Her father is ruining her wedding

"Make your own decisions about the ceremony, since that’s your prerogative, and then accept that it’s up to him whether to show up, opt out, act up or sit wherever."

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March 5, 2021 - 10:52 AM

Dear Carolyn: I’m getting married this year. Of course I’d always planned to have my dad walk me down the aisle, but last year we all found out he’d been cheating on my mom. They’re in the process of divorcing.

My mom has been trying hard to hold her head up and work through the betrayal, but she is devastated, and so am I. It was hard finding out my father isn’t the man I thought he was.

We made it clear that his affair partner was not invited, and after some painful discussions he accepted it. My fiance and I decided that after that betrayal of his own marriage vows, we don’t want my father to play any part in our wedding ceremony whatsoever, beyond attending, of course.

I broke the news to my father and he was furious. He threatened to boycott our wedding. I was wavering but my fiance said this is nonnegotiable for him. He suggested letting HIS father walk me down the aisle while my mom walks him down the aisle. I think that’s a good compromise since we started dating 10 years ago, in high school, and love each other’s parents.

My father is even unhappier with this compromise and said he’ll just come in after the procession is over and sit in the back of the church rather than in the pew we reserved for him. We don’t want that, but we also don’t want to give in to his blackmail.

Don’t you think that after what he did, my dad should just suck it up and cooperate with us?

— Devastated

Carolyn HaxCourtesy photo

Devastated: What your dad “should” do is utterly moot. He’s an adult who controls his own actions. (Or fails to control.)

Make your own decisions about the ceremony, since that’s your prerogative, and then accept that it’s up to him whether to show up, opt out, act up or sit wherever.

As for those plans:

1. Your fiance’s seeing something about your family as “nonnegotiable” gives me hives. Please think hard about why he feels entitled to draw hard lines on your relationship with Dad.

2. I can see the “aww” value of the giving-away — I’ll defend everyone’s right to their preferences, even though I’ve become a skeptic myself — but I think we can agree your dad obliterated that aww. So instead of trying to salvage the nostalgia, why not just give yourselves to each other? You’re adults. Walk the aisle accordingly.

Readers say:

•If you want someone to walk you down the aisle, then why not your mom?

•I am a professional celebrant and I see fewer brides being “walked” by their fathers and more walking on their own, just like the grooms. This is a remnant of an outmoded tradition of the bride as her father’s property (chattel) being handed over to her husband. Just stop it.

•My dad cheated, too. It is not unreasonable to be mad at him, or for your loyalty to be with your mother. But it was his vow to your mom that he broke, not his vow to you. And you never know what is really going on in a marriage, even your own parents’. Be wary of destroying your relationship with him out of a sense of outrage on your mother’s behalf.

Write to Carolyn Hax at [email protected]. Get her column delivered to your inbox each morning at wapo.st/haxpost.

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