I’m 25, and getting married to the love of my life in six months. I was very close to my father but he passed away when I was in middle school. I decided quite some time ago that my cousin, Richard, would walk me down the aisle in place of my father. He has always acted as my big brother (I have no siblings) and has been there for me through good times and bad. When I asked him to perform this duty, he was so elated that he was near tears.
My mother got remarried about a year and a half ago to a wonderful man after knowing him for six months. I have never referred to him as my step-dad (only as my mom’s husband) because he had no part in raising me, but I respect him and how happy he’s made my mom. We’re having a small ceremony with only family and close friends because my fiancé and I are paying for the majority of the wedding and reception. My mom and her husband insisted that they pay for the venue (the ceremony and the reception are going to be in the same place), which we accepted gratefully. However, my mom recently told me she was very disappointed that I hadn’t included her husband in the ceremony at all. When she first asked if he was to be “giving me away,” I told her that Richard would be, and that it’s a little offensive that she would ask such a thing. She got upset about this, and told me that we should at least try to include him in something. The wedding is going to be non-denominational, and probably very short; my mom and my future mother-in-law will read a poem, and our maid of honor and best man will read an excerpt from a book, but other than that, there isn’t very much room for anything else. I appreciate everything he’s done for me in the last two years, but I am not close enough to him to include him in the already very small ceremony.
My mom is now creating all sorts of drama and telling family members that I’m being disrespectful and childish. While I would love to include him in the ceremony, I have only known him for two years, and frankly, other family members and friends take seniority and importance over him. Is there a way we can compromise? Am I being as offensive as my mom thinks I am? — No Role for Step-Dad
Oh, for God’s sake. It’s your wedding, not your mother’s. She’s already had two weddings of her own! She needs to back off, and you need her down and tell her that enough is enough. Let her know her behavior and attitude are hurting your feelings, and you won’t tolerate six more months of it. Emphasize how happy you are that she has found a new life partner, but explain that her husband is not a replacement for your father and it’s insensitive of her to expect you to embrace him as such. And then, if you want to extend an olive branch and reach a compromise that may appease your mother without putting you out to much, I have a solution.
Ask your mother’s husband to usher! I noticed that in the few roles you’ve assigned, your fiancé’s dad wasn’t mentioned, so if he’s still alive and in the picture, why not invite both him and your stepfather to usher your guests to their seats? That way, they get the honor of having a specific role in your wedding — if you’re having programs made, they can even see their names in it — and you get a little help ensuring your guests arrive to their seats in an orderly fashion. One more idea: if you haven’t already sent out invitations — and I assume you haven’t since the wedding is still six months away — you can word them in such a way that it’s obvious that your mother and her husband are co-hosts of your wedding (since they’re paying for the venue, which is typically a pretty big percentage of the wedding costs). You could go with something like, “Mr. and Mrs. [Your mother and her husband's name] join us inviting you to our wedding on such-and-such date…”. Again, this is entirely up to you. These ideas certainly aren’t required, but if they aren’t too much skin off your nose, they may go a long way in keeping your mother from getting her panties in such a bunch.
Finally, just out of curiosity: why are you asking your cousin, Richard, to walk you down the aisle and not your mother? I wouldn’t suggest changing now, especially since you’ve already asked Richard and he was so touched by the gesture, but I wonder if any part of your mother’s disappointment and drama-making doesn’t have something to do with her own hurt feelings in being overlooked for such an important role. But, hell, maybe she’s always this much of a drama queen, in which case, I can understand why you wouldn’t bestow the honor on her. But in these modern times, it does seem a little old-fashioned to put emphasis on the gender of one’s escort down the aisle as opposed to the role that person played in your upbringing. No knock on your personally; I’m just sort of opening the topic for conversation. To readers: how have you decided whom to ask to walk you down the aisle? Does gender play the biggest role in your decision?