Q: My parents have been divorced for over 10 years now, I have become really close with my step father, he’s basically been my father since I can remember. I am now getting married in June to the man of my dreams, my mother and step father are paying for the entire wedding, yet my real father wants the glory of walking me down the aisle. He’s never been there for me, yet he still expects to be the one giving me away. What do I do?
A: Congratulations on your upcoming marriage. Regarding your biological father, you have three choices:
1. Explain that you are thrilled he will be attending your wedding, but that you have asked your step-father to walk you down the aisle.
2. Offer your father an alternative honor, such as reciting a prayer or blessing as part of the ceremony.
3. Have your father walk you 1/3 of the way down the aisle, meet your mother and step-father at this point and they escort you the next third, and have your fiancé meet you for the last third so that you approach the alter together. (This “hand off” can also be done in halves with your mother and step-father bringing you all the way to the alter.)
No matter what you and your fiancé decide, be sure to sit down and speak with your father well in advance of the wedding. Weddings, while happy occasions, can also be very emotional. Without knowing any of the details, I am guessing that your father may feel short-changed by the divorce and maybe even a little resentful that your step-father had the privilege of watching your grow day-by-day. (Many men have a hard enough time relating to women, let alone their own daughters.) Finances and history aside, this is your opportunity to set the tone for your relationship with your father going forward as an adult. Good luck.
Jodi R. R. Smith is a nationally known etiquette expert and author. She is the president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. You are invited to email her your etiquette emergencies at Salem@Mannersmith.com