Article written by Pam Black of Celebration House, Cape Town’s unique wedding information centre. First published in Die Burger Leefstyle newspaper.
The mothers and fathers of the bride and groom play an important role on the wedding day and I thought I would share with you some interesting questions I have received from parents:
Q. I am the father of the groom and would like to know what my financial responsibilities are for my son’s wedding. I read in a book that the bride’s parents pay for the food and drinks at a wedding. Is this correct? I always thought that the groom’s parents paid for the drinks.
A. You are perfectly correct. In South Africa it is the responsibility of the bridegroom’s parents to pay for all the drinks at the wedding reception, as well as related expenses such as the hiring of barmen, hiring of glasses etc. (I think the information in the book you were reading must have been applicable to weddings in the USA.)
It is also the responsibility of the groom and his family to pay for the following:
- ceremony expenses (Marriage Officer’s fee, organist, choir etc.);
- bride’s and bridesmaids’ bouquets, as well as buttonholes and corsages for the wedding party;
- hire of clothes for the groom and his attendants;
- gifts for the bride and groom’s attendants;
- transport for the bride to church and reception;
- legal expenses (antenuptial contract etc.);
- accommodation on the wedding night and for the honeymoon.
Q. I read somewhere that it was traditional to have a father-and-daughter dance at the wedding. As I have never heard of this before, could you please tell me more about this tradition and what is expected of the bride’s father?
A. This is an American tradition and one that is not really practised in this country. In the USA, after the bride and groom have had their first dance, the father dances with his daughter to a specially chosen tune.
Q. I know I have to walk my daughter down the aisle, but can you please tell me which side she should be on – left or right – as there appear to be conflicting opinions on this subject.
A. Traditionally, the bride walks down the aisle on her father’s right-hand side. The father can then easily hand her over to the groom, at which point she links her right arm through the groom’s left arm. According to tradition, the reason for this was to ensure that the groom then had his right hand free in case he needed to reach his sword, if for any reason he had to defend his bride. (Not sure what would happen if your husband-to-be is a left-hander!)
Q. My husband passed away a few years ago and my son would like his father to be remembered at his wedding. Have you any ideas as to how this can be done?
A. Your son could have his father remembered at the ceremony by lighting a candle in his memory. He could ask the Marriage Officer conducting the service to explain to the guests that this is being done in honour of his departed father, whom the couple would like to be remembered on this special day. In addition, his father could be mentioned in the Order of Service, as well as in the groom’s speech at the reception, but it is not necessary to have a specific toast to his dad.
Q. Please could you suggest a suitable colour for me (as mother of the bride) to wear to my daughter’s wedding. The bridesmaids will be wearing burnt orange.
A. Do you know what colour the mother of the groom is wearing? Ideally, as your outfit should also tone in with hers, it may be wise to discuss this with her (and the bride) before making any final choices. Bear in mind that it is inappropriate for either of you to wear a white or cream outfit, or to upstage the bride in any way. To tone in with the bridesmaids you could consider something burnished, like a midnight blue or even a deep red, but the best way to choose your outfit would be to obtain a piece of the fabric being used for the bridesmaid’s outfits, as this will help you to find something suitable that tones in with the overall colour scheme.
Q. Is it necessary for the father of the groom to make a speech at his son’s wedding?
A: Generally speaking, it is not necessary for him to do so. However, if he is really keen, there is no reason why he shouldn’t be given the chance.
Q. My son has converted to Islam and is marrying a Muslim girl. Is his Muslim marriage regarded as legal in South Africa?
A. Although Muslim marriages in South Africa are solemnized according to Muslim Rites, they are not automatically considered to be civil marriages in South African law (but this does not mean that they are illegal). However, this law is currently under review.