A Daughter’s wedding day is one of the most significant events for any parents—but probably not the easiest.
It’s so difficult for some that they find themselves at a loss for words. If you’re not sure of what’s the best way to congratulate your little girl on her big day, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s what to say to your daughter on her wedding day.
Table of Contents
- Include your in-laws in time with your family when you can
- Prioritize what is best for you as a couple rather than what is best for one or the other
- Measure your marriage on whether you feel appreciated and your needs are being met
- Staying positive and loving is the best advice I would recommend
- “Always keep a sense of humor”
- “You can’t change other people. You can only change yourself.”
- Reflect on your daughter during her years of growing up
- Embrace the moment
- Profess your good wishes for her on the new journey as a wife and share any wise words of wisdom for a successful marriage
- Your marriage is not a competition, it is a partnership
- Speak up for your needs
- Don’t complain
- Focus on supporting your daughter throughout what can be an emotionally tumultuous day
- It’s not the words that make it remarkable but the emotions expressed
- It’s good to make a special statement about how proud you are of your daughter
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How can I support my daughter emotionally on her wedding day?
- How can I ensure I’m dressed appropriately for my daughter’s wedding?
- How can I involve my daughter’s future in-laws in the wedding planning process?
- How can I handle difficult family members at my daughter’s wedding?
- How can I handle wedding day jitters as the parent of the bride?
Deborah Merrill, Ph.D.
Sociology Professor, Clark University
Include your in-laws in time with your family when you can
They want to remain a part of their son’s life. It will benefit everyone in the long run, and your husband will be grateful for not being pulled in two directions.
Have you ever heard the adage, “A daughter is a daughter for all of her life, but a son is a son ‘til he takes him a wife?” In my book, When Your Children Marry, I examine the impact that an adult child’s marriage has on their relationship with their parents and whether that differs for sons versus daughters.
I found that it was somewhat more common for parents to feel that they no longer saw as much of their sons once they married while they continued to see their daughters as frequently as they had prior to their marriage.
However, the difference between remaining close to sons versus daughters was not as great as the adage suggests. Some parents did say though that they were not as large a part of their sons’ lives as they had been before their sons married, and they felt left out.
For their part, daughters said that they were more likely to invite their parents to join in on family gatherings because they felt more comfortable with their own parents than their in-laws.
One daughter, for example, said that she was more likely to invite her mother to join her and her sons at the beach than her mother-in-law because she knew that her mother would not judge her for feeding her children a peanut butter sandwich for lunch.
Daughters also made an effort to pull their husbands into their families, while sons did not make the same effort to pull their wives into their relationships with their parents. A few sons said that they felt conflicted sometimes between spending time with their spouses and their parents.
New wives can eliminate that tension if they are willing to invite their husband’s families into their lives. Some new wives may not be aware that their in-laws feel left out or that they could ease any tension with them by including them more.
In my book, Mothers-in-Law and Daughters-in-Law: Understanding the Relationship and What Makes Them Friends or Foe, I examine the causes of conflict between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law.
In-law conflict is not nearly as common as the media suggests. However, in some cases, it is far worse than I would have predicted. The most common cause of extreme conflict is when daughters-in-law perceive their mothers-in-law as interfering in the raising of their children or in their marriages.
More likely though was for new parents-in-law to feel that they were now on the periphery of their son’s lives rather than being a part of those lives. If new wives were aware of the potential for this to happen, they could improve their relationships with their in-laws and minimize the likelihood that their husbands felt conflicted by including their in-laws where possible.
Prioritize what is best for you as a couple rather than what is best for one or the other
In other words, put your marriage ahead of individual interests. Throughout the marriage, couples often have to make decisions about changing jobs and/or where they live.
They sometimes make those decisions by prioritizing what is best for one spouse and then alternating and prioritizing what is best for the other spouse the next time that a decision needs to be made.
Marriage is more than the sum of two people living parallel lives, however. The marriage itself is a separate entity that must be nurtured in order for it to thrive. Doing what is best for the marriage may not maximize what is best for either partner, but it will increase the likelihood that the marriage endures.
Measure your marriage on whether you feel appreciated and your needs are being met
Measure your marriage based not on the number of relative hours spent on housework and child care but on whether you feel appreciated and your needs are being met. In an attempt to make sure that their marriage is an equal partnership, new wives may sometimes keep track of the relative amount of time that they versus their husbands spend on housework.
Arlie Hochschild found this to be the case in her book, The Second Shift. She describes the lengths that wives will sometimes go to in order to ensure that their marriage is egalitarian.
For example, one wife desperately tried to get her husband to cook half of the meals and do half of the household cleaning and laundry. He did not feel comfortable doing so and would either forget to clean or order out pizza for dinner.
Eventually, the couple split the house in half. The husband, in this case, Evan, was responsible for the basement and the dog while his wife Nancy was responsible for everything else, including the care of the couple’s son.
Hochschild argues that couples will sometimes feign equality where it does not exist because of the importance of this gender ideology in their self-perception. While this book was published in the 1970s, wives today will sometimes still insist that their husbands do half of the work in order to feel good about their marriage.
Marriage is more than an equal arrangement of domestic chores.
If all you want is someone to clean the house, you can hire a cleaner. Marriage is more than that. It is about having one’s emotional needs met and being better off as a result of the social insurance and joy that comes with sharing one’s life and family.
Marriage provides insurance that money cannot buy. You have someone who will assist you in the event of illness, unemployment, or need for emotional support. Marriage can be a transformative experience that offers self-fulfillment, meaning beyond one’s self, and security that singlehood cannot offer. Counting the hours that one devotes to housework takes away from the trust that is built from years spent living together and sharing responsibilities.
It is the shared trust, security, and feeling a part of something greater than one’s self that makes marriage worthwhile, not the relative number of hours spent cleaning the toilet.
I have heard hundreds of beautiful and amazing comments from mothers and fathers to their daughters leading up to and on her wedding day.
Staying positive and loving is the best advice I would recommend
The hurtful, non-supportive comments last a lifetime and they damage a relationship between a bride her new spouse, and her parent(s). Here are a few of my favorite and loving real comments from parents to their daughters. Some on their actual wedding day:
- “You know I think you are beautiful every day, but today you are beautiful from the inside radiating outwards.”
- “Today, I see your happiness in your smile. I’m equally that happy for you.”
- “Thank you for the love you give to me every day. My wish is that your husband gives you that much love for eternity.”
- “I’m thankful today my Sweet Princess is marrying her Prince Charming.”
- “My journey of raising you might be over, but today, we are still on the same path, but you are leading your own way.”
- “You’re not leaving us today. You are taking us along your next adventure. We’re enjoying the ride.”
- “We’re not going anywhere, and you’re not leaving us. We’re always here and loving who you are bringing along to join our family.”
- I love it when parents will step aside before they walk down the aisle, hold hands, and say a prayer together. A family that prays together…
- Mentioning how much the parent also loves and appreciates the bride’s fiancé is an important message to emphasize before the ceremony begins.
- Parents don’t even have to say a thing. The greatest hug of their life should be given to their daughter on her wedding day. Imagine what that is going to feel like.
- But perhaps my most favorite moment wasn’t anything said, it was the father/daughter dance, as the bride took off her shoes and put her feet on top of her father’s feet and danced their dance together. I knew what her tearful father at that moment was thinking: “I’ll never forget this moment for the rest of my life.”
Owner, Bridal Fitness Coach
“Always keep a sense of humor”
The first piece of advice I received on my wedding day was from a very dear friend in her 90s, who told me, “Always keep a sense of humor.” This advice came from a woman who had lived through several very tragic events in her life – WWII, being abandoned in an orphanage, and becoming a widow in her 20s with twin toddler daughters. Through it, all this amazing woman has always kept a sense of humor.
“You can’t change other people. You can only change yourself.”
The second piece of advice I received a few years into my marriage came from my beloved, deceased mother-in-law. A few years into our marriage, her son and I were having some challenges.
Out of desperation, I called her one day. What she told me, has changed how I deal with everyone in my life. She said, “You can’t change other people. You can only change yourself.” I am happy to say that even though we still have challenges from time to time, ten years later we have a very happy marriage.
Licensed Psychotherapist | Host, On the Mark
Reflect on your daughter during her years of growing up
The wonderful qualities that she possessed, the things that you were so proud of her for, share, and enjoy laughs about the memories. This is not the time to share disappointments in her nor failed hopes and dreams for her.
Embrace the moment
Tell her how beautiful she is at this moment, how proud of her you are. Seize this moment, this memory!
This may not be the time to talk about motherhood and your excitement and expectancy for it if she does not currently have children. Motherhood is a new role and for some women, there are biological concerns that may prevent it from occurring naturally. Although there are several alternatives to achieving motherhood, some women feel inadequate about the inability to conceive and anxiety about the expectation.
Resource Director, Education Advocates
Your marriage is not a competition, it is a partnership
Too many times women feel like they need to prove themselves so they make everything into a competition with their husbands. This puts the man on the defensive and threatens his masculinity.
When you approach your marriage as a partnership, you don’t have to “one-up” or get control over each other. A marriage is a place to feel safe, not a competition.
Speak up for your needs
Many women feel they were put on this earth to serve, taking a back seat to what they need. While it is a virtue to serve and care for others, your needs are important.
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and need while you are considering the needs of your husband and your marriage. When you take care of yourself, you will be much happier and healthier.
Married couples often fall into the pattern of complaining about things. They come home from a hard day and tell their partner everything that went wrong or complain about their life.
Complaining serves no purpose except to drive people away. If you have a problem, solve it.
If you want your husband to do something, ask him directly and honestly. Men tend to hear your complaints as criticism, so think carefully about how you word things. Make sure you tell your husband when he does something right. People like to feel appreciated.
Founder & CEO, EWedded | Author & Podcast Host, Happily Altered After
“I love you and am proud of the woman you’ve become. You’ve never looked more beautiful. Let today set the precedence for your marriage. When you walk down the aisle and into your new life as a wife shine bright and confident in who you are.
The best advice I can give you is to protect your identity and don’t abandon the hopes and dreams you have for yourself. Your marriage should bring out the best of you and your spouse should be a champion for your desires, and you should reciprocate.
Work tirelessly to lift each other up; celebrate your individuality and independence and the union that is your marriage.”
“Live the vows you exchange today every day and use them as a touchstone if you experience unsettling times in your marriage. Just as we are flawed, marriages are too. Stay true to your values and convictions, but don’t be too proud to apologize when you’re wrong. Compromise where you can, and always keep the lines of communication open.”
“Don’t lose touch with the people who love you. Like today, surround yourself with loved ones and continue to create special memories filled with laughter, gratitude, and hope.
In times of adversity and strife lean on these people for support and strength, and remember that even though you’ll begin establishing your own home, my door is always open if you ever need to walk back through it.”
“Today is going to be a whirlwind and will be over before you know it. Take time to sneak away with your new spouse and observe the love and energy that’s being created for you in this moment.
Hold tight to these memories so you never forget the journey to how you got here and why this day existed. Love deeply. Celebrate often. Take time to reflect and show gratitude for your life.”
Focus on supporting your daughter throughout what can be an emotionally tumultuous day
The thing you need to remember about your daughter’s wedding day is that it’s just a day. Often, the wedding day is so hectic that the bride remembers only a whirlwind of excitement and feelings. The words you say to your daughter on her wedding day are not the most important words that are spoken in your relationship with her.
You can tie yourself up in knots agonizing over the “right” thing to say on this monumental day. Try to recognize that the angst you feel about choosing the right thing to say is manufactured in your mind. (Also, your daughter probably doesn’t want you stressing about it)
In general, when we put this kind of pressure on ourselves to say the “right” thing, it’s because on some level we believe that if we say the perfect string of words, the recipient will be delighted, it will make their event perfect, and they’ll love us.
If we say the “wrong” thing, the recipient will be upset, the event will be ruined, and their love for us will be less. None of this is true – it’s all just stress we create for ourselves.
Focus on supporting your daughter throughout what can be an emotionally tumultuous day. Tell her you love her. Tell her that no matter what happens in the future, you will continue to love her. When you agonize about what to say, you’re making it about you. Just be there for her. What you say is not the most important thing happening on your daughter’s wedding day.
As a wedding photographer, one of my favorite times on a wedding day is when a father sees his daughter for the first time. For him, his little girl is all grown up, and her thoughts and feelings are at a high point as well.
It’s not the words that make it remarkable but the emotions expressed
The most meaningful of these father-daughter moments I’ve witnessed hasn’t been remarkable for the specific words the dad said, but for the emotion he expressed. I could tell that he – and his daughter – were present in the moment, and that’s what I’d say is most important: be present.
Before you see your daughter for the first time, take a deep breath. Remember what it was like to hold her as a baby, watch her take her first steps, and see her grow up into the woman she is today.
Reflect on your love for her, and step into the room and tell her everything that’s on your heart. She might not remember all of your words, but she will remember how you made her feel.
Wedding Photographer, Artful Haven
On their wedding day, brides usually get nervous and somehow end up not being themselves the whole day. However, they still want to keep this day as a wonderful memory and it becomes a lot of pressure for them. The new experience that awaits them might look scary this day. Also, this is an emotional day for the whole family, and the bride should feel special and loved.
One thing that I’d like to hear from my parents is that they are happy for me and support me in this life decision.
Your daughter will always be more confident and calm if you ensure her, no matter where she goes, or what happens from that moment on, that she always has a home to come back to, that she never has to feel like she’s leaving forever and that she’s on her own. She’s already a bit nervous about the new experience, and her parents should let her know they are always there for her, no matter what.
This may sound simple and obvious, but I believe this kind of talk can truly mean the world to a bride on her wedding day.
Being present at the very moment a father sees his daughter in her wedding gown is often an emotional moment for me too especially after I became a father to my own daughter.
Over the years, I’ve heard fathers say such memorable words such as:
- “You look incredible. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me this moment to enjoy. I’ll never forget it for as long as I shall live.”
- You’re marrying your best friend. I see the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree.
- “I’m so sorry for crying. I can’t help it. You’re beautiful. Absolutely beautiful and I know Mark is going to pass out at the top of the aisle when he sees you!”
- “This is still your home. It will always be your home. Please never forget that.”
- “Hopefully, one day you’ll have children. If you are to receive only half the joy I’ve received from you, you’ll be incredibly happy.”
- “Honey, if ____ makes you half as happy as your mother has made me, you’ll be walking on cloud nine for the rest of your life.”
- “This is it now _____. You’re Brian’s responsibility from today. I’ve told him I have a “no returns” policy!”
Senior Editor, Wedding Forward
When preparing the wedding wishes you should remember to acknowledge both partners and not only craft the wedding wishes toward your daughter. Welcoming the new spouse to the family is necessary.
It’s good to make a special statement about how proud you are of your daughter
A good etiquette rule to remember when writing wedding wishes for a daughter is to not just congratulate your daughter and her partner but to make sure you acknowledge their new life together.
- “My/our deepest love and very best wishes to you both.”
- “Remember when you made that list of qualities of a ‘perfect man/woman?’ Well, you found him/her. Lots of love now and always.”
- “Lots of love and happiness to you both on this exciting and joyful day for our family.”
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I support my daughter emotionally on her wedding day?
Your daughter’s wedding day is a significant and emotional milestone, and as her parent, your presence and support can go a long way toward making her feel calm, loved, and confident.
First, take the time to listen to her thoughts and feelings before the wedding day and offer words of encouragement and affirmation. Reassure her that she’s loved and that everything will come together beautifully.
Ensure she has enough space and privacy on the wedding day to get ready and prepare for the ceremony. Be there to help her or lend a sympathetic ear, but avoid being overbearing or interfering too much.
Be present and engaged during the ceremony and reception, but allow your daughter and her partner to be the center of attention.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself, too, because weddings can be emotionally draining for parents. Take breaks when needed and connect with loved ones who can support and comfort you throughout the day.
How can I ensure I’m dressed appropriately for my daughter’s wedding?
Dressing appropriately for your daughter’s wedding can be tricky, as it depends on the formality and style of the event. If you’re unsure, asking your daughter or the wedding planner for guidance is always best. Generally, it’s better to dress up than dress down.
Men should wear a suit or tuxedo for a formal wedding, while women should opt for a formal dress or gown. Men can wear dress pants and a collared shirt for a semi-formal or casual wedding, while women can wear a sundress or dressy separates.
Avoid wearing anything too revealing, flashy, or attention-grabbing, as it could take the focus away from the bride and groom.
Finally, make sure your outfit is comfortable and appropriate for the weather. You don’t want to be shivering or sweating throughout the wedding, as this could detract from your enjoyment of the event.
How can I involve my daughter’s future in-laws in the wedding planning process?
Involving your daughter’s future in-laws in wedding planning can foster a sense of unity and inclusion and can also help alleviate any potential tension or conflict.
Start by reaching out to them and expressing your desire to create a beautiful wedding day together. Ask for their input and ideas, and listen to their suggestions with an open mind.
Consider assigning specific tasks or roles to future in-laws, such as helping with decorations, arranging transportation, or coordinating lodging for out-of-town guests.
You can also involve them in pre-wedding events, such as the rehearsal dinner or bridal shower, so they feel more included in the celebrations.
Above all, remember that the wedding is about celebrating the love and union of two families, and by working with your daughter’s future in-laws, you can help create a warm and welcoming atmosphere for all guests.
How can I handle difficult family members at my daughter’s wedding?
It’s not uncommon for difficult family members to cause tension at a wedding, but you can handle such situations gracefully in several ways.
First and foremost, try to stay calm and avoid getting sucked into arguments or drama. If someone behaves rudely or confrontationally, setting boundaries and removing yourself from the situation is okay.
If you’re worried about certain family members causing trouble, consider seating them separately or assigning them specific tasks, such as helping with decorations or guestbook duties. You can also enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member to act as a buffer between you and difficult family members.
Remember that the day is about celebrating your daughter and her partner, and it’s important that the focus is on their happiness and love for each other.
You can help defuse difficult situations and ensure a smooth and joyful wedding day by staying positive and gracious.
How can I handle wedding day jitters as the parent of the bride?
Wedding day jitters are normal for the parents of the bride because it’s a significant and emotional milestone. Start by acknowledging and accepting your feelings and remembering that it’s natural to feel a range of emotions on such an important day.
Take care of yourself in the time leading up to the wedding by getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and engaging in stress-reducing activities such as yoga or meditation. Avoid consuming too much alcohol or caffeine, as this can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and nervousness.
Be sure to take breaks as needed during the wedding day and connect with supportive friends or family members who can comfort and calm you. Allow yourself to experience and express your emotions, whether through tears of joy or a heartfelt speech.
Remember that this day is about celebrating your daughter’s love and happiness, and focus on the joy and positivity of the occasion.
By taking care of yourself and staying present in the moment, you can help ensure that the wedding day is a memorable and joyful experience for everyone involved.
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