My Three Dads

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bride with two dads down aisle
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Q: My 3rd husband of 18 years, who is also the stepfather of my 28 year old daughter since she was 9 years old, has been told he can't wear a tuxedo at her wedding. Her biological father is out of the picture and my daughter was adopted by her current father, my 2nd husband, to whom I was married t... read more

Q: My 3rd husband of 18 years, who is also the stepfather of my 28 year old daughter since she was 9 years old, has been told he can’t wear a tuxedo at her wedding. Her biological father is out of the picture and my daughter was adopted by her current father, my 2nd husband, to whom I was married to for 5 years. She said it is only right for her official adoptive father to wear a tuxedo and not her stepfather. She said it would be too confusing. I think this is wrong and inappropriate. Should her step-father, my current husband, wear a tuxedo or not? Your opinion is highly appreciated and I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.

A: It is so true that even happy occasions bring with them stress. But do not worry; I do have answers for you. If I understand the situation correctly, your daughter’s biological father is not available and/or invited. She was adopted by your second husband and has been the step-daughter of your third husband. How you handle this situation depends on a few factors. You and she should consider:

Who is paying for the wedding? Who is walking the bride down the aisle? Is this a day or an evening wedding – formal or informal? Which gentleman does the bride feel closer to?
Did she have an ongoing relationship with her adoptive dad even after you married her step-father? Which gentlemen from the groom’s side will be wearing tuxedos?

This issue may have nothing to do with the actual men and more to do with your daughter not wanting to feel obligated to explain her family situation. Whatever the reason, you and she need to find a calm time to talk so that you can find the root of the issue. The reality is that all, some or none of the men can wear tuxedos (depending on the type of wedding) and still be proper.

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

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