Tuesday, March 2, 2010

who's going to walk me down the aisle...?

Hey ESB,

I'm a new reader and I have to say, I adore your blog. All of the comments and responses are so heartfelt and REAL. Which is what prompted me to write to you about my own wedding blahs.

My family is very complicated. I was adopted by my maternal grandparents when I was two years old. I met my biological father when I was fifteen. Since then, he and I have formed a very good relationship. He's actually selling his house to me, which has been in the family for 7 generations, and he's giving me a killer deal. He's very calm and level headed about things and I'm proud of the bond we have formed.

However, my mother and my aunt HATE him. They don't realize that people can change and that he's not the person they knew 25 years ago. They bad talk him constantly in front of me, even though they have not spoken with him in ages. It's very awkward for me and I usually just wind up looking down at my nails, hoping to get sucked into a black hole. It doesn't help that he recently married a woman that went to high school with my mom. Somehow, this affects my mother.

To make it even better, I never really lived with my mom. I lived with my grandparents until my grandfather died and then I tried to live with her, but she sent me to live with our horse trainer in Ohio during the summers and during the school year, I stayed most nights at my friends house or would do what I called the Ping-pong, which was wake up at her house, go to school, my aunt pick me up that night, I spend the night there, wake up at my aunt's, go to school, my mom would pick me up from school....you get the picture...until finally, my aunt and uncle asked if I would just want to live with them.

So, to me, I have 4 mom's- my biological mom, my grandmother who adopted me, my aunt who raised me from 15-18, and my step-mom.
And I have 3 dad's-my biological dad, my grandfather (who passed away when I was eleven or twelve) and my uncle.

I'm dreading the awkwardness of my wedding. My fiance's family is complicated too, but they all suck it up and get along and are adults about things.

And I'm mainly worried about who's going to walk me down the aisle. Do I ask my uncle who has been there for me since I was a baby? Or do I ask my dad who has been there for me for going on eleven years and has done everything he can to be a good dad since I've met him? Do I ask them both and deal with the awkward vibe passing between them? Do I apologize to both of them and walk myself down the aisle?

This whole situation is really bumming me out. Please help!!

Thank you,


Lady, I say you've got two options:

1. Walk down the aisle your very own self** (or on the arm of your intended). Simple. Badass. Done.

2. Ask who you want to ask. And ask the other guy to give a speech. That way they will both feel important and dad-ish.

Under no circumstances do you owe anyone an apology. 

In fact, if your mom gives you any more shit about your dad I suggest that you remind her she was the one who had a fucking baby with him in the first place.


(Photo by Lukas Wierzbowski via Design For Mankind) 

*I made up a name again. This is some heavy shit. Plus it's fun to make up names. 

** I went this route because frankly neither my father nor I wanted to perpetrate the notion that I was his property to be "given away." But I will spare you the synopsis of my undergraduate English thesis.

***UPDATE: Christina doesn't think she's an Alicia. And she has a blog. And she said she doesn't mind if I link to it.***


  1. I'm going to have to agree with ESB. Do what you want. If walking down by yourself makes everything easier on you, do that. But only if it really will make you happy. If not, ask one of the men in your life, ask two, hell, ask them all and you can conga line down the aisle if that makes you happy.

  2. I had the my-two-dads situation. I ended up having both of them walk me... although I did not get married in a church. I had one walk me TO the aisle and the other walked me down the aisle. There was no actual "who gives this woman" stuff. Instead, my father hugged me and sat down. Then our officiant did a "group approval" kind of thing we asked him to do, where we had all attendees say they would support the marriage.

    Oh... and I didn't tell my two dads what we were doing until the rehearsal. I basically said, "This is what we're doing... if you have a problem with it, then you can stand down."

    Hang in there!!

  3. I say, walk with your husband-to-be. You're making a new family now, embrace it!

  4. oh, esb, no shaming for unplanned pregnancies!

    Alcia, it sounds to me like asking both your uncle & your biological dad would be a great solution, if--and only if--that would make you happy. And find some way to honor your grandfather if that feels important to you.

    Walking on the arm of your intended, or rocking it solo, are also equally awesome options.

    Coming from a not dis-similar family background myself, you have my empathy. No matter what, do what will make *you* happy. Everyone else can, and will, STFU and party for you & your day.

  5. esb, I had never thought of blaming my mum for doing it with my dad then telling me for my whol life what a shit-head he is. THIS IS THE BEST IDEA EVER! Thank you.

    As for the actual reason for this post, eff your mum. My mum is devastated SHE didnt walk me down the aisle. But I wanted my dad, who in the past 8 years since I've got to know him has done nothing but be a wonderful father and apologise for not being around for so long.


    Also, your uncle seems like a pretty cool dude, he sounds like the kind of guy that can see through the BS family stuff that comes with weddings and probably wouldn't mind figuratively stepping aside for Dad to walk you.
    (As you said its your mum and aunt who hate your dad - you didnt mention the uncle)

  6. I'm with ESB. Do what you want. Though, trouble is, sometimes knowing what you want is easier said than done. But I think accepting that you will do what you want will help make it clearer, if that makes sense.

    And I am also with you. I mean, I don't go around giving random shame to people with unplanned pregnancies. (not that the reader ever said it was unplanned.) BUT I also hope I will never go around giving shit to my offspring for having a relationship with their biological family, no matter what my 25 year old beef with said family member may be. And if I do? I would like to be reminded. So.

  7. Me too, I agree with ESB. My mum hates my dad, my dad wasn't around when I was a kid, my mum did everything for me, but my dad is making an effort now, my mum says bad stuff about my dad, my mum annoys me but I love her, I thought I hated my dad but I love him too really...I didn't want any man "giving me away" and I didn't want actually anyone giving me away even if they wanted too...so I held my boy's hand and we walked down together and it was SPECTACULAR;)

    P.S. I told both my mum and dad that they could give a speech if they wanted and neither did but they seemed haapy in the end and included (I mentioned both of them in my speech in different ways and they liked that).

  8. My father is currently unwilling to attend my wedding for it is such an extravagance.

    I am looking forward to walking alone.

  9. I'd say it's 2010 and not 1843 and it's not like you're a piece of property transferring hands, so...walk down the aisle yourself.

  10. Oh my god yes. I walked down the aisle myself, with my two best friends (bridesmaids) behind me and a cute little girl in front of me. My dad understood -- he raised me to be independent! Please don't stress about what other people think!

  11. try to block out all of the "they'll think this" and "this person will be offended"s and pick who you want. this may mean picking noone, like esb said. that's a personal choice- which is more painful, picking from among them or walking alone? it's a different decision for everyone.

    my husband is in a siutation where he feels like he has 3 moms- and it's a point of contention in the family. he was able to think it through without the family-enforced-ideas of what is right, and without the culturally-enforced-ideas of what should happen, and just gave them each a different role in the wedding that made sense to him.

    you have two men to pick from- maybe one is more of a walk-down-the-aisle-dad to you, and the other is more of a first-dance-dad? or a make-a-toast-dad? or a sing-a-song-dad?

  12. I love all of this so much. I have a twisted, effed up family too and it's so hard to decide between what you're obligated to in order to save tears and anger, and what you want to do.
    My mom left when my brother and I were babies. My dad raised us with my step-mom. They divorced when I was 17. Step-mom and I are still realllllllly close. Biological mom now wants to be in our lives, she was so naive and young. Stepmom is my mom, but the introductions are difficult. Step-mom understands, and I make sure to give her credit every chance I can for making me the awesome woman I am today. Add to that, my Grandma was a huge part of our lives. I'm having Dad and Grandma walk me down the aisle, although I'd really like my Stepmom to do it. It's not fair to anyone, but I don't want to piss anyone off and cause any unnecessary scenes at our wedding. I will give a speech that honors my stepmom the way she should be honored, and my biological mom will still be a guest. It's so tangled and confusing. You'll figure out what's best for you to have sane mind and body on your big day. And it will work out lovely whether you plan it that way or not.
    I agree with ESB. And I love the advice about throwing it back on them, bravo!

  13. I agree that you need to figure out exactly what *you* really want. I also agree with jamie that that is easier said than done, but it's important. Walking yourself down the aisle is wonderful, I loved it. I also loved it when Danae did it.

  14. I wrote on my blog about walking down the aisle alone- it was one of my favorite moments of the wedding. http://suburbaliciousliving.blogspot.com/2009/10/walking-in.html

    I did what I wanted and it made me happy. I think it made my mom a little sad, but she did a reading, and that was that. Do what is going to make your wedding just right for you and your partner.

  15. I concur with others: Do what feels comfortable.

    For myself, I entered the church alone and met my husband halfway to finish the walk. So in essence, we entered this new chapter together.

  16. 1) he & i
    2) my dog to him to start our own little family.
    3) i don't do family bs politics. these are adults that made their own poor decisions and you, my love, should not continue to be ping ponged around any more. don't let them treat you like a child in the middle of their bad behaviour.

    have a super lovely wedding & joyous life.

  17. from mandy:
    my comments never show up!

    I know, not a big deal...they're not even that witty, but I've only gotten the guts to comment on esb maybe 3 times and when I hit post, they just disappear!

    Anyway, I'm totally feeling the 'who'll walk me down the aisle' quandary, so I just wanted to email you my response and you can do with it what you will...

    I walked myself down the aisle too (which we rode a bike to) and loved it. :) But also? Well, we didn't invite my mom or stepdad. We'd only recently gone through some serious, serious bullshit and neither my husband or I were ready to have them there. Not that I'm suggesting the reader go THAT route, but our decision did come down to visualizing the day, imagining the different scenarios (them there, them not there), and going with our gut feelings.

    And, you know? Nobody there begrudged us for our decision. We were enveloped in love by our friends and family and had absolutely no feelings of 'shouldas.'

    Thanks lady, totally dig the blog!

  18. OOOhhhh, I love Danae's idea in addition to the idea of walking by yourself. If you have a trusted girlfriend, Alicia, ask her to walk with you? I think if I were in your shoes, I'd ask my best friend to walk with me. I would like to give you a hug though, because i have also experienced the no-fun times of having parents/family members dis other family members. Boy is it uncomfortable. Tell them to grow up.

  19. "alicia", I am walking myself down the aisle for my wedding this summer. My family dynamic is complicated, (not as complicated as yours)and I thought about what I wanted, it is to walk my damn self down the aisle. I'm not 18, nor it is 1950, no one is giving me away. However, go with your heart/gut, and remind them all you didn't pick the situation you were born into, but are making the best of it aka suck it and grow up.

  20. oh dear. that sounds even more complicated than my family.
    i love how many people commented with great ideas and solutions. i am sending all the best that everyone will behave and will have fun together on your special day.

  21. It's what feels right to you. You can walk alone or with both of them, or you can pick the one you want. Either way, explain it nicely to everyone and they should be fine with it.

  22. I say have both of them walk you down the aisle. A friend of mine got married a few years ago and she had her father (who hasn't always been the greatest) and her step-father walk her down the aisle and it was lovely.

    As for your mom, it sounds to me like she is in no place to be judging someone. Simply explain to her that you understand that she can't get over what he used to be like but if she refuses to respect that you have and that you want him in your life that you'd prefer it if she stopped bad mouthing him in front of you as it makes you uncomfortable. Not too mention it's extremely immature.

    And if anyone has a problem with the decisions you make tell them to SUCK IT. It's your wedding, your life. Not theirs!

  23. I walked myself. I love my father, but our relationship is difficult and he was NOT the person I wanted to share that very, very intense time with.

    My thinking was: I chose this man, I chose marriage, this is serious and I want to take responsibility for this decision. It wasn't about excluding anyone and once I explained it that way to my parents, they were completely supportive.

    It was an amazing experience, I loved it. It let me really focus on David and on my emotions.

  24. ok this is too eerrie. i was JUST thinking of submitting the same question. thank you alicia for asking. i have a very similiar family and thank you too ESB, i will be the badass walking down the aisle with the person who raise me the best...me!

  25. You guys are AMAZING! I just checked the blog after being away for a few days and noticed that you all had responded to my post. I am sooo not an Alicia, by the way, ESB! Hahahah!

    Thank you all so much for responding, I'm going to read every comment from y'all when I get back from lunch!

  26. Ok, here goes. First of all, I'd like to say thank you all for your advice. Y'all have some really good points and I appreciate your ideas. Some really made me smile! Also, it's nice to have an outside perspective and feel like I have someone (multiple someones!) in my corner.

    I feel the need to mention that my mom is not an evil person-just one that tends to get a little self-involved from time to time, but hey, I'm guilty of that, too. I do, however, agree that she should put things behind her and trust me, ESB, those exact words you suggested have come out of my mouth before! I find it hard to bite my tongue about something that I consider so juvenile. But I do love her, which just adds to the stickiness of the situation. It would be much easier if I could just tell her to eat a dick and not feel guilty about it later.

    I guess I never really thought of being "given away" as being "property", but it makes sense. I guess I just don't know much about weddings and I'm not religious whatsoever. We are actually going to get hitched at the courthouse prior to our actual "wedding" so that my fiance's grandfather can marry us at the ceremony. We want it to be short, simple, and sincere. And since neither of us are religious, a ton of praying and praising would be incredibly awkward for both of us.

    Really liked the idea of having one guy walk me down the aisle and one guy do the father/daughter dance thing but I've kind of decided to do a family dance instead. Get us all out there shaking our asses to Family Affair by Sly and the Family Stone or something like that. Despite how dysfunctional our families are, we still dig 'em and we're close with each others, so this seemed like a good opportunity to eliminate a potentially awkward situation.

    If I asked either of them to give a speech they'd absolutely die. They are both shy as hell and soft spoken. I don't think public speaking would be right for them.

    And Brigitta, you're absolutely right. My uncle is the coolest dude ever. You have no idea.

    Thanks again y'all. I don't know what I'll decide, but I'll definitely let y'all know when I do. Love, C