Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Weddings in Film ~ The Big Day ~ Father of the Bride (1950)

My Weddings in Film series explores the different stages of getting married as seen through classic movies. The fifth film, Father of the Bride (1950), takes a look at all the chaos of the days leading up to a wedding.

“I would like to say a few words about weddings. I’ve just been through one. Not my own, my daughter’s. Some day in the far future I may be able to remember it with tender indulgence but not now. I always used to think that marriage was a simple affair. Boy and girl meet, they fall in love, get married, they have babies, eventually the babies grow up and meet other babies and fall in love and get married and so on and on and on. Looked at that way it’s not only simple it’s downright monotonous. But I was wrong.” - Stanley

Oh boy! The big day is near and there is still so much left to do. You'll need to gather up your bridal party for a rehearsal, check with all your vendors, make all the payments, cross your T's and dot your I's and much more. And once the wedding is nigh, time seems to fly by at such a rapid pace that you wish time would freeze just so you could take a breather. Those few days right before the wedding are the most stressful.

In fact you may be experience a few headaches during the whole process.

Father of the Bride (1950) follows Stanley T. Banks (Spencer Tracy) as he prepares himself both financially and emotionally to his daughter's upcoming wedding. Things are moving really fast for Stanley. It's only been a short while since his daughter Kay (Elizabeth Taylor) announced that she was in love with and planning to marry her beau Buckley (Don Taylor).

"It was just three months exactly… that the storm broke here." - Stanley

Three months isn't a lot of time to deal with the stress that comes along with a wedding. Not only that, Stanley has to come to terms with the fact that he's losing his beloved 20 year old daughter to a man whom he doesn't know very much about while also facing the fact that as the bride's father he will have to finance the whole affair.

And there are lots of things to pay for. Lots. Including things like fancy wedding cakes.

With a price tag like that back in 1950, it's enough to make anyone go a little crazy. (Fun factoid: In 2012, my own wedding cake doesn't even cost that much!).

Did Buckley happen to mention who is going to finance these child marriages? – Stanley 

 There are a lot of big and little details that go into planning a wedding and when you put them altogether they can be overwhelming. But nothing is quite as stressful as those days leading up to the wedding. 

"I hope you have better luck than I did. Spent $5,000 on my daughter’s wedding. 6 months later she was on her way to Reno." – random Dad at the Engagement party

CHAOS, absolute complete chaos.” – Stanley

You said it Stanley! Weddings are absolute chaos. Making sure everything comes together can be quite a daunting task. First you have to figure out where your ceremony/reception is going to be held. Then you make your guest list which seems to grow uncontrollably. You make out your invitations, send them out and hope that enough people will say yes. Not too many though, just enough so that you can afford it.

Then there is figuring out the flowers, catering, suits, dresses, gown, trousseau, tents, chairs, candles, cake, entertainment, and on and on and on.

I thought a wedding was supposed to be a joyous occasion. This is a business convention! - Kay

The Stanley and Ellie Banks (Joan Bennett) have their work cut out for them. As the parents of the bride they have to handle and pay for pretty much everything. All Buckley's parents have to do is show up and hand over the groom.

Then there is the matter of attire. One of the most humorous scenes in the movie is when Stanley tries on an old suit and top hat he had in his closet. The box it's in is full of moth balls and the suit is a few sizes too small. Stanley is determined to save some money and re-use a suit he's only worn twice before.

Oops! Stanley has to give in and fork over the money for a new suit. We all find situations like this during the wedding planning stage. You think you'll save money by re-using or skipping something but in the end you just end up paying for it just to not have to deal with the drama.

One thing that does seem to lighten the financial burden of weddings is presents. 

“We were not accustomed to such bounty. The idea that anyone should go out and purchase a gift with hard money filled us with tender gratitude." - Stanley

And when the presents come, make sure you have somewhere to put them! Because they'll take up a whole lot of space.

Wedding planning consists of a whole lot of coordinating. And most of that is wrangling all the people involved. Not only do all the guests have to be selected and invited, you also need to confirm that they will actually be coming to your wedding. Also, bridal parties have to get selected, outfitted in their tuxes and dresses, you'll need to order boutonnieres for the men and bouquets for the women and of course you'll need to have a rehearsal to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Let's hope your rehearsal doesn't go as badly as the one in the movie!

As the wedding day draws near, you may start to have stress-induced nightmares. Like Stanley did!

When the chaos has reached it's peak, it's good to just sit down and talk to somebody about everything that is going on. Being able to sort through all your emotions with a good deep conversation will help immensely.

Just keep in mind what the day represents and all the wonderful memories you'll have after all the chaos has settled and the stress has just become a distant memory.

“On to the slaughter…” - Kay

And by the end, you'll have a big party with lots of friends and family and plenty of booze. Congratulations!

P.S. Did you enjoy the screen caps? You can see a full set of them (including some not seen here) on the Out of the Past Facebook page.


  1. My mother told me that at the time she was married (1960) it was a common tradition to lay all the gifts out on tables, just as in your screen cap, and then friends and relatives would come over and admire it all!

    A lovely post!!

    Best wishes,

  2. This is probably my favorite wedding themed film. Tracy is great as the father. My favorite scene is the one where he has made all of the martinis, anticipating that that is what everyone will drink, and instead he gets stuck playing bartender, making drinks to order and misses everything at the engagement party!


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