What Those Wedding Terms Mean to You
If you find yourself in the midst of a wedding planning maelstrom, you might start hearing certain phrases being used over and over by your daughter and wife. This section will take you through some modern wedding terms so that you can react with your usual intelligence if and when you hear them (instead of giving the speaker a blank stare and a response that is apropos of absolutely nothing).
The term “destination wedding” refers to a wedding that takes place at a far-off location, usually at some sort of resort that specializes in these events, but a destination wedding can really be anywhere. The only limit is the earth's gravitational pull.
So your daughter wants this type of wedding — what does this mean to you? It means that the wedding will probably be smaller, for one thing, because the average guest won't be willing to take a whole lot of vacation time and pony up the big bucks to fly to Aruba to catch the sunset vows.
For another thing, it means that you'll probably be spending quite a bit of time (days) before the ceremony with the groom's family. If you're hearing this term being thrown around, prepare yourself for takeoff.
The way you see it, unless your daughter is getting married in the living room, every wedding is a destination wedding — you'll get in the limo and ride to the destination, right? Not quite.
The happy couple will be feted and feted (and feted) once their engagement is official. There will be parties specifically honoring the bride, parties specifically honoring the groom, and parties to recognize them as a twosome. Which party is which?
The Engagement Party
Engagement parties are usually the first events to pop up after an engagement has been announced. Gifts are not typically given at this party, it's just a chance to officially announce and celebrate the upcoming wedding.
When should an engagement party be held?
Somewhere between six and eight months prior to the wedding. You want to avoid hosting it too far in advance, and you don't want to try to fit it in too close to the ceremony, when other parties will fill the bride's and groom's calendars.
While tradition states that the bride's family has the option of hosting the first engagement party (yes, there can be more than one), this is not an obligation on your part, especially not in this day and age. Your daughter's friends may take over the hosting duties, or the groom's family might haul out their good china for this event — or the bride and groom might choose to honor themselves. If you are planning an engagement party, make your intentions known as early as possible to ward off parties in quadruplicate.
The Bridal Shower
The bride's shower takes place somewhere in the vicinity of one to three months before the wedding. She will be inundated with gifts (from her registry, which is covered in the next section) at this gathering. The bridesmaids are supposed to get together and host this event; if they're not completely on the ball, your wife or another relative may take over.
Bridal showers are usually just for the ladies (they will have a lovely lunch and play shower games); however, it's not unusual these days for the engaged couple to have a combined shower. It may sound silly, but if you think about it, some of the most expensive items for the home (power tools, electronics) are not things that women typically give to a bride.
So, if you're invited to a shower for the bride and the groom, stifle your objections, and grab him a nice mitering saw (or a cordless drill, or a ratchet set, or a satellite dish…).
The Rehearsal Dinner
You'll also be expected to attend the rehearsal, the big run-through of the ceremony, and the rehearsal dinner, which follows. Everyone who plays a part in the wedding needs to be at the rehearsal (yes, you know how to walk down the aisle — but do you know how slowly you need to walk? Do you know where to wait for your cue to begin that march?), and usually, all the players will sit down to a meal of some sort afterward.
Read more information on your expected behavior at all of these parties.
You know what goes on at bachelor parties. Booze, babes, and…well, booze and babes, mostly. Should you attend your future son-in-law's bachelor party? Ask yourself these questions, and then decide for yourself:
Do you like this guy a lot? If you saw him reeling from extreme drunkenness, would it destroy your image of him forever?
How tolerant are you of wild behavior? Many bachelor parties quickly escalate into gatherings that would make even a fairly liberal father of the bride blush.
Do you want to go? Maybe this is right up your alley, and you can't wait to get a little crazy with the groom and his friends and family. Have at it, Dad.
If you're really leery about attending the bachelor party, don't go. Your presence is not required there. Your relationship with the groom has been established by this point, and your attending (or not attending) this gathering isn't going to make or break your affinity for one another. See more information on making your decision, and what to expect if you do decide to go.
The rehearsal dinner is traditionally the domain of the groom's family…but with tradition having fallen by the wayside in recent years, you may be called into service to help with this event.
In truth, the registry will affect your life very little. You should know what the heck it is, though, just in case your sister or your aunt asks where your daughter has registered for her shower or wedding gifts.
Prior to her bridal shower, your daughter (and her fiancé) will choose several stores of their liking and will sign on to have their wish-list items made available to guests of the shower and wedding. How? Most larger stores will simply hand the bride and groom a handheld scanner; the scanner's little brain registers the barcodes of the couple's must-have items (pots and pans, linens, dishes, silverware, small appliances — the works), which will then be downloaded into the store's computer system.
Telling a potential gift giver, “Oh, they don't really need anything,” is just wrong — on so many levels. For starters, it's not true; and for another thing, registries, believe it or not, usually make things easier on gift givers, who won't need to conjure up their own ideas for the perfect present.
Depending on the store in question, it may also be possible for the bride and groom to register online, which gives them all the time in the world to pick and choose the right set of hand towels and washcloths. Smaller shops and boutiques may give the bride and groom a preprinted computer list of available items, which the bride and groom will physically check off or fill in (such hard work!), and a clerk will enter the list into the store's computer.
When the shower or wedding guests come into the store, they can access the registry at the store computer and purchase the housewares the soon-to-be-newlyweds have chosen. Meanwhile, the engaged couple crosses their collective fingers, hoping that they get the things they really want (the plasma TV), while simultaneously accepting the fact that they will probably get the things that they need (the blender).
This is how the newlyweds' home will be stocked with goodies, which is why it's important for you to be able to relay the pertinent info to inquiring relatives. Don't blow this one shot at unbridled avarice for the kids.