Q. I am told by my officiant that it is appropriate and heartwarming when parents are a part of the wedding ceremony. I look forward to my father walking me down the aisle. We plan to have both sets of parents participate during the blessing of the bride and groom near the conclusion of the ceremony. All of this is traditional and fine with me and my groom. But, what do I do about another innovation? My father wants to sing “My Little Girl” smack in the middle of the ceremony. The problem is that he has a terrible singing voice! It has a disturbingly grating quality to it. My father cannot carry a simple tune. His voice sounds like a squeaking piece of chalk making its way across a blackboard, But what can I do? He is paying for everything, besides, he is my father, deserving of our respect. He loves me and wants to express a father’s love his way. How can I insult him by saying he cannot participate in this manner? My groom insists that “no way is your Dad going to ruin our ceremony. We have to tell him plainly and clearly that there is no room in the ceremony for a silly song. How can we let him sing? People will laugh and joke about this self-searing display by the father of the bride.” My father’s desire to sing has generated tremendous conflict. Even my fiance’s parents are putting in their 2 cents worth. They are not sharing any of the costs and should keep quiet. When I complain about his parents my groom gets insulted. Well, I am insulted just as well by his remarks about my father. When I try to make the argument that the song takes only 3 minutes to sing and the rest of the ceremony will be inspiring, my groom’s reply is that it doesn’t matter “the only thing people will remember about our ceremony will be your father’s singing.. Unless you tell him that he can’t sing, our ceremony will become a comedy instead of a tribute to our love.”
A. Your groom has a point. A beautiful ceremony should have a certain rhythm, a certain beat to it that will make it fascinating and long after the taste of the roast beef has faded and the sound of the music is a faint memory, the only thing that will remain with be the memory of an inspiring ceremony, provided that it is carefully planned and skillfully executed. When your father injects himself into the ceremony his well-meaning intentions will be disruptive and cause everything else to fade into the background, What will remain will be the irritating sound of an out of place song. So what needs to be done to resolve an unnecessary conflict?
- First, don’t insult your father by telling him “clearly that there is no room in the ceremony for a silly song.” Your groom needs to be more sensitive to the feelings of his father in law to be. There is a lot of love in a father’s heart for his daughter. That love should not be challenged this way. Remember. When you insult or embarrass your mother in law or your father in law, they will never, never, never let you forget it. Am I suggesting that you have to do their bidding? Of course not. When you become husband and wife, it is the both against the world…including your parents. The world, you can tell off…but not your parents. When it comes to mom and dad, deal with them with a sense of humor mingled with respect and compassion. A sense of humor is an ingredient you will always need not just when you are dealing with interfering parents, but also when you are involved with yourselves. Here is an example of what I mean. You have a parent who wants to know every detail of the ceremony. Whatever you describe to your parent you will probably need to defend it. So, don’t go into detail. And, don’t say “It’s my decision to make not yours.” Instead, say something like: “ Mom, it’s going to be very beautiful and I know you will love it. Our ceremony is not just for us it is also a gift to you that you and your friends will love. Our wedding is a tribute to you as much as it is to us. So don’t ask. I know you like happy surprises. Please give us the honor of surprising you with some of the special things we are planning for our big day.” This approach may mollify your parents, of course, there are many other approaches you can use. But don’t abandon your sense of humor.
- There is a very simple answer to the question of Daddy singing about “My Little Girl“ during the ceremony. Both bride and groom need to sit down with him and say as a team: “Dad we are so thrilled that you want to sing during the ceremony. It is such a beautiful expression of love that should not be wasted during a 20-minute ceremony. We have an idea. During the reception, you should introduce the song by telling everyone why you selected that particular piece and what it has to do with you and your daughter. When you are finished singing have everyone raise their glasses of wine as a toast to a father’s love.” He will probably buy this approach. Of course, you can probably come up with a dozen other ideas. Now, as far as your guests are concerned, they will be so drunk, it really won’t matter. But you will have salvaged your ceremony.
If you want to have a ceremony that everyone will remember, please give Rabbi Sol a call at 561-350-8722