bride and groom who get the jitters. Handling irate in-laws, soothing their children's frazzled nerves, and maintaining composure while hemorrhaging hard-earned money are just a few new skills parents of the bride are sure to gain during this exciting but nerve-racking time...


Peggy Bender

Meghan and Mike Parsons

Keswick Hall

June 19, 2004

Both my daughters married this past year, and I can honestly say I did enjoy every minute and would not change one thing about either wedding.

The biggest challenge for me was to make each wedding just what each one of the girls wanted, different in as many ways as possible. There is always competition between twins, and my number-one goal was for there to be none during this period. The hardest part, with only seven weeks between the two weddings, was keeping everything straight.

My advice is to start early and pick a great team for you and your daughter to work with. Stay very organized and– most important– enjoy every minute.

Remember, this is about what the bride and groom want for their special day. It was my job to help them have what they wanted.


Bob Niemack

Elisa Niemack and Tommy Torrisi

August, 28 2004

Ash Lawn Highland

I have two daughters, and both of them got married this year! So, as the father of the bride times two, I was doubly blessed... but also doubly challenged.

One challenge was to stay involved in the planning without being dominating or robbing my daughters of the opportunity to have the weddings they wanted. The other double challenge for me as a divorced father of the brides was negotiating as part of two sets of parents who needed to be part of the decision making... starting with money.

The most difficult decision was probably how much to spend. We compared our bank accounts with the alleged going rates for weddings, went into sticker shock, and then decided to set a firm budget.

Both parents-of-the-bride couples agreed to contribute the same amount, and, a few months before each wedding, we gave the cash to the brides-to-be. They and their fianc├ęs decided how to spend it, and if they went over (and they did!), they got to cover it.

Frankly, everything else was a dream– for me, anyway. Our daughters still had the demanding task of deciding who to invite, how to choose a photographer, how to decorate, what to eat, and how to afford all the guests. That's a stressful task, and thankfully they were up it.

In the end, all we had to negotiate was the guest list. When I wanted to add people to the guest list for one of the weddings and found that the only way to do that was to pony up some more cash, that was fine. Since we'd fixed the budget, adding to it felt like a willing contribution rather than something I was being held up for.

Both weddings were joyous celebrations, and I'd do it again (my son is getting married in a year). And both were beautifully photographed, so the happy memories of that day are right there on the coffee table!


Nancy Shrier

Lee and Steve Yonish

Keswick Hall

April 17, 2004

First, take notes when you meet with the various services or people as there's so much to remember. Keep a file. Second, always be gracious. And finally, remember to choose your battles.

This truly joyous celebration can throw you into a tizzy. No matter how wonderful, there can be stressful moments. There's much to consider and, of course, new people to work with who will soon be your family.

When you have all the plans in place, if you can afford to hire a wedding planner for the "day of," it's a wonderful way for you to relax with your guests and enjoy all your hard work while someone else carries out your wishes. Congratulations!


Andrea Vest

Xannie and Owen Morris

June 5, 2005

Ceremony at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, reception at Farmington Country Club

I think all weddings must have a certain amount of family tension, and I would advise remembering that the marriage is the most important thing. Stay focused on that. Don't let anyone try to upset this awesome event!

Also, remember not to worry about tablecloths and other assorted details. The marriage ceremony is the event, and the reception is the celebration. I think daughters' weddings are the best, and if anyone ever needs me I could do more!


Jeanette Lancaster

Jennifer Lancaster and Chuck McMullen

Oct 30, 2004

Ceremony at UVA Chapel, reception at Alumni Hall

As parents of a recent bride I would like to offer this advice: Begin your planning early and start by identifying what is important to the bride and groom. Their preferences, values and desires should guide the wedding planning process. Choose people to provide the wedding services whom you like and with whom you have good communication and respect. Make a list of what you need to organize, evaluate your choices and then choose the sites, photographer, flowers, food,cake and so forth. Bear in mind that no event is perfect and something will go awry, but commit to being flexible and "rolling with the punches". Make these events some of the happiest of your lives and cherish the memories.