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“My Mother’s Pissed I Didn’t Ask Her New Husband to Walk me Down the Aisle”

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?

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

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{ 156 comments… add one }

avatar applescruff July 14, 2011, 3:04 pm

I really like Wendy’s suggestion of asking the father figures to usher. Hopefully that will soothe any hurt feelings.

avatar DebMoore July 14, 2011, 4:46 pm

I agree! My Husband and I have a lot of mutual male friends and when we ran out of room for groomsmen we made a bunch of them ushers. Like Wendy said it helped us out, they got to be a part of things and even got their names in the program.

avatar Yozi July 14, 2011, 3:05 pm

I cringe at the idea of anyone “giving me away”. ick.

avatar SpaceySteph July 14, 2011, 3:18 pm

I agree. Maybe its my militant feminist side peeking out, but I belong to nobody. I work, I own a home and a car, I pay my own way…I have a good relationship with my parents who I love dearly, but my father doesn’t own me now, and my husband won’t own me when I get married.

avatar Renee July 14, 2011, 9:32 pm

FYI, Even the Catholic Church doesn’t like the father walking down the aisle bit. It tolerates but it’s not a part of the Church. Bride and Groom should walk down together, because they are giving the Sacrament to each other.

avatar Richard Cook July 15, 2011, 5:29 pm

I can see who’s marriage won’t last. “I’m too independent to be chained to you!”

avatar Locomotive Breath July 15, 2011, 6:48 pm

You are unsuited for marriage because you appear to be unwilling to give anything of yourself to your husband under any circumstances. Make yourselves happy. Back out now. Better to be a bitter old “spinster” than a bitter old divorcee. OTOH, if you tolerate him for long enough you might be able to walk away with most of his money. So there’s that.

avatar TheOtherMe July 14, 2011, 3:27 pm

I guess you will be leaving the “obey” part out of your vows ? :D

avatar Yozi July 14, 2011, 3:35 pm

Ya, exactly I’m an independent person. Pay my own bills and such, and I don’t want to feel like my father’s prized milk cow on my wedding day. I understand that some people really appreciate the walk down the aisle part of weddings, And I respect that, but personally it just rubs me the wrong way all over. And I don’t know if I can get around it. I’m thinking I might actually like to get married in Vegas and have a party for the family later. Now, If Elvis wants to walk me down the aisle I think I would make a special exception for him…

avatar oceanspray July 15, 2011, 8:04 pm

So, have the wedding far away from your nearest and dearest so none of them can attend and share this (supposedly) very important moment in your life, but don’t forget to schedule that post-nuptial shakedown. Why should you forgo all that swag just ’cause they weren’t at the wedding. You’re a real catch!

avatar SpaceySteph July 14, 2011, 3:36 pm

For me, obey is out. “Forsaking all others” is definitely in though. Also despite not even being Christian, the “what god has joined let no man put asunder” was a clause in the vows I always liked because it invoked ideas of a soul mate. So I’m a hopelessly romantic militant feminist. Go figure…

avatar spaceboy761 July 14, 2011, 3:55 pm

My only request with Spacewife and I’s interfaith ceremony was that break the glass Macho Man-style with a flying elbow.

avatar Bethany July 14, 2011, 4:04 pm

My Dad will be walking me down the isle, NOT giving me away. I think there’s a distinct difference (even though the appear to be the same thing). My dad knows that I don’t belong to him, and everyone in attendance in my wedding knows it! I know it’s going to be one of the best experiences of his life, getting to escort me into this next phase of my life, and I’m so happy to be able to share that with him.

avatar Yozi July 14, 2011, 4:22 pm

I’m gonna get purple thumbed for this, but here goes…It looks like the same thing because it *is* the same thing. I understand that people love and respect tradition. But how can you ignore the origins of that tradition in your mind when you are participating in it? Walking down the aisle is about being given away. You can decided not to think of it that way, and to swap out a dad for an aunt or a mom or whatever, but it doesn’t change the actual meaning of what the tradition was meant to symbolize.

avatar Yozi July 14, 2011, 4:28 pm

For the record I think it’s equally strange that people buy eggs on Easter and think it has something to do with Jesus and not about bunnies getting it on in the spring time.

avatar Lexington July 15, 2011, 2:14 pm

Bunnies lay eggs?!

avatar Red_Lady July 15, 2011, 4:25 pm

The Cadbury one does!

avatar Robin July 15, 2011, 10:37 pm

Haven’t you heard of The Hare Club for Men? It explains the connection between Peter Cottontail, Easter Eggs, and Christianity.

avatar MissDre July 14, 2011, 4:30 pm

I see walking down the aisle more as…. the most important person in my life up until now is accompanying me to meet the NEWEST most important person in my life. So for me, it would be my mom. She’s been there for me through everything…. I’d want her to come with me as I make the walk down the aisle. I don’t see it at all as her giving me away…

Like how she was the one who helped me get dressed on the day of my graduation.

Kinda like how I’d want my mom to be there when I have a baby…. I want her to be there with me, to experience it with me. Because we’re so close and I love her so much!

But, that’s just my opinion.

avatar Yozi July 14, 2011, 4:32 pm

Right, but that’s your interpretation of the tradition. It doesn’t change what it was meant to represent. I think it’s cool that people want to update an old tradition to meet their own needs. You’re righting your own rules. That’s cool. I just can’t get around thinking about what it was originally meant to be about.

avatar Yozi July 14, 2011, 4:35 pm

*writing*

avatar Riefer July 14, 2011, 5:50 pm

If that’s your view of it, then I don’t see how you can get married at all. One of the main “traditional” purposes of marriage as a social construct is to give men the ability to ensure that their children are theirs. Essentially, they were given ownership of their wife (and her uterus), and no other man is allowed to use it.

This is why it’s typically been more acceptable for men to not be virgins before marriage and to cheat on their spouse. It’s because the woman has to belong to only one man, but there’s no such restriction on men, because it’s impossible for a man to trick a woman into having kids that aren’t actually hers (short of brainwashing, I guess). This is also why polygamy involving one woman with multiple men hardly ever occurs in human society – it mostly happens for the purpose of sharing property, and not because it’s a desired form of marriage (unlike the reverse).

Anyway, I’m just saying. I don’t know of any currently existing culture where the marriage tradition did not come out of the concept of the man owning the woman. So the tradition of marriage itself is based on that concept. Personally, I feel that we’re forging new meanings of marriage, which is why it’s acceptable to me, and that’s why walking down the aisle with another member of your family doesn’t necessarily mean they’re giving you into your husband’s ownership. But if you believe that the traditions can’t represent new thinking, and can only represent their original purpose, then you’ll have to give up on marriage altogether.

avatar Spark July 14, 2011, 7:47 pm

Excellent point! I agreed with Yozi, and still do, but your post made me realize that Yozi’s point extends across the concept of marriage as well.

avatar Renee July 14, 2011, 9:38 pm

Knowing who the mom is easier to determine, then knowing who is the dad. It’s nice to know your own dad, not just any guy can step in. Not putting great stepdads in a bad light, but in LW’s case she doesn’t have a dad like relationship withmom’s husband.

avatar Yozi July 15, 2011, 10:22 am

I agree with your point.But Marriage offers people certain privileges like the ability to visit your spouse in the hospital and make decisions regarding their care, funeral prep, etc. tax deductions, shared property rights, and such. This is my interest in marriage. That and the promise to look after each other. In my state heterosexuals aren’t eligible for civil union. So what can I do but get married? There isn’t really another option for people who object to the institution.

avatar Phil July 15, 2011, 5:51 pm

I think you’re confusing the legal definition with the ceremony. You don’t groove on the ceremony and that’s cool. Don’t have one. Go to the county registrar (or whatever it is in you district) and fill out a form. Bam. Done. Without all the “tradition” mucking things up for you.

avatar Yozi July 16, 2011, 11:45 am

Not what we were but thanks for trying.

avatar Yozi July 16, 2011, 11:46 am

*talking about* this phone is hard to write on…

avatar Jackson July 16, 2011, 2:11 am

As Phil points out, the legals right of marriage Yozi is worried about are sorted by popping down to the registry office and signing a few papers. The traditions of a wedding ceremony are a separate issue.

Its simply ludicrous to suggest that the act of walking your daughter down is the aisle is (even symbolically) the act passing of a possession to another.

avatar Yozi July 16, 2011, 9:53 am

Your ignorance is ludicrous.

avatar Yozi July 16, 2011, 11:53 am

Please enlighten me and share what you think walking down the aisle is about if you disagree. Did you think people just made it up cause it looked cool? I mean wtf? Why people are so smug about their ignorance is beyond me. Feels like I’m on the fox news website.

avatar Jackson July 17, 2011, 6:18 am

I sorry Yozi, I didn’t mean to upset you, I certainly didn’t express my point very well (writing is not my strong suit).

That point is simply that in this day and age I believe very few people would actually see walking their daughter down the aisle as the act of “giving” their possession to another man.
When and if my daughters are married I will consider it to be a huge honour if they ask me to walk them down the aisle because to me, it symbolises escorting them towards a new stage in their life.
You say my “ignorance is ludicrous” and that might be so, but I really do believe that few people actually see it as the “cringe” worthy and “ick” act of giving away a possession.

avatar Kristin July 18, 2011, 4:46 pm

Instead of marriage, why don’t you just make an appointment with a lawyer. I’m sure they could help you fill out forms so you and your SO could have power of attorney, shared property rights, etc.

avatar ape_escape July 19, 2011, 4:46 am

But…

“Right, but that’s your interpretation of the tradition. It doesn’t change what it was meant to represent. I think it’s cool that people want to update an old tradition to meet their own needs.”

are you not writing your own rules here too, regarding marriage in general, then? just sayin ;)

TaraMonster TaraMonster July 14, 2011, 4:31 pm

I disagree. I think the meaning does change. When it comes down to it, if you’re doing something for yourself and your own happiness, it’s not just tradition that plays a part. Few people view it as ownership anymore, and parents usually play an integral role in who a person becomes. In such a way, a father (or both parents) walking someone down the ailse becomes a symbol of affirmation of that person’s choice. It may not be necessary, but I don’t think it’s so oppressively patriarchal anymore. Times evolve.

avatar Yozi July 14, 2011, 4:34 pm

What about the white dress? That’s another icky symbol. It’s just all so icky…

avatar SpyGlassez July 14, 2011, 7:05 pm

Actually, the concept of the white dress is relatively new. Until the last century or so, people couldn’t just afford a brand spanking new dress, so you got married (and buried) in your “Sunday best.” I believe it was another Victorian invention, the idea of the pure white dress. And yes, it did have predecessors (flying the bloodied bedclothes out the window, for example).

I have a much simpler reason for not wanting to wear white to my wedding, though. With my coloration, white looks hideous on me.

avatar Nadine July 14, 2011, 11:59 pm

The white dress thing is gross. So many issues with advertising virginity.

avatar El July 15, 2011, 12:27 am

No. What’s “gross” is being judgemental and rude about what another woman chooses to wear on her wedding day. Or how she chooses to conduct herself sexually.

avatar Christy July 14, 2011, 6:36 pm

I agree. Jacyln Geller’s book Here Comes the Bride is a very interesting look at traditions around marriage and weddings. It points out how many people try to individualize their weddings to give it their own meanings, but the cultural meanings are still very entrenched. You can get the book for $2, it’s a real eye-opener!

avatar Tantor July 16, 2011, 8:58 am

The marriage ceremony is full of obscure traditions which can be politicized by jackasses. By jackasses, I mean feminists begging to be outraged and crazy women in general who want to make something into a huge drama with them at the center of it.

You could refuse to wear the wedding ring on your ring finger (worn there because the Romans believed the vein there ran directly to your heart) because it is a tradition which demands ignorance of anatomy.

You could be outraged at people who want to be your bridesmaids and ushers because you don’t need them to confuse evil spirits that may plague your marriage.

You could demand that your husband have no best man because this is not a marriage by capture and he doesn’t need a look out, which is what the best man role originated as.

There is an endless number of phony issues you could rage about if you are a complete idiot. Or you could just get over yourself and have fun indulging in a fun and harmless wedding ritual and have a good time.

avatar Quakergirl July 14, 2011, 4:34 pm

Agreed. I think it’s more representative of the fact that you’re going from being first and foremost a member of the family you grew up in to being a member of the new family you’re creating with your fiance. Your parents have been your primary family for the last however many years, but now it’s your husband. That’s really the legality of it– before you’re married, your parents are your next of kin. If you die, they get everything. If you get in an accident, the ER tries to find them. But when you’re married, your spouse becomes that first contact. They are considered your closest legal relative. When your parents (or your brother or your sister or your aunt) walk you down the aisle, it’s just symbolic of how they’ve guided you and raised you for the last however many years and that now you’re creating a new family. I mean if you remove the gender aspect of your escort, it’s no more or less patriarchal than the legalities of getting married.

avatar Yozi July 14, 2011, 4:38 pm

Quakergirl, I was gonna bring up the Quaker tradition of getting married in a circle with your parents and fiance. I’ve been to a few Quaker weddings and I thought they were very nice.

avatar Quakergirl July 14, 2011, 4:49 pm

The Quakers on the whole are very nice people. Fairly progressive, fairly chill. I wasn’t actually raised Quaker, but I went to Quaker schools and really loved their whole philosophy, so I’d love to incorporate some Quaker traditions into my future wedding.

avatar G July 14, 2011, 4:38 pm

Nobody owns me (or any woman)- this is true.
But, I don’t mind the fact that my parents have always been “in my corner”. My Dad has always watched out for me and protected me in a way- even now that I’m a big girl- I’d still turn to my parents in a time of need. He has taught me a lot and been a wonderful presence in my life. If I ever do get married and do the whole ceremony thing (which I may just elope to save myself a lot of planning hassle), I would think it would be lovely to have my Dad walk me down the aisle as more of a passing of the torch. My new husband will be the new main guy in my corner- the one I can turn to for anything. Not that he has control over my life- but that he will be partially responsible for my well-being- as I will be for his. I think it is really beautiful.

avatar Yozi July 14, 2011, 4:41 pm

I think I’m just way more literal than you guys. It’s like people who have confederate flags saying their not racist. I don’t get it.

avatar bad tempered sparrow July 14, 2011, 6:42 pm

are you comparing people who wear a white dress at their wedding of have their father walk them down the isle with racists?
Also you use the word icky too much.

avatar Nadine July 15, 2011, 12:02 am

Um, no she’s using an analogy. Jump to conclusions much?

avatar Yozi July 15, 2011, 10:09 am

Thanks Nadine, it was meant to be a analogy, ya. Gave me a laugh that it got turned into white dress=racist though.

avatar Rebecca July 14, 2011, 4:26 pm

I did as well, so when my husband and I got married 2 years ago, I walked down the aisle by myself. When it can time for that tradtion saying, we used this instead:

[OFFICIANT ]Others would ask, at this time, who gives the bride in marriage, but, as a woman is not property to be bought and sold, given and taken, I ask simply if she comes of her own will and if she has her family’s blessing. Rebecca, is it true that you come of your own free will and accord?

[BRIDE] Yes, it is true.

[OFFICIANT ] Whose blessings accompany you?

[STEP-FATHER raises] She is accompanied by all of her family’s blessings.

avatar SpaceySteph July 14, 2011, 8:20 pm

LOVE that! Very nicely done.

avatar applescruff July 14, 2011, 9:06 pm

When my friend got married in a traditional Jewish ceremony, she still had the (female) rabbi lead her husband and then men to where she and the women were waiting (her wedding had all of 15 guests). My friend was seated, and the rabbi said, among other things, “a long time ago we believed women were not able to be equal to men in a marriage. Now, we know better. So B, I am going to ask you to stand and face your groom.” They did the rest of that part of the ceremony with both standing, facing each other. I thought that was a beautiful way to blend traditional rituals with a feminist understanding.

katie katie July 14, 2011, 9:55 pm

ohhh i might have to use this at my wedding!!

this website seriously has the best wedding advice in the world. you just have to read everything.. lol

avatar PinkPanther July 15, 2011, 3:07 pm

Awe! I really like that!

avatar Nadine July 16, 2011, 3:51 am

I like this very much too. for me, it would always be about joining two families, but through joy, not necessity or anything else.

katie katie July 14, 2011, 10:01 pm

i totally agree with you. it is interesting how that makes some people so uncomfortable though. i told my mom that i didn’t want anyone to walk me down the aisle when the day came, and she looked at me like i was alien or something… i just dont like that idea either, that your father somehow is “allowing” you to be married and “giving” you away, like its up to him. i just have a real problem with that part, that it is up to him and not me. i kinda thought for a minute that maybe i should just do it and suck it up for the sake of tradition, but especially after reading this and knowing how many other women think the same, i will not be having anyone walk me down the aisle.

i have to admit though, i cannot WAIT for the weird looks i am going to get from my fiance’s family about this. they are country folk, and are probably going to absolutely flip.

avatar Red_Lady July 15, 2011, 4:23 pm

I see it more as showing that there’s a change to your immediate family. Your father (and/or mother) have been the head(s) of your main family unit. Now your husband will be your main family. You are still your own, independent woman, but who you consider as your main family unit is changing.

avatar TECH July 14, 2011, 3:07 pm

Honestly, your mom can shove it! This wedding is about the love between you and your fiance, and it is up to the two of you to decide who will play what role in your wedding. You haven’t known the man very long at all, how could she possibly expect you to want him to walk you down the aisle?
And if she uses the excuse that they are helping pay for the venue, she can shove that too! Such a gift shouldn’t be conditional.
Although Wendy has a great idea about the usher option, you really should not feel obligated to do anything that makes you uncomfortable.
So no, you are not being offensive, disrespectful, or childish.

avatar j.walker July 14, 2011, 3:47 pm

Agree 1000%. And not just because I would sooner push my stepdad down a well than have him participate in my wedding.

avatar MissDre July 14, 2011, 3:16 pm

My mama will be walking me down the aisle at my wedding :) I’ve been somewhat estranged from my dad for nearly 15 years, and while we do have a cordial relationship now, my mother is truly the one who raised me, who taught me right from wrong, who taught me to believe in myself, and has been my best friend all my life. I definitely don’t feel like I need a man to fill that roll.

avatar justpeachy July 14, 2011, 3:16 pm

Or you could have a precision of both sets of parents before the wedding party? That way both your mother and her husband are included.

For my wedding, my dad walked me down the aisle, but I also wanted to include my mother. So, I decided that my grandpa that I am ridiculously close to would walk her. Well, the day of the rehersal, I find out that my grandpa was on a new medication that affected his balance and it probably wasn’t safe for him. Since there were no other male relatives really, my family wanted my dad’s cousin (who I met that day) to walk my mom.

I said “Screw that” and my mom’s sister walked her. And they held hands the whole way. I found it incredibly touching because I look just like my aunt and my sister looks just like our mom and we still like to walk around holding hands (don’t judge us!).

avatar justpeachy July 14, 2011, 3:16 pm

*precession, geez…

avatar Rachelgrace53 July 14, 2011, 4:10 pm

It’s actually “procession” haha

avatar justpeachy July 14, 2011, 5:24 pm

Sorry, but this was bugging me. Precession isn’t wrong, it may not be the wedding term, but it’s not wrong.

precession: the act or fact of preceding
preceding: to go before, as in place, order, rank, importance, or time

avatar Red_Lady July 15, 2011, 4:34 pm

I just googled precession, as I don’t think I’ve heard that term used before:
pre·ces·sion/prəˈseSHən/
Noun: The slow movement of the axis of a spinning body around another axis due to a torque (such as gravitational influence) acting to change the direction of the first axis. It is seen in the circle slowly traced out by the pole of a spinning gyroscope.

avatar Riefer July 14, 2011, 3:16 pm

I originally wanted just my mom to walk me down the aisle, but didn’t want to slight my dad, so I asked them both to do it. Nothing against my dad, I love him very much, but my mom is the one who sacrificed everything and anything in her life in order to make her children’s lives just a little bit better. I wanted to pay my respects to that by having her walk me down. In retrospect though, I’m glad I had them both because I think it would have hurt my dad’s feelings.

Another thing I was considering was walking down *with* my husband. My mom doesn’t like being the center of attention, so if she had refused I probably would have done this one.

Yozi, walking down the aisle is not the same as giving away. My sister had my dad give her away, which I agree, I don’t like. He actually put my sister’s hand into her fiance’s hand. I think it’s weird. For me, I specifically said I didn’t want that. What happened was the three of us walked down, when we got to my fiance, my dad shook his hand while my mom and I hugged. Then I hugged my dad while my mom and my fiancee hugged. Then I hugged my fiance and we walked to our spot together. I really liked it, and we have some great pictures since my fiance’s parents were both in the shot, standing in their pews behind the four of us.

avatar SpaceySteph July 14, 2011, 3:23 pm

“He actually put my sister’s hand into her fiance’s hand. I think it’s weird.”
Did your sister have a religious wedding? From my experience, it seems that the script for a traditional church wedding is fairly set, so you get stuck with alot more of that weird stuff.

avatar TheOtherMe July 14, 2011, 3:55 pm

My dad walking me down the aisle was actually one of the most memorable moments of my life.

avatar Riefer July 14, 2011, 5:23 pm

Both my sister and I had Catholic weddings. Hers was by choice, mine was to avoid a lot of family drama (like my grandfather leaving my mother out of his will). So I felt somewhat forced into it. But, the Catholic church is fairly open about a lot of this stuff. They don’t care how you walk down the aisle (or if you do at all), they don’t care where people stand, etc. You also get tons of areas where you choose the wording from a selection of 3 or 4 verses… whenever we had the chance to leave the words “God” or “Jesus” out, we did! Hahaha, they were barely mentioned at all through the whole ceremony. And we didn’t have to make any promises about living our lives as Catholics or raising our children Catholic or anything, which is the part that really made me ok with it, since I didn’t want one of my wedding vows to be a lie.

avatar Renee July 14, 2011, 10:06 pm

I’m going to call you out on this. Because, you did make a promise to be Catholic and raise your children Catholic. When you first make an appointment with the priest or deacon, they ask you these questions including if your come to this Catholic marriage under your own free well. They wouldn’t let you proceed with the ceremony, unless you clearly stated this. You agreed to all those thing, you claimed you hadn’t.

Sorry to be defensive on this, but I’m Catholic. I know people may disagree, or misunderstand what that means when it comes to marriage and sexuality. I’m open to listening to everyone here, and respect their views and different experiences.

If don’t believe in Catholicism or even God , that is your choice, yet if you choose be married please don’t fake a religious ceremony ‘to avoid family drama’.

I guess what I’m saying, as a Catholic, if you really don’t want a Catholic wedding please don’t. If we’re not suppose to fake orgasism (from previous posting), then please don’t fake the ceremony to make family members happy!

Now would I be disappointing if my own children (who are young) didn’t want to be Catholic? Yes, but it would be even more wrong/disappointing of them just go through a Catholic marriage to make me happy. That’s not the purpose of Catholic marriage. I live a Catholic marriage, I would of failed them as a parent to think ‘getting married in the Catholic Church’ is about making ME be happy. I’m not the one getting married, they are.

I rather have my children have a civil ceremony, then come to their own free will and have a Catholic ceremony later in their marriage. When I did marriage prep, we always had couples civilly married with children, who wanted marriage in the Church. Having a Church wedding, doesn’t mean ‘big wedding’ it can be very small with just the two of you, a few friends, and the priest/deacon.

Again, I don’t like having to be on the defensive, just wanted to share.

avatar Riefer July 14, 2011, 10:56 pm

Sorry, I agree with you in principle, but I really had no choice. My grandfather would seriously remove my mother from his will. He already did it to one of his sons for getting divorced. He is hard-core religious. My mother can’t afford to retire if she doesn’t get an inheritance from him, and she’s already past 65 and still working. She’s a nurse, which means lots of physical labour, and she just can’t handle it for much longer. So, I agree, people shouldn’t fake religious ceremonies. But what on earth would you have done in that situation? Just let your mother keep working until she drops dead? That’s why I specified my reasons for doing it in my post.

And no, I was never specifically asked if I would raise my children Catholic, or even if I was a practicing Catholic. I was asked for my baptismal certificate, and if I would accept any children that came to me from God (ie. no abortions, which I’m fine with for me personally). They didn’t ask about raising them. I think the Catholic church may be a bit desperate for members right now, and so aren’t being as thorough as they may have been in the past. I live in Canada, and around the time I got married, there were TONS of lawsuits happening, both in Canada and elsewhere, about priests who had molested children. So I think they didn’t want to press their luck.

avatar VoiceOfReason July 15, 2011, 12:30 am

1. When you promised to accept all children who came from God, you made a promise to not use any forms of contraception, its not just abortion
2. The Catholic church has more converts and more members than any other religous organization

3. There are more reported complaints/allegations of sexual abuse in the typical public school district and in other Christian denominations.

4. Your marriage is considered invalid according to canon law in that you were forced into marriage (having to marry in the Church so that your mother would get inheritence). So you really aren’t married……

avatar Riefer July 15, 2011, 9:00 am

1. Nope, I promised what they asked me. They have to be more clear if they want to include all forms of contraception. They were working on the assumption that I understood the question in the way they meant it, which I did not.

2. Ok, but at that time in Canada, attendance was way down (and so were donations). Their worldwide conversion numbers don’t matter to a local parish whose attendance is down.

3. I never said there wasn’t. I said that all the abuse was in the news, and it was affecting people’s attitude towards the Catholic church at the time.

4. I was not forced into marriage, I’m ecstatic about being married. I was forced to have a religious ceremony that I didn’t want. Obviously, I couldn’t care less if my marriage is recognized by the church. It’s recognized by my country, just like everyone else who signs the legal documentation. That’s all I want.

avatar VOICEOFREASON July 15, 2011, 11:12 am

1. Most chemical forms of contraception are actually abortifacants. (Learn some basic biology, please and thank you)
Canon Law: “Whoever in marriage artificially prevents conception, or procures an abortion, commits a most serious sin: the sin of premeditated murder.” [7] We ought to note that Pope Paul VI explicitly referred to this text in footnote number 16 appended to Humanae vitae, no. 14.
See also Catechism of the Catholic Church: 2366 Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. So the Church, which is “on the side of life,”151 teaches that “it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life.”152 “This particular doctrine, expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act.”153
Being that you come from a Catholic family, you really should know better and should be dissapointed in yourself.
4. YOU WERE FORCED INTO A CATHOLIC MARRIAGE, which means at the time of your marriage you were not able to give free consent to the marriage. Your marriage is not valid in the eyes of God, you and your husband are living in a state of fornication which is a grave mortal sin, further compounded by your selfish contraceptive mentality.

Catholics hold marriage in a higher esteem and with more respect then the general public. You participated in a blessed sacrament and should show some respect. You are making a mockery out of one of the oldest most holy sacraments there are.You grandfather was just worried about your soul. Lifetime is temporary, eternity is forever.

avatar LTC039 July 15, 2011, 11:16 am

Ugh. You’re one of those literalist Bible thumpers aren’t you?
From someone who went to Catholic school their whole life, please, get some perspective on the real world.

avatar Desiree July 15, 2011, 11:53 am

You are more interested in proving Riefer wrong than showing her love, which is one of the greatest commandments. I would say shame on you instead of her.

caitie_didnt caitie_didn't July 15, 2011, 12:20 pm

WTF. Sorry, basic biology???

I’m calling you on this nonsense- most forms of contraception are NOT abortefacts and saying that they are is nothing short of bullshit.

And for the record I’m a molecular biologist.

avatar Kate July 15, 2011, 12:22 pm

I believe you would fail “basic biology”. You would in my class, anyway.

avatar Blitzen July 15, 2011, 2:26 pm

“state of fornication” ———> *dies laughing*

Yeah, and chemical contraceptives are not “abortifacants”(which is not a word). I’m a medical intern. Never heard of it.

avatar Riefer July 15, 2011, 2:53 pm

Hey all, thanks for having my back. Just popped in because I remembered a saying that I heard awhile ago…. “judge not lest ye be judged”. Trying to remember who said it. Maybe VOICEOFREASON could remind me?

avatar Myssi July 15, 2011, 5:48 pm

Voice of Reason is a well-catechized Catholic, which doesn’t necessarily make her right about Riefer’s reasons for marrying in a Catholic Church. Really, it’s the Archdiocese’s in which she was married decision to make. ( And VOR probably won’t like that either.)
I cannot make myself convert to Catholicism because I can’t accept tradition as having as much weight as Scripture when Scripture plainly states that “If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.” (Rev. 22:18) There is a LOT of lovely tradition that I can’t find in Scripture, so I’ve stayed a protestant.
Ya’ll have made me really glad I eloped, though.

avatar MissDre July 14, 2011, 3:21 pm

LW, will your parents and your fiance’s parents be making speeches at the reception? My step father stood up next to my mom and my dad and said a little piece of his own at my brother’s wedding. Like you, my mom has only been married to him for about a year and a half. But I know my step dad felt important being able to say a few words about how he cared for my brother and his now-wife.

My mom also wanted to put her husband’s name on the invitations, but since I was the one doing them, I told her absolutely not. As wonderful as her husband is, he’s not the groom’s father and his name had no place on the invite. My mom was hurt, I could tell, but she got over it.

The idea about ushers is great too! But you are under no obligation to include this newcomer in the ceremony. It’s YOUR day. Not your mother’s. But like Wendy suggested, find a small way that you can get him involved.

avatar Vegas SodaPop July 14, 2011, 3:22 pm

If I can ever afford to actually have a wedding, I plan to have both my parents walk me down the aisle – even though they are divorced. I don’t see it as giving me away as much as making sure I don’t run away (j/k)

avatar Yozi July 14, 2011, 3:27 pm

Not Vegas for Vegas SodaPop?

avatar Vegas SodaPop July 14, 2011, 3:47 pm

Nah. I’m one of those selfish assholes who wants to have a destination wedding at the beach. Last thing I want is get stuck here having a “Vegas” wedding. :)

avatar Yozi July 14, 2011, 3:51 pm

Ha, ya I imagine if you live in Vegas, a Vegas wedding would be the last thing on earth you’d want to do. Beach sounds fun!

avatar honeybeenicki July 14, 2011, 3:56 pm

I had both of my parents give me away. I think there are some religions that it is actually traditional for both parents to walk the bride down the aisle.

avatar kerrycontrary July 14, 2011, 3:24 pm

The people I know that have lost their fathers usually walk down the aisle alone, and then have a “mother-daughter” dance instead of a “father-daughter” dance at the reception. If your mother’s husband’s feelings are really hurt maybe you could offer to talk to him before the wedding and explain all of the positive things you said in the letter, like how you are really happy he is in your mom’s life and this is no slight against him.

Also, Wendy, I think you should write a wedding-etiquette book and include these sorts of letters. I know you’ll be super busy after the birth of the baby, but just an idea :)

avatar camille905 July 14, 2011, 3:47 pm

Ooh yeah! I second the wedding etiquette book!

avatar spaceboy761 July 15, 2011, 9:37 am

There are about six million wedding etiquette books out there. Not exactly an underserved market.

avatar AlexisKS July 14, 2011, 7:33 pm

You have to wonder if the mother’s husband’s feelings are hurt at all… this whole drama seems to be based on the mother’s feelings. I don’t mean to read too much into the letter, but it sounds more like the mother is making a fuss out of this to force acceptance of her new husband. As if he can just assume the role of “Bride’s Father” like how a character on a soap opera will suddnely be played by a different actor one day!

avatar Red_Lady July 15, 2011, 5:15 pm

Haha, great analogy!

avatar Lydia July 15, 2011, 3:17 am

As someone who just got engaged, I would totally buy that book!

avatar Red_Lady July 15, 2011, 5:17 pm

Same here. I was at the library the other day looking at all the wedding planning & etiquette books, and none of them really jumped out at me. It was really hard to pick out some to read. But I totally trust and value Wendy’s advice and views, that’d be an easy choice to make!

avatar Kong July 14, 2011, 3:29 pm

I don’t know about anybody else but my mom, with whom I normally have a great relationship, just turned weird during my wedding. She hated everything I liked, thought the food at the reception would be tacky (it was awesome and people are still telling me how awesome it was), and thought wearing turquoise shoes with my dress was the worst thing on earth. In retrospect I think she was dealing with a lot of feelings that she didn’t know how to express, specifically I think she was worried about how my marriage would change our relationship (she’s a single parent and I’m an only child). She’s not good at expressing her feelings and at the time it only made me really angry. I told her flat out one day that she was making the wedding planning awful for me and if she disagreed with the way I wanted to do things she could keep it to herself since it was MY wedding. She became easier to manage after that. Since I don’t consider my dad to have helped in my upbringing at all, I had her walk me down the aisle. We held hands down the aisle and we hugged before I walked the steps up to the altar. I loved it and wouldn’t change a thing.

MissRemy Ally July 14, 2011, 6:00 pm

Ooh, please tell us what the awesome food was :)

avatar Kong July 14, 2011, 11:06 pm

I had a street taco vendor park a taco truck outside of the reception venue and serve tacos to my friends and family. Inside there were churros and candy and Mexican cokes.

avatar fallonthecity July 15, 2011, 12:57 am

That’s awesome!

avatar Bethany July 15, 2011, 9:13 am

Why was I not invited to this?!?! Tacos at a wedding?!?! AWESOME!!!
I wonder if it’s too late for me to get some of those for my wedding…??

avatar mf July 15, 2011, 10:29 am

Churros?! and tacos?! That does sound awesome!

MissRemy Ally July 15, 2011, 2:20 pm

That does indeed sound awesome :) Bet everyone loved it, so original!

avatar SpaceySteph July 14, 2011, 3:33 pm

I am constantly amazed by how much drama weddings create.
I agree that your mom is being childish and that you need to tell her in no uncertain terms that her objection has been noted, but that you are not changing your mind on this. You should tell her the wonderful things about her new husband that you wrote here, but that before she even met this man you had dreamed of having your cousin walk you down the aisle because he’s been like a brother to you.
Offer to talk to her husband to explain it (if Wendy’s guess that some of her objection is from her own feelings of being left out, she’ll turn you down) and if you can think of any even tiny concession you can make, offer it up. I think that putting them on the invite is a good idea (they are helping to pay, after all), as a way of recognizing their contribution without beefing up your wedding party or making the ceremony longer…
Recently I saw an invitation “Bride’s name and Groom’s name, along with their parents, Parents Names, invite you to celebrate their marriage…” You could do the same with “Your name and Your fiance’s name, along with Your mother and her husbands names, invite you to their wedding, etc”

caitie_didnt caitie_didn't July 14, 2011, 3:34 pm

I actually think the LW’s idea to have her cousin walk her down the aisle is a wonderful one- what better way to honour someone who’s played such an important, irreplaceable role in your life?? I also love the idea of having the mom’s husband being an usher. It’s an easy and undemanding role for him to play while still including him.

avatar missarissa July 14, 2011, 3:38 pm

Dammit with this always being the thing I comment on, but its my culture’s (modern?) tradition for both parents to walk the bride half-way down the aisle, then you stop, they lift up your veil and you kiss them (or hug, or whatever) and then you walk up to meet your fiance/he comes down to meet you. The parents are up as part of the ceremony, so they just kind of file in around you to stand behind/next to the officiant. I always thought it was very nice. (also, the groom walks in with both of his parents too, typically.)

This is just the protocol though, missing parents, deceased parents, and divorced parents probably require re-evaluation. But i’ve been to many such weddings and the divorced parents who hate each other put their shit aside for the day and walked their kids down the aisle together.

And its interesting; because my aunt was deceased, my cousin (my aunt’s daugher/my mom’s niece) asked my mom to join my cousin’s father to walk her (my cousin) down the aisle, while my cousin’s step-mom (my cousin’s father’s second wife) was matron of honor.

avatar JB July 14, 2011, 3:39 pm

My parents have been divorced since middle school, and I have a great relationship with both of them. However, a few years back, my mom also asked that I allow her new husband to walk me down the aisle at my wedding. I had only known him about two years at that point also, and had been well out of the house prior to their marriage, so I also did not consider him a stepfather. As I was planning to have my own father walk me down the aisle, I was pretty appalled that my mom would ask such a thing! She said I could have two walkers, instead of one!

Turns out, her husband felt very excluded from all the festivities and was being a big pain in her ass during the entire planning process. She only asked so that she could tell him she had done something about it – she never expected me to say yes!

I compromised by having him hand out programs and act as an usher, along with some other male cousins. Mom’s husband had a role, and my dad and I carried on as usual! Win-win for everyone.

Hope you and your family can come up with a similar plan to resolved the situation! Good luck!

avatar MissDre July 14, 2011, 4:32 pm

This must be a typical mom thing… I mentioned in a previous post that my mom wanted her new husband of only a year to be on the invitation for my brother’s wedding… and my dad is still alive and well! I think it’s just because to these mom’s, their new husband is their whole world and they don’t quite realize that their kids don’t feel the same way.

avatar Emma July 14, 2011, 3:43 pm

In the jewish tradition my family follows each set of parents walk their child down the aisle, even if the couple is divorced because its not about the relationship between the parents is about their child who they created together. In cases where a parent is missing the nearest aunt or uncle steps in. Because it’s tradition you don’t really have to think about it and it subdues any drama that might come of having to chose. Theres enough drama surrounding a wedding already.

avatar spaceboy761 July 14, 2011, 4:03 pm

Not my Jews baby! My wife’s parents are still so embittered from their 1985 divorce that her father initially refused to walk her down the aisle so long as her mother was involved. He suggested that he walk down with his wife, her mother would walk her halfway down the aisle, leave her there for a second (!), and then he would be go back to get her and bring her to the chupah (sp? because I’m Catholic). Less insane heads prevailed and my wife was walked down traditionally, but he was pretty pissed about it the entire time.

Ed: There is still a fisthole in my apartment wall because of this

avatar Colleen July 14, 2011, 4:39 pm

This is how we did our processional, as well: my parents walked in together, my husband’s mom and grandma (both widowed) were escorted by other close family members, the wedding party walked in pairs, and my husband and I walked in together. This could be a good option for LW; that way her mom and her mom’s new husband can share a special moment together and still be very visible as a couple.

LW is asking if there’s room for compromise, and there is, but she didn’t give any indication of being willing to make a compromise. She is being just as firm on her position (“it’s not possible to include him”) as her mom is on hers. With some open-mindedness and creativity, I’m sure they can find a way to recognize that her mother’s husband is significant to her mother, even if he’s not a major figure in LW’s own life.

avatar HmC July 14, 2011, 3:48 pm

Ah, yet *another* blissful wedding anecdote that reinforces my desire to elope. Just what a wedding should be about- overly sensitive bruised egos over meaningless, virtually imagined social interaction problems (here on the part of the mother, not the LW).

Does this guy even want to be part of your wedding? All we hear about is what the mother wants.

avatar Yozi July 14, 2011, 3:59 pm

Yep, everytime I read one of these wedding threads it reaffirms my decision that eloping is the way to go. I think a family wedding would be nice if I could handle family drama with grace, but I can’t and I think I’ll pass.

avatar silver_dragon_girl July 14, 2011, 4:17 pm

I third both of you on this.

avatar HmC July 14, 2011, 4:38 pm

The thing is, I fully endorse the idea of two families coming together and that a wedding is ideally about more than just the couple (assuming the families in question are healthy and *should* be invited/involved). However, the second anyone starts bitching about not being involved enough due to their stupid ego-fueled notion that one role in one wedding on one day defines your relationship with the couple or your status as a person, I just want them to shut the hell up. I’d never pander to that immaturity. I dread the possibility of dealing with it. Graciously accept whatever involvement the couple has extended to you on such a special occasion (if you can afford it). Be happy to be invited at all. Life is too short to create such trivial problems.

avatar honeybeenicki July 14, 2011, 3:57 pm

I had both my mother and father (divorced) walk me down the aisle. I wanted them both to do it because they are both my parents and I didn’t especially care if its “Tradition” to have just the dad.

avatar Steelbird July 14, 2011, 4:10 pm

People might not agree with me but you really can’t just tell your mom to shove it. Ideally, yes, the wedding is just about you and your fiance. Realistically though it is actually about 2 families who are coming together to celebrate a union and everyone wants to feel as important as everyone else. It’s incredibly difficult to balance what you want against what your family wants but try to be sensitive when you talk to your mother about it. You’re having a small ceremony so there’s no room for your mother’s husband to talk during that, but what if you asked him to give a toast during the reception? Or go with Wendy’s suggestion of having him be an usher? Or if the guest list is too small to bother having ushers ask him to escort your mother up the aisle. Ask the two of them to light a candle together and have your fiance’s parents light their own candle. There are all kinds of little things you could ask him to do so that your mother doesn’t feel like you are ignoring his importance in her life but you aren’t pushing him front and center and trying to pretend he’s a bigger part of your life than he really is. When you do speak with your mother about it, offer the suggestion of what you want him to do before you explain to her how much she’s hurt you by acting childish. If you offer the compromise first she won’t go on the defensive immediately and might be willing to really listen to you.

avatar BreezyAM March 30, 2013, 10:39 pm

HE IS NOT FAMILY. He is some guy her mom has been banging about 2 years which according to BGM is too soon to even move in together so come on!

TaraMonster TaraMonster July 14, 2011, 4:13 pm

I don’t know that her cousin didn’t have a significant role in her upbringing. She says he was an older-brother figure, and that could mean so many things. In many ways, I raised my younger brothers, mainly because my parents were unfit, but if they were hypothetically to be escorted down the aisle, they’d likely ask me, their sister. So that doesn’t seem so far fetched to me.

But as to the gender of the person walking me down the aisle, I don’t think it matters. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, because, while we’re not officially engaged, my boyfriend and I have been talking wedding logistics. I almost don’t want him to propose so I can keep daydreaming about dresses and flowers and venues, rather than having to decide on a color scheme and a dress. Almost ;)

For a long time I didn’t want my dad to walk me down the aisle, partly because I was angry with him and partly because my feminist beliefs don’t jive with being “given away,” especially by someone who dropped the ball in so many ways. But my dad would be very hurt, I’ve forgiven him for the pain he’s caused, and I think of it as escorting rather than giving. There won’t be any of that “who gives this woman” stuff either. I’m considering asking both mom and dad to walk me, but I’m worried they’ll attack each other while walking me down the aisle and/or create a tense atmosphere for me. They have had maybe 2 civil conversations in the last 17 years, and have no concern for the happiness of others. My split family is such a huge issue. These people hate each other at Jerry Springer baby daddy levels… I think I’m talking myself out of this right now. Lol.

avatar MiMi July 14, 2011, 4:32 pm

Can the guy tumble at all? You could do a kind of J&K Wedding thing, with your mom mincing rather quickly down the aisle and her new husband somersaulting behind in time to Ludacris’ get out da way..

avatar ele4phant July 14, 2011, 4:44 pm

This one kind of hit a little too close to home. My parents recently divorced, and my father is dating a woman who is trying push close relationships on my brother and I. She’s very nice, and makes my Dad very happy, but its a bit much how much she’s trying to step into that family role already, especially since we are both still very close with our mother. I understand she just wants us to feel at ease and accepted in the wake of all these rapid changes, but there’s no need to rush any sense of affection.

I will be graduating from grad school in about a year, and if my relationship with my boyfriend contiunes as it has been, there is a good probablity we will be getting married in the not too distant future. I am already dreading having to deal with accommodating this person who has just entered my life and having her try to insert herself into a role I am not now, and probably will never be, ready for her to be in. She’s very thin skinned, and I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I already have a mother and I’m not a child, so we will never have a mother-daughter/family sort of relationship. Oh well, I guess we’ll deal with my graduation/wedding when they actually happen.

avatar Ashley July 14, 2011, 5:31 pm

I am having both my dad and stepdad give me away. I am close to both of them and my stepdad has been in my life over ten years. My dad wasn’t thrilled, but I told him that if he didn’t like it, he didn’t have to be apart of it. He’s agreed to and I am VERY excited to have the two most important men (other than my fiance of course) walk me down the aisle!

Heather Heather July 15, 2011, 1:14 am

I’ll be the exact same-have a lot of turbulent history with my dad, but absolutely love him. In the other sense, my stepdad has been in my life for over ten years as well and has done so insanely much for me that it would break my heart not to have him in my wedding significantly. I also feel as though my dad wouldn’t appreciate it (he’s not very fond of my stepdad, call it jealousy, or what have you) but that’s what I plan on doing anyhow.

avatar Princess Bananahammock July 14, 2011, 6:23 pm

My dad died when I was a kid. I wasn’t concerned about gender in making my decision about walking down the aisle. I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to walk alone or whether I wanted my mom to walk me down the aisle. On the one hand, I liked the idea of walking down the aisle alone because my fiance and I made the decision to marry ourselves, based upon our desire to build a new partnership together. On the other hand, I expect that I’ll be pretty emotional and it would be really great to have my mother by my side as I take that big step toward marriage. Ultimately, I decided to ask my mother to walk with me down the aisle and she was, of course, thrilled by my request.

It is a very personal decision. So, no, you aren’t being unreasonable by not asking your stepfather. But I agree, your mother might feel slighted that you asked a cousin rather than her. I may have missed it in the comments, but another idea is to ask your stepfather to make a toast at the reception. As long as he is a tactful guy (sounds like you think he is), a toast from your stepfather about the ever-growing family could be lovely. Congrats and try not to sweat it too much! You can’t please everyone, so you may as well please yourself.

avatar Greebo July 14, 2011, 6:43 pm

This post may get heartily “booed”, but to be honest, I think the LW could be a little more charitable to her mom. Let’s consider this from Mom’s perspective: she lost her husband and raised her little girl apparently largely alone. Since the LW was out of school by the time she remarried, I wonder whether Mom dated much, or put her own social life on hold to better ensure that her daughter came first. When Mom did remarry, it was to a “wonderful man” that LW respects and likes, and who has made her mother very happy. More than that, LW’s “mother and her husband insisted on paying for the venue”, so he’s supporting Mom’s desire to be generous to her daughter.

I understand why LW isn’t having him walk her down the aisle, but did she ever ask her mom why this mattered so much? Maybe it’s nothing more than Mom being a traditionalist–some people are. Or maybe Mom sees Stepdad as a proxy for the “love of her life” that SHE lost, years ago, who won’t be there to see their daughter get married. Maybe Mom wants validation that even though Stepdad isn’t a “dad” to LW, he’s still family. Regardless, telling Mom it’s “offensive” of her to ask for her husband to be acknowledged is, in my book, a bit childish.

I think LW needs to ask stepdad how he feels about this. Apologize to him and Mom if they feel slighted. You’re 25, right? Then be an adult, and act with grace. Invite him to give a toast, be an usher, participate in a unity ceremony–come on, you can give him a 30 second role in this to keep the peace and show them both you appreciate their generosity and kindness.

Incidentally, I wonder how LW knows Mom’s complaining. Because Mom has the same right to confide in siblings or parents that any of us do. Maybe those people took it on themselves to call LW out on her behavior because they’re seeing that maybe–just maybe–LW could be a little more gracious herself. I point this out because there’s nothing in the letter that indicates Mom is inclined to be controlling or dramatic–no comments about monopolizing the flower arrangements, pitching a fit because the people who lived four houses away 12 years ago weren’t invited, demanding a certain ceremony, or otherwise trying to control the wedding.

Again, I’m not saying LW’s stepfather should walk her down the aisle, but her letter makes her sound a bit ungracious and a little immature to me.

Regarding “walking down the aisle” at all–I never liked the tradition or the symbolism, but when I got married, my dad would have been deeply hurt if I hadn’t asked him to escort me. And my mom was too much of a traditionalist to be comfortable walking with him, so my husband walked with my mom, then went back and walked with his mom while his dad escorted his grandmother. (My grandmother was escorted by my brother in law, also an usher, and my sister was my matron of honor.) The ceremony was about 15 minutes long, and I only had 67 people at my wedding and reception.

avatar ele4phant July 15, 2011, 12:53 am

I don’t need my father, or anyone for that matter, to give their permission for me to marry. But, marriage is about more than two individuals getting married, its about joining two families together. I like the sentiment of parents being being asked to give their blessing.

avatar Guy Friday July 15, 2011, 10:16 am

I totally agree with what you wrote. As I was reading through the comments, I kept wondering when SOMEONE was going to ask “Why don’t you just talk to the stepfather?” I mean, the LW seems to like him a lot, or at least get along with him well, so I find it hard to believe that she couldn’t just sit down with him and talk this out a little bit. If he’s the one making a big stink about it, then, yeah, she can worry about it then. But I had this exact same problem with my father regarding my step-mother, and I wasted a lot of time trying to argue with him before I finally sat down with my step-mother, at which point she told me that because my mother was going to be there as well she understood her not having a role beyond “wife of the father of the groom.”

Furthermore, much as I’m not crazy about the whole “he who pays the money makes the rules” concept toward weddings, fair is fair: paying for the venue is no small deal, and while you don’t need to throw rose petals at their feet, making a little extra effort on their part isn’t unreasonable. My fiancee’s parents are paying the lion’s share of our wedding, and while I’ve had to agree to certain details — arrangement of seating at the reception, styles of linens, ensuring a role for a non-pleasant in-law — that I may not be too crazy about, how can I not feel incredibly grateful that they’re giving my fiancee and I the freedom to have the wedding we were both dreaming of (not to mention allowing us to save enough money for a REALLY nice honeymoon in the Virgin Islands :D )? So, yeah, I grin and bear it a little bit, because I’d be getting married in a McDonald’s drive-through if I had to be the one to pay for it! Saying you can’t find SOMETHING to fit your step-father into seems a little close-minded. Wendy found one thing right off the bat; I bet if you sat down with your fiancee and really combed through your events/ceremony, you could easily find 5 other places to insert a little extra to show gratitude to him.

avatar mf July 15, 2011, 11:01 am

I agree with you that the LW should perhaps talk to the stepfather rather than using her mother as a go-between. It would help the LW sort out whether the stepfather is hurt about not having any role in the wedding or whether her mother is simply acting out due to general wedding stress.

But I have to disagree that the LW owes her mom an apology. Maybe Mom does see the stepdad as a proxy for her late husband, but IT’S NOT MOM’S WEDDING nor is it Mom’s right to force that relationship upon her grown daughter. Who you choose (or don’t choose) to walk you down the aisle is a deeply personal decision and I think Mom was overstepping her boundaries to suggest that the stepdad should take that role.

avatar Ginny July 14, 2011, 6:50 pm

Why don’t you have your mother and her husband (as well as the groom’s parental figures) walk in together at the beginning of the wedding, like at the beginning of the processional? The mothers of the bride and groom are usually “seated” at the beginning of the ceremony, either walking the aisle on their own or escorted by an usher/husband/male child/anythehellpersontheywant. So why not include him in the ceremony that way? Also, perhaps consider doing a “first dance” type thing with him at the reception, which can be low-key yet personal since it gives you a chance to talk to him during the whole shenanigan and tell him that you appreciate his place in your mother’s life, his support (monetary and otherwise) of your wedding, and the role he will play in your (possible? not to be too nosy) future children’s lives. Oh, and have fun! it’s your wedding, ultimately you and your husband are the only people who have to walk out of there happy!

avatar Greebo July 14, 2011, 6:54 pm

Incidentally, for a really hair-raising discussion, how do you all feel about the fiance asking his intended’s father for permission to marry? My husband knew better than to ask my father’s permission. Or blessing, if it comes to that. Either I’m an independent adult capable of making my own choices (which I am, and therefore I don’t need permission to marry), or I’m not (in which case I’d either be a child or incompetent and shouldn’t be getting married at all. I carefully avoid the suggestion that I could be property, because, well, just “no”.) But I have heard a lot of different opinions on the subject.

avatar Princess Bananahammock July 14, 2011, 7:07 pm

I’ve noticed that the couples I know tend to be on the same page when it comes to that. My brother-in-law asked my mother for permission before proposing to my sister. She thought that was very gentlemanly of him. I’m sure it never occurred to my fiance to ask my mother for permission, and I would have been pretty put-off if he had. But, as long as the bride and groom are on the same page, then to each their own I guess. My disgust with the tradition is slightly tempered my acknowledging the reality that your in-laws are going to be a big part of your life together. So, (a) you may want to placate them by asking for “permission” as a formality; and (b) you may want to discuss their approval and formally get their blessing for the marriage.

avatar Princess Bananahammock July 14, 2011, 7:08 pm

*by acknowledging

avatar *HmC* July 14, 2011, 8:56 pm

On the other hand, just because a tradition may be rooted in values you disagree with, doesn’t mean that you have to share those exact values. There’s no reason you can’t frame old traditions with more modern values. The institution of marriage itself comes to mind.

My boyfriend belongs to a religion that very highly values marriage as, ideally, an affair involving extended family. They want parental approval (of all parents on both sides), not because the bride or groom are property, but because it nurtures extended family unity, which they recognize as being good for the next generation.

avatar SpyGlassez July 14, 2011, 7:39 pm

I always thought it would be sweet if my BF gives his intentions to my father (i.e. “Mr. SpyGlass, I am going to propose to your daughter”) but I don’t really like the idea of him asking for permission. Plus, if he WERE to ask permission, my dad would laugh for the longest time about the idea of ME asking permission for anything.

avatar silver_dragon_girl July 14, 2011, 8:50 pm

That’s about how I feel. And I’m pretty sure my dad knows it.

avatar mf July 15, 2011, 11:08 am

This is what my fiance did. We both knew that if my dad objected, he would still propose and I would still say yes. He ended up having dinner with both my parents (without me) and they did their blessing even though he didn’t really ask for it. I do think he was relieved that they were on board with it.

I would never require a guy who wanted to marry me to approach my dad first, but I really appreciated it when my fiance did. It was a ballsy thing to do, because my dad is an intimidating guy and tends to be protective of me. And I think it meant a lot to my dad because it showed that my fiance respects my parents and their role in my life.

avatar AKchic July 14, 2011, 8:37 pm

*snort*

Any guy feeling that I am not competent enough to make my own decisions wouldn’t be dating me, let alone at the stage to propose to me.

Asking my father for his blessing would be getting dumped in a heartbeat. My father gets no say in my relationships as he gets no updates on my life.
My mother never agrees with my relationships (she still wants me to get back with my 2nd husband). My current stepfather, well… nobody has ever asked him, so I dunno.
Personally, since I don’t plan on getting married a 3rd time, I don’t see it as an issue for me. It’s an antiquated system that, in my opinion, demeans women.

avatar Bethany July 14, 2011, 8:41 pm

My fiance, and my dad both know that I don’t require anyone’s permission to do anything (I’m a bit strong willed), but my fiance did have a talk with my dad where he told him his intentions and asked for his blessing. My dad is VERY sentimental/sensitive, and he was really happy to have been included in our engagement in that way. My dad is an amazing person and it made me really happy that my fiance did that, just because it made my dad so happy.

avatar SpaceySteph July 14, 2011, 9:16 pm

I don’t know. I don’t really like it, as I said earlier I’m owned by nobody. But my dad is old fashioned and a bit of a romantic (you should see the adorable cards he gives my mom every year for their anniversary- he actually WRITES something in them… I’m lucky if my boyfriend remembers to sign the packing slip from Amazon at our anniversary). I think it would be showing respect to my father to ask for my hand because my father would like it, even though we all know its just a formality and I’m gonna do what I want.
Interestingly, my boyfriends younger sister recently got engaged and both my bf and his father were shocked and appalled that the boyfriend never even discussed it with the father first. So I’m pretty sure my bf will.

avatar GatorGirl July 15, 2011, 9:32 am

My BF will be talking to my mother before the proposal. My mom will probably laugh and tell him to talk to me if he wants to get married, but he is a good southern man and wants to follow tradition. He also plans on talking to his mother before proposing, go make sure we have her blessing as well.

I agree the tradition is basically irrelevant nowadays, but getting married means combining families and having the blessing of both families is important to us. We want to know that we will have the love and support of our families when we embark on this journey to create our own family.

avatar Guy Friday July 15, 2011, 11:22 am

See, I hate — HATE — when people discuss this particular topic and immediately go all feminazi on me (not saying anyone here was, but it’s definitely happened to me before) and equate asking for the fiancee’s father’s blessing as a conversation involving the transfer of property, or that somehow a woman’s rights are being violated somewhere by doing it. When I did it — and I did it because my fiancee said she liked the idea of it — I sat down with both her mom and her dad over dinner (well, theoretically it was dinner; I was so nervous I didn’t eat anything :) ), and I looked them in the eye and answered every question they could think to ask: how we’d meld our faiths together, what my plans were for my career, what my beliefs were on kids and money and life in general, etc. And I didn’t do it for a signed deed to my fiancee; I did it because I wanted them to know that I was marrying their daughter for the right reasons and that I was doing it after having long conversations with my fiancee and making sure she and I were on the same page. Did we need to reassure them of this? No, we didn’t. But why was it wrong to do it? Why does it really matter which one of us alleviated the natural concerns they’d have ANY time one of their children was thinking of marrying someone? And I don’t care what people say about not NEEDING to do it; it may be true, but I’d bet just about anything that married life is a bit easier when you have a good relationship with your in-laws. It’s not the be-all and end-all, but it’s a big help.

Also, I feel like society’s dramatically hypocritical with this whole deal. If the bride-to-be’s parents ask the groom-to-be about it, somehow it’s a statement on women as property. But if the groom’s parents ask the bride-to-be the exact same questions — how are you going to contribute to the relationship? How are you going to raise your kids? Have you guys talked about [insert major pre-wedding discussion topic]? etc. — they’re looked upon as concerned for the well-being of the marriage. Why can’t the bride’s parents be equally concerned without being perceived as being under some Victorian shackling policy of their daughter?

avatar Red_Lady July 15, 2011, 6:34 pm

My fiance told my dad that he was going to propose, and asked if he had any advice he could share. I thought that was a great way of incorporating an old tradition, but getting rid of the out-dated meaning of it. It was pretty funny though, because the night before we got engaged, my parents were talking w/ a neighbor who asked if they thought we’d be getting engaged soon. My mom replied “no, I think (boyfriend) would tell (dad) if he were going to propose” And my dad just kept his mouth shut! :)

avatar Addie Pray July 14, 2011, 8:26 pm

Elope. Wedding drama makes me vomit.

avatar AKchic July 14, 2011, 8:33 pm

In two marriages, not a single person has walked me down the aisle. Not one. When my father called me out of the blue after my second marriage, he tried to guilt trip me about not tracking him down to invite him to either one, let alone ask him to walk me and I flat out told him that not only was his call unwanted, but his guilt trip not even worth his emotional energy because I wasn’t buying into it. He wasn’t around when I was a kid and what he did to me to get me landed in foster care was more than enough mental, emotional and physical scarring than any kid needed. I told him that even if I were to get married again, I would make sure he was on a list of “banned” from the venue, not invited.

I’m a big girl, I’m my own person and nobody owns me. I do not need to be given away like property to my next owner/care taker/protector. I will walk myself to my partner in crime/life and allow the ritualistic bond to happen for all to see. I am not submitting to someone else’s will, but bonding myself to another freely of my own volition. Big difference.

Your mom needs to get over herself. Whether you have accepted her husband to the degree she wants or not is moot. You are an adult and were raised during your young years with your father, so you do remember him. This new male cannot replace him. Not once did you, or your mother (it seems) mention what this new husband feels about the situation. I think your mother is trying to force the “happy family”, “happy father/daughter” relationship and she needs to realize that it isn’t going to happen like that.
*hugs* I got a new stepfather last summer. They married the day after my birthday (prompting a few “Who’s Your Daddy” jokes from me). Luckily, I like the guy my mom married. I may not call him “Dad”, but he is better than my biological father, and a better guy than my mom married when I was younger (he died when I was 12).

katie katie July 14, 2011, 10:45 pm

LW, i think that you should ask your mom exactly why she feels the way she does. is it because SHE wants him to be a part of the ceremony? is it because HE wants to be? is it because she feels that “tradition” dictates the father figure to walk you down the aisle? is it because she is thinking that this man is your new dad? maybe if you got to the root of her becoming a little crazy about this one subject, you could talk it out and maybe she will understand where you are coming from, as well. you dont mention if this is the only thing she is being crazy and controlling about, but i have to assume this is the only thing, which makes me think that there is an underlying issue that is causing all this. for all you know, she is so broken up over the fact that your real father won’t be there to walk you down, that this man is (to her) the only logical replacement. that in a way, your letting your real father down by not picking your “stand in” father that your mom has found.

im not saying that you are actually letting your real dad down, or that you should feel bad about your decisions or anything like that, but maybe your mom is freaking out a little bit about the whole thing and looking at it in a skewed way. maybe if you explained to her the reasoning behind your picking richard, and told her that you actually do like her new husband (maybe she thinks this means you hate him?) she will understand that it isn’t a personal attack at her, or her new marriage, or her new husband. you have good reasons for picking your cousin, and for not picking your wife’s new husband, and if she has any logic or reason in her, if she can see it from your point of view, she has to agree with you.

i dont think that what she is doing is right, and i dont think that you should concede to her wishes. but i do think that maybe there is more going on. whether you find it out or not, have the wedding that you want. it is your day, and no one should tell you how it should go.

Chaotonic Chaotonic July 15, 2011, 7:22 am

Honestly, I walked myself down the aisle. I’ve been living independently since I was 17, and supporting myself since I was pre-teen. If I were to have had anyone walk me down the aisle it would have been a friend that’s supported me through thick and thin. I know my biological father was a little off-put and my grandfathers were too that I didn’t ask them, but I wasn’t close to them, but at the end of the day I was still married and they bared no grudges.
Its unacceptable that you’re mother is blowing this out of proportion, while they insisted to pay for the venue you are under no obligation to change your plans. I think its sweet that you’re having someone you’re extremely close to walk you down the aisle, especially since he knows and understands that its usually reserved for the father, so its extra special. My advice is to flat out tell her that you’re not close to her new husband and therefore would rather have so and so do this instead. If she continues to rave about it to your family members, so be it, I’m sure they probably understand where you’re coming from in your decisions.

Weddings are a sham!

avatar mf July 15, 2011, 10:11 am

Hey Wendy, I noticed a typo: second line, first paragraph, “You need her down…” I’m guessing it should be “you need to talk her down” or something like that.

P.S. The wedding posts are always my favorites!

avatar Red_Lady July 15, 2011, 6:36 pm

Or “sit her down”?

Skyblossom Skyblossom July 15, 2011, 10:42 am

I walked down the aisle with my fiance. We were married in the Catholic Church and our priest thought it was very appropriate for the bride and groom to present themselves together for marriage. Because we were walking down the aisle together the groomsmen walked down the aisle with the bridesmaids. We got the idea from my dad who said one of the nicest weddings he had ever attended had the bride and groom walk down the aisle together.

avatar Billie July 15, 2011, 1:06 pm

I had my (step)father [who I call "dad"] from my mother’s second marriage walk me down the aisle at my wedding because he was the man who raised me. [My own father has been out of the picture since I was 5].

The most important thing about the person who gives you away is what you feel for them. In my own experience, having my dad walk me down the aisle brought us much closer and cemented something for us. It was a precious moment.

All that being said, weddings are a ton of drama and mothers bring on the worst kind of drama. My mom threw a fit because my husband and I chose to spend the night before our wedding together and she wanted to spend the night with me. She also threw a fit (and recruited other family members to throw subsequent fits) when I wanted to invite my stepdad’s daughter to the wedding (because she blamed her for the demise of their marriage.)

This is a time that defines you AWAY from your parents, and you should let it be such. Don’t let your mother treat you like a child… you are getting married and you have your own family now!

avatar Sheila Gregoire July 15, 2011, 5:55 pm

I had my mother walk me down the aisle. My father left when I was 2, and I only had a very sporadic relationship with him. I wanted to acknowledge my mother as the one who raised me.

I was originally going to ask my uncle, who played the role of father figure in my life, but ultimately I realized that my mom raised me, so it should be her.

I agree about telling the mother in this instance that she needs to butt out. She’s being ridiculous. I hope when my children get married I’m gracious enough to let them have the wedding they want!

avatar Capsu78 July 15, 2011, 6:01 pm

I have walked both a step daughter and a daughter down the aisle.
In the case of my step daughter, as per her wishes, I walked her to the front of the pew, had a moment with her and allwed her birth dad to take her the final steps.
No drama, no slights- just accomadating a large blended family as we have through dance recitals, graduations etc through the years… I have been told I should be nominated for “Step Dad of the Year”, but honest to God, all I did was listen and follow “her wishes” and the rest just happened.
Just walked her younger sister down the aisle last month, opening up a slot for my son in law to walk my wife down the aisle. Pleased to report zero drama for that wedding as well. I take it for granted that this family stuff comes easy for me, but reading some of the above stories, I am wise enough to be thankful for how my situation has played out.

avatar mikey July 15, 2011, 9:17 pm

Those who refuse to be walked down the aisle because it smacks of ownership- so don’t call it being “given away.” Those of you who walk yourselves down the aisle- I guess I feel sorry for you. There’s no one in your life who means enough to you to have them escort you in this ceremony? That doesn’t speak well for your ability to form a close bond with the person you’re marrying. As for the women who walked herself down the aisle *twice*- I guess that speaks for itself! ;-)

avatar Ali July 16, 2011, 12:50 am

Who walks the groom down the aisle, mikey?

avatar Kelly July 15, 2011, 10:44 pm

What’s with all the insecurity in so many of these comments? Yes, I ‘m sure you’re all big girls, independent, can take care of yourselves and so on. Why bother with any wedding ceremony at all? Isn’t marriage just an antiquated notion any way?

avatar echo July 16, 2011, 12:41 am

I guarantee step-father doesn’t want to do any of this stuff anyway. He probably doesn’t even want to attend.

avatar Sarah July 16, 2011, 4:44 pm

When my mom passed away 6 months before our wedding (father left the picture several years prior) I asked her sister, my aunt, to do the honor. Glad I did!

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