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,



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