Category Archives: Weddings

Father of the Bride

I just want my baby girl to be happy!

When I opened my monthly Book Club mailing in March, right on cue, the Classic-of-the-Month, Edward Streeter’s Father of the Bride (1949), was front and center. Some may recall that the book was quickly made into a movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and Spencer Tracy, then remade in 1991 with Steve Martin and Diane Keaton as the parents of the bride and Martin Short as the irrepressible wedding planner, Franck Egglehoffer. In either case, Stanley (“George” in the remake) Banks, father of the bride, lived out a personal drama for the ages. While his initial concerns were more about the eventual marriage, his thoughts quickly turned to the wedding itself, as evidenced in this brief excerpt:

“As his mind focused on the actual ceremony he began to have secret qualms about it. Weddings had never meant much to him one way or the other. They were pleasant parties where he was apt to run into a lot of people whom he had not seen lately. Now, when he considered his role as father of the bride, it became alarmingly apparent that he was slated to play a lead part in what looked more and more to him like a public spectacle.

When it came to discussing the date, therefore, he was like a man who has rashly committed himself to go swimming in a glacial stream. His idea was either to get the affair over with as quickly as possible or else postpone it to a point so far distant in time that, like death, he wouldn’t have to worry about it for the present at least.”

For the man who may find himself in this most distinguished of roles one day soon, I can offer little advice from personal experience other than what I have observed from others. However, I do have friends in high places who have generously offered their hard fought wisdom.

Dave B. from Northern CA, who watched his first born son get married just a few years ago, and is anticipating his daughter’s wedding this summer, said that, “The biggest difference between his son’s wedding and preparing to be father of the bride is the drama. With the son, the only thing you have to worry about is a nice rehearsal dinner. With the daughter, there is drama. How many guests? What type of invitation? Mass or no mass? Obviously budget is an issue, but after a while that becomes irrelevant because you just want your baby girl to be happy”. Dave went on to say, “I think the younger they are, the more the parents have input into the outcome. In our case, our daughter is old enough that she is much more in control of how she wants things to go. Plus she’s a control freak like me! The thought that her Mother and I have that keeps us going is ‘Have fun with it.’ If you do that, even the drama is O.K.”

Mike B. has “given away” both of his daughters in the last 2 years. He said, “Each had their own wedding setting and vision for how it was to look. One was on a beach, the other in a field. In both cases, my experience was: it was best to follow the request and direction of the Bride. Speaking to his Tom James tailor, he said, “Your tailoring would be a good way to go to make what is needed in the colors desired by the bride to be.” Thanks for that plug, Mike. You are so right about that. Our ability to do custom is a clear advantage.

Another recent father of the bride, Armand, said “We stayed away from the traditional tux with bowtie etc. The look was more understated but sophisticated with a black suit, white shirt, gold tie and vest. It complemented the bride’s gown and that was the deciding factor. It was her day and we didn’t want to distract from her and her dress.”

Mickey B. said that his daughter’s wedding, including all of the planning, was mostly great fun because of the people involved and because they threw a really great party. He added, “There was always the feeling that I would wear a tuxedo, because it doesn’t get much more special than my daughter’s wedding. As it turned out, the groom wore charcoal gray and the groomsmen wore black tuxedos, so my tuxedo fit in perfectly. But, for the record, I was going to wear it no matter what, out of love and respect.”

Tom James client Brian McCarthy shows his bride, Lexie, the label inside his wedding tuxedo. Instead of the usual label with his name, (per the suggestion of his San Francisco clothier, Whit Behrens), the label reads “Forever Yours Lexie” and included their wedding date. The groom reports his father-in-law (featured in the background) was moved to tears.

For more custom labels visit Say LUXE to the TUX!

Hearing from these experienced FOTB’s, it appears that the hard part is over. It’s time to write the check. Make your little girl happy by helping her have her day, and enjoy the party. Oh, and when it comes to what to wear: make her proud, show respect, and let the Bride (and Groom) have their day in the spotlight. When in doubt, choose classic and timeless. Your Tom James clothier can give you direction. If there is to be any drama, may the FOTB be not the cause. Rather, see that he is the one to keep it all in perspective and running like clockwork.

I raise my glass to you, Dad! She couldn’t do it (have done it) without you!

Sartorial Regards,

Tom@tomjames.com

 

No One Told Me

Insights and Advice from Recent Grooms on What they don’t prep you for

We’ve all heard it said, “Hindsight is twenty twenty.” One way to get that advantage is to ride the coattails of someone else who has “already been there.” If your wedding is still in the future, perhaps the very near future, then here is your chance to do just that. Before things get too crazy and your ability to listen is greatly diminished by the emotions and activities of the wedding festivities, here is some ‘sage’ advice from the experiences of a few recent grooms.

Adam M. from San Francisco provides these priceless nuggets:

“Nobody told me that a sudden rainstorm right before the outdoor ceremony was entirely the groom’s fault… as if, somehow, I controlled the weather.”
“Nobody told me to double-check the length of my collar stays before packing my wedding suit, so they wouldn’t stick into my neck throughout the ceremony.”
“Nobody told me a couple glasses of champagne before the ceremony is a perfectly acceptable way to steady the nerves. Thankfully I figured it out on my own.”
“Nobody told me my father, who officiated the wedding and agreed to wear a tie for the occasion, would show up in a bolo tie.”

So the acorn doesn’t always fall that close to the tree?

“Nobody told me a dozen white doves would be released right after kissing the bride, so every photo of the moment shows me cowering behind my wife.”

I knew ahead of time about the doves at my shindig. They were awesome! Great for outdoor weddings. Maybe not so much in a church or chapel. At least have someone open the doors and windows.

Or how about this one courtesy of Brad from Chicago:

“No one ever tells you that “hey, one of the happiest days of your life can also be one of the most stressful”. Looking back, I would have done more to keep situations “light” rather than getting upset trying to figure out who this woman was and where did the girl go that I am supposed to marry.”

Robert C. gave us this great tip:

I think the thing they don’t prep you for is how much you will be the center of attention. This puts pressure on you to be pretty perfect in all you do. One way I combated any anxiety from that is to focus my attention on how I can serve others and make sure they feel like the special ones. I made sure everyone felt appreciated for what they were doing for us as groomsmen, parents, priests and ushers. By helping them I helped myself.

And while we’re on this topic, here are two simple lists to pay close attention to:

What you Shouldn’t Care about

(at least not to the point of losing sleep, etc.)

  • Her dress
  • Any of the other dresses
  • The flowers
  • Wedding colors (unless she wants to pick the colors of your favorite team’s arch nemesis)
  • …I’m sure there are a few other things. Ask around and make your own list.

What you Should Care About

  • What you will be wearing
  • Your Vows
  • Who you choose for Best Man
  • The Guest List
  • The Food and Beverages….especially the beverages
  • The Honeymoon and what you will be wearing

Already experiencing marital bliss? Do you have a tip you’d like to share, so a future groom doesn’t have to say “no one told me…”?

Also, check out more photos and dialog on our Facebook Timeline.

Sartorial Regards,

Tom@tomjames.com

Your Day, Your Way (Part Two)

Styling Thoughts for the Groom and his Groomsmen

Your groomsmen are your supporting cast. At least those fine gentlemen are the part of the cast of characters who stand on the groom’s side of the altar during the wedding drama. Though according to most historical accounts, it hasn’t always been that way. Originally, from an Anglo-Saxon tradition, the primary role of the groomsmen (then referred to as the bride’s knights) was to protect the bride and her dowry, making certain that she arrived safely to the wedding ceremony and any event related to the wedding. In cases where the bride’s family was opposed to the wedding, the groomsmen would serve as a line of defense to keep the family at bay while the bride and groom made their getaway. Now that could be some pretty good fun! Anyway, most people in that situation today simply choose to elope. Not as much fun, but just try to stop them!

As your supporting cast, the groomsmen should look like they belong with the groom, but none of them should run the risk of being mistaken for the groom. If you will be wearing a tuxedo, then they should too. You know that I always say “Luxe to the Tux,” but there are other options. If you’re in a suit, then they should be in suits too. Should you choose to be fully dressed in morning coat or tailcoat, you probably won’t ask your wedding party to follow suit unless you are commonly referred to as Your Royal Highness or that sort of thing. In that case, your groomsmen should, at a minimum, wear tuxedos. Typically the groomsmen are differentiated from the groom in the finer details such as a vest or tie or both. Other details to consider as a means of coordinating and providing both color and continuity are pocket squares, boutonnieres, or socks. On suits or more casual outfits, matching belts could come into play.

Recently hitched in the City by the Bay, J.T from San Francisco said,

“Probably the most important thing I learned was matching everyone’s clothing–whether it was suits or ties (making sure both suit and tie coloring matches with the wedding colors) the importance of continuity with your groomsman’s clothing is huge. My Bride and I were thinking of having every groomsman wear their own suit but in the end we realized that continuity is key!”

So, choosing ties for the groomsmen’s that coordinate with the color of the bridesmaid’s dresses could be a way to go. Your Tom James clothier has amazing resources to do whatever amount you may need of ties, bow ties, vests, or pocket squares.

With his wedding only a few weeks away, the topic of what everyone will be wearing has been fresh on his mind of Kevin M., from Austin, TX. Kevin says,

“The wedding will be in the Spring and held outside in the bride’s parents back garden. Since it will be before 6:00pm, I will not be wearing a tuxedo and since it will be a bit on the casual side neither will I be wearing a morning suit. I have decided to wear a dark blue suit with a contrasting buff/tan double breasted, straight bottom vest, a white shirt and a blue tie. I am going for a look that does not look like I just came from the office, but that I am getting married. The bridesmaids will be wearing lighter earth tones with some tan and some gold. For the groomsmen we have chosen solid navy blue, single breasted suits, white shirts and gold woven textured solid ties. We want the groomsmen to be dressed very similar to help provide continuity.

All of the groomsmen and I will also be wearing the traditional boutonniere on the lapel of our coats. My best man’s suit will be a slightly lighter shade and along with his name inside the suit he will have a label inside that says “Best man”. Inside my suit I will have my name on one side and on the other side the label will read “Kevin & Erin 4-13-2012”

I’m convinced! There is virtue in continuity when it comes to planning a wedding party. I like Kevin’s comment about making sure that he looks like he’s getting married (aka doing something extraordinarily special). He also told me that “when it comes to groomsmen, they should be dressed just a notch less formal than the groom.” Sounds to me like he has that well figured.

So you’re a groomsman?
Here are a few basics to keep in mind to:

  • Make sure ahead of time that your outfit fits. Ahead of time….meaning not just before show time…just in case it the pant length needs a final adjustment. People will be watching, pictures will be taken.
  • Show up on time.
  • Plan to attend all of the pre and post wedding events (Engagement party, rehearsal dinner, and of course the reception.)
  • Be a great wingman to the Best Man.
  • Be prepared to work as an usher and to be generally helpful. The groom will have enough on his mind without having to worry about a wayward groomsman.

For you who have been there, done that, what additional advice would you offer for turning out a supporting cast who will do the groom (and bride) proud?

 

Sartorial Regards,

Tom@tomjames.com

 

Your Day, Your Way

Styling Thoughts for the Groom and his Groomsmen

Dear Groom:

In case you have yet to be properly informed, your wedding day is “her” day, and you are there to complete the picture.

Congratulations and Sincerest Best Wishes,

All other Grooms who have gone before you

Well, ok, I may have slightly overstated my case, but you get the point. Sinatra made a big hit out of “My Way”, but when you are deciding what you will wear for the big day, a fundamental starting point is: what will she be wearing?

The bride-to-be may have been planning for her wedding day since she was six years old and have everything completely figured out, or she may still be working it out in her head and heart. In either case, with regard to what you will be wearing, find a way to:

  • Appropriately honor the occasion
  • Fit in with the chosen venue
  • Remain true to yourselves
  • Look like you belong together

Your first inclination may be to keep it simple and just rent tuxedos for you and your groomsmen, but may I say, “Not so fast.” That may be the best route to take in some cases, but having a special suit or tuxedo is an increasingly popular choice.

Note: Considering what most brides spend on their wedding dress ($3 – 5K and beyond is not unusual….and never to be worn again in most cases), if you invest even twice as much on your wedding suit as you would typically spend on a suit, you are in good company. And unlike that beautiful dress, you will get to enjoy your suit or tuxedo many, many times after the wedding day.

As the groom, what to wear for your wedding can run the gamut from a full-blown Morning Suit (think Prince William) to a Seersucker Jacket and white cotton or linen pant. One of those would be more appropriate in a Gothic Cathedral and the other on a sandy white beach. I’ll let you decide which is which. The point is: you have options. Your wedding day will be a one-of-a-kind, personally momentous occasion, deserving of an effort that expresses the unique and special qualities of who you are as a couple. So let’s talk about Your Day. Or more precisely, “Your Day, Your Way.”

Even if you decide on the clothes first, and then find a place that perfectly surrounds the stunning couple that you are, let’s begin by asking:

  • Will the ceremony take place in a large church, a small chapel, the backyard of someone’s home, on a coastal bluff or on the beach below or in one of a thousand other possibilities?
  • With the venue decided, are the two of you more formal or casual, sophisticated or bohemian, traditional or artsy, etc., etc.?
  • How would you describe your style as a couple and the style of the day you want to create?

Pearl of Wisdom: Whether you are entering into this union with much in common or from vastly different worlds, some compromises or give-and-take is inevitable. As obvious as that probably sounds, it’s sometimes easier said than done.

Special Touch: When working with your Tom James clothier, you may want to do something like Rudy did to surprise his bride Chloe, and put a special label inside your jacket. Any text that fits on the label and is in good taste is fair game. Your names and the wedding date would be another option. Be creative with one more small way to make it “Your Day, Your Way.”

I doubt that this answers all of your questions, but it should get you moving down the right path. Stay close for additional thoughts on styling your groomsmen and some gift ideas for those same gentleman, what to wear when you’re the guest, and things that no one ever tells the groom from the mouths of recent grooms.

If you’ve already tied-the-knot, what’s one bit of advice that you would like to share with future grooms?
Sartorial (and Nuptial) Regards,

Tom@tomjames.com