Q: I’m getting married in a year but I’m starting the preparations now. I’m at a loss how to handle walking down the aisle. I have a dad and a bonusdad I love. Although they get along great, I think it will really upset my dad if I ask them both to walk with me. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. What’s good ex-etiquette?
A: First, how fortunate you are that you have two men who have worked together to raise you. But even when parents and bonusparents get along, you can see the children can still feel as if they are in the middle. Hopefully I can offer a few ideas that will help you make the decision.
As you mentioned, your dad and bonusdad could both walk you down the aisle, but if you feel this would hurt your dad’s feelings, then there are other ways to approach it.
My own daughter asked her bonusdad to walk her halfway to where her dad sat waiting, then he took her arm and walked her the rest of the way, ultimately “giving her away.” Her dad then sat in the front row for the rest of the ceremony and her bonusdad sat where her dad originally sat. I’ve seen the father of the bride walk, while the bonusdad was a sort of “greeter,” and the bonusmom oversaw the guestbook. Truthfully, there are all sorts of responsibilities you can assign to bonusparents that show them how much you care while reserving the official walk for dad. I’ve even seen a bonusdad be an usher and a groomsman.
If you decide that your bonusdad will not officially participate in the ceremony, you can assign him other responsibilities that will demonstrate how you feel. A special toast at the reception thanking him for his support is always lovely. I’ve also seen the father of the bride walk the bride down the aisle, but when it came to the father daughter dance, begin the dance with dad, then allow her bonusdad to finish the dance with her. It was done tastefully, with a pause and an offer of cooperation. The bonusdad did not cut in on the dance. That might be perceived a little differently.
Ultimately, it’s up to you. You can follow tradition or set a new precedent. There can always be a tribute somewhere in the ceremony or at the reception to clarify how you feel. Try to enjoy this. Planning a wedding can be stressful. Sounds like you have lots of help. That’s good ex-etiquette.
Jann Blackstone is the author of “Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation,” and the founder of Bonus Families, bonusfamilies.com. ©2020 Jann Blackstone Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.