You've got great ideas about this wedding. You've got so many things to say, in fact, that you've started carrying around a mini tape recorder so that you can play your sound bytes at the dinner table. Why is it that no one seems to be listening? Could it be that the women just want you to show up where and when you're told to and to otherwise keep your mouth closed? Surely no other father of the bride has had to put up with such apathy from the masses.
Good Ideas versus Bad Ones
Unfortunately, even in this day and age, many issues are divided among gender lines, and many other issues become the basis for judging someone on his or her past performances. For example, if you've always pushed party planning off on your wife, you should expect nothing different from this particular time in life: She'll plan the big wedding with your daughter, and you can simply show up, just as you've done countless times before, to play the part of the host.
Likewise, if your ideas have always been dismissed by the family as being a little nutty or a tad bit over the top, you'll be hard pressed to change those opinions now, when the biggest day of your daughter's life hangs in the balance.
You shouldn't expect that you'll be given a second (or third, or thirtieth) opportunity to prove that you really do have good taste and great ideas if you've failed to prove this in the past — or, at the very least, you shouldn't expect that it will happen easily.
If you find that you are regularly being shut out of conversations that you want in on — especially if these conversations are fraught with potential problems, and you have the answers — your best bet is to proceed cautiously. Demanding that everyone acknowledge your genius right now is not the tack to take. Think of this as a little expedition; you're putting a little bait out there and slowly bringing the naysayers over to your side. Some tips:
Instead of talking until you're blue in the face, interject with just one or two very helpful (and well-thought-out) comments. This shows you're not trying to take over the conversation.
When someone else speaks, listen. There's no faster way to get a reputation for being a know-it-all than by dismissing the words coming out of someone's mouth before you've even heard them.
If someone else has a better solution to a problem, admit it. Don't hold hard and fast to your ideas simply because they're yours.
Avoid falling into old family roles. If you've always thought your daughter is a little flighty, don't assume that all of her ideas are going to be wacky. She may have changed; it's also possible that she was never as flighty as you thought she was.
Acknowledge that other family members, though they may be younger and less experienced in life than you, just might know a couple of things that you don't. Take the opportunity to work together, and some really fabulous solutions might pop up.
The bonus to working in this fashion is that it may just have lasting consequences on the family dynamic. You may even decide that you can all sit down and agree to disagree, without agreeing to also stop speaking to each other for a week.
Please Speak Up!
After the big day, she's going to be a wife, and sometime after that, she may become a mother — these are huge events that take you a little further out of her life's radius. Take advantage of the time the two of you have to spend together now.
And then there are the fathers who are so tight-lipped on everything that their families have to beg for mere morsels of food for thought. If your daughter is pleading with you to get involved and give some opinions on her wedding, for goodness sake, do it. It's not an unmanly thing to do, and this is one of the last big events of her life that will give you an opportunity to bond with her.
If she wants your opinion on the reception hall, take a drive over there with her and check it out. If she's looking for some help planning a menu and you're renowned for choosing just the right appetizers for your own parties, share your expertise with her. Sure, she's an adult, and yes, she might very well be able to take care of these things on her own — but if she's asking you for help, she's really asking for you.
Don't make her spell it out; get your rear in gear and throw yourself into it. When the big day comes and she leaves the reception hall on the arm of her new husband, you'll be glad that the two of you had this time together.