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Reader Questions: Special Roles for Dad and for Stepdad

By January 31, 2013

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A reader asks:

My stepdaughter wants to have both her dad and stepdad walk her down the aisle. She has had trying relationships w/ both growing up, but is close now with both. Her dad, my husband, has always feared she would want stepdad to walk her and has said if she does, he won't be there. We don't get along w/ stepdad, as he has caused a lot of problems in the past.

Please don't give me the "it's her day excuse"! It's not just HER day, it's her fiance's day, the parents' day, etc. She understands how we feel about stepdad, yet she still wants to present the idea to dad. I've warned her it won't go well. Not only that, but most of all, he will be hurt! Is there something else I can suggest to her that will be just as special and meaningful for stepdad w/out slighting dad?

It's easy for a wife to see her husband as the hero of a situation, or as the only victim. Is the bride being passive aggressive and trying to avenge old wounds by insisting that stepdad have this equal role? Or is she trying to honestly represent that both of these men helped raise her and played an equal role in making herself who she is today? It's hard to know. But here's what you should know - inserting yourself into this situation won't help anyone, least of all yourself.

When your husband inevitably asks your advice, the best answer you can give him is, "Pick your battles." Is this really the most important thing to him? Would he rather that he do the traditional walk-down-the-aisle while the stepdad has the father-daughter dance? Does he want to jeopardize his finally smooth relationship with his daughter by putting his foot down on this?

If there are any brides reading this who find themselves in similar situations, there are a few ways to honor stepparents. When the minister or officiant asks, "Who gives this woman to this man?" all parents can respond in unison, "We do." The father-daughter dance can become a parents' dance. Be sure to include stepparents in the "who's who" section of your wedding program. You could also have them read the wedding readings during the ceremony. Lastly, if there is remarriage on both sides, make sure to treat them all the same. This is not the time to make a point.


February 6, 2013 at 4:42 pm
(1) Cynthia says:

As an officiant I encourage people to step into the 21st century. Asking Who gives this woman is completely passe. I would love to see all families honored as the roots that created these two people who are joining to form a new family.

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