How to tell dad that another man is walking you down the aisle
Thanks to Jenna for uploading this to the Flickr pool | Photo by Keira Lemonis
My parents were divorced when I was very young, and a family friend stepped in to take my father's place in my life. I still see this man as a father figure, more so one than my biological father. The other man who helped raise me is gay, and at this point in his life knows he isn't going to have any children, and sees my brother and I as his children instead. When I asked he agreed to walk me down the aisle, but I don't know how to break that to my biological father, who I DON'T want to walk me down the aisle. Period.

How do I tell my biological father that another man who did more raising of me is going to walk me down the aisle instead of him? -Ellie

Ellie, I think it's wonderful that you've chosen the man who you feel is a positive father figure in your life to walk you down the aisle. Walking someone down their wedding aisle is privilege, not a blood right — one that you feel this Other Dad clearly earned in his role raising you.

As for how to break it down for bio-dad, here's my advice…

I think the best tactic to use when telling bio-dad is to make it less about “You're not walking me down the aisle, Dad” and more about “I've chosen Other Dad to walk me down the aisle.”

For all you know, your father may be relieved (some absent fathers find the whole thing awkward), but if he persists with questions — focus on the positive reasoning behind choosing Other Dad, rather than the negative reasons why you're not choosing bio-dad.

If bio-dad keeps trying to turn the conversation to “why not me?,” keep focusing on the positives of why you chose Other Dad. Pick a particular shared memory with Other Dad to share with bio-dad (ie “I knew on one of my and Other Dad's mountain walks that this would be just right”) instead of a negative against bio-dad (ie “You were hardly even around when I was growing up, Dad — of course I don't want you walking me down the aisle!”)

Additionally, you could create a different role for bio-dad in the ceremony — he could do a reading or start the ring warming or lead a song. If you opt for this tactic, it's less about “I don't want you walking me down the aisle,” and more about “I envision this other role for you instead.”

The important thing is to focus less on what you're denying him, and more on why it feels important to you to honor Other Dad. If the conversation starts to slide off the rails, try some Copy ‘n' Paste Conflict Resolution and politely end the conversation — ie, “While I wish I could change how you feel, I respect that we all have different opinions about weddings … and I hope you know that despite this disagreement, it doesn't change how much I love you! I'm so looking forward to seeing you at our wedding.” *click*

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Comments on How to tell dad that another man is walking you down the aisle

  1. Thank you for this! I’ve been wondering how I should break it to my “never-there” bio-dad that my mother was going to be walking me down the aisle. Now I can do it with the least amount of drama possible.

  2. It was hard to tell my dad that no one was walking me down the aisle- my husband was going to meet me halfway- but he was in the camp of relieved. We’ve just had so much drama over the years, I think it released him from feeling too responsible during the wedding. I did ask him to do a reading though, and it was a great one that he chose.

    My mom, on the other hand, was pretty much mortified that no one was walking with me, to the point of asking my brother FOR ME if he’d do it but I intercepted in time, lol.

    Best of luck to everyone in this situation!

    • Thank you! This is a life saver. I have been distraught on how I wanted to walk down the isle. I don’t believe anyone can give me away, but my fiance and I both want the dress a secret until the walk. This solves every problem. Thanks!

  3. My dad left my mom 6 months ago after 30 years of marriage…we’ve never been close, and I always thought of both of my parents walking me down the aisle….now it’s gonna just be me and Mom, and this gives me some great ways of breaking the news to my dad…

  4. I’m so glad that you covered this topic! This seems to be an issue that many brides have been dealing with lately, and it’s an issue that I’ll have to deal with when the time comes. Thanks so much!

  5. Thank you so much for this. My bio-dad is still going to take it badly, (it doesn’t help that he doesn’t like Clayton, my Other Dad, or that he didn’t get to walk my half-sister either.) but I guess I’ll have to be willing to make allowances. Maybe say ‘I’ll still do the Father-Daughter dance with you!’ (which I don’t want to do, but hey, compromise is a bitch.) Still, I predict I’ll be ending it with the bit you put at the end. Oh well.

    I gotta say, as much as I don’t see my bio-dad as my father, I feel kind of sorry for him. As far as I can tell, none of his children even like him. None of us wanted him at our weddings at all although my brother did invite him, and I’m doing that too. And if he decides he’s not coming because of this, well, um… darn?

    • I’m cutting out the awkward “father daughter dance” from the start. Fiancé and his mom can have a song and dance whenever they want, there just won’t be an announcement about it!

  6. This is such a well-timed post for me. I’ve been trying to work up the courage to tell my stepdad that I don’t want *anybody* walking me down the aisle. My mom says it will break his heart if he doesn’t get to, but the thought of being “given away” makes me feel really squeamish. :\ Coming up with an alternate role seems like the best thing to do…

    • Boy was this a tough one for me! I didn’t handle things great because it honestly didn’t cross my mind that my step-dad thought he would be walking me (bio-dad in jail), and so I didn’t address it all. Then it came up in conversation and I wasn’t prepared and things ended quite badly. Still trying to figure out the solution to this one. I’m not fond of my step-dad, he was physically abusive when I was growing up, and he is now psychologically abusive to my mom (whom I love dearly!). After letting my mom know all of that, things have exploded. 🙁

  7. Well, I called my dad. I’m strangely relieved that I got his voicemail. Here’s what I said, in case anyone else needs ideas:

    “Dad, I know you’re not going to take this well, but I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and this is really what I want. I’d like Clayton to walk me down the aisle at the wedding. He helped mom so much with raising Joel and I, and he has no other children of his own. Since he sees me as his daughter, I thought this would be a great way to include him in the wedding. I’ll still do the father daughter dance with you, but this is a great way to thank him for helping so much when I was growing up.”

    I’m not looking forward to his reaction, but… oh well. I’ll wing it if I’m away from my computer. And if things go badly, they go badly. Hopefully we’ll forgive each other eventually.

  8. One of my girl friends just got married this past weekend, and she had her grandfather walk her down the aisle and had both her grandfather and her biological father “give her away.” Maybe this would work for Ellie (or anyone who has an absent bio-dad).

    In my case, I walked by myself down the aisle. My DAD was my maternal grandfather, and he died a little over six years ago. The only other person I would have had walk me would be my brother, but he was my Man Of Honor.

    You just need to figure out what works for you and DO THAT.

  9. Great advice for a sticky situation. Though I have to say that in general, I’m not a fan of the “Don’t be offended — I’m making you a reader!” approach. I see this offered up as a solution for all sorts of things (to placate a friend/relative who expected to be a bridesmaid, etc.) and frankly I think people see through it. If this dad is the type who believes he should walk her down the aisle just because they are related by blood, I don’t think he will feel any better about the situation if he’s reading a verse while some other man walks her down the aisle. With that said, I suppose giving him another part of the wedding will make him feel a little better in the long run. But I also have to add that if he didn’t earn the right to walk her down the aisle, then maybe he didn’t earn another special spot in the wedding, either. Sounds harsh but I have been in a similar situation.

    But thanks for the reminder of the conflict resolution thing! I seriously, literally, am cutting and pasting those lines into an email today that deals with family members and wedding drama. It sums up exactly what I meant. Thanks!

  10. Cassie, I’m a big proponent of the different roles approach. My father didn’t walk me down the aisle, not because I don’t love him, but because A) I wanted to walk down the aisle with my husband B) my father’s a poet and him reading one of him poems was way more meaningful than him putting one foot in front of the other with me.

    I don’t think creating alternative roles for people has to be an issue of dismissing them.

  11. this is SO hard
    I’m trying to figure out how to skip the father/daughter dance (my family doesn’t really dance) without insisting on skipping the mother/son dance

    and the walk down the aisle–oh boy–thanks for the pointers. I have no Other Father but having no one walk me down the aisle is something I’ll have to explain.

  12. I’m having both my parents walk me down the aisle. I’d like my groom-to-be to do the same when he approaches the altar, to symbolize that both his parents and my parents give their blessing for the marriage (mine will be very family-/community- oriented), but I’m not sure how his traditional parents would take it. Anyone have any ideas on how to broach that subject?

    • We got married in a Methodist church and they have cut it out of the ceremony we used. The pastor asks instead for the parent’s blessing. My dad walked me down the aisle but I really liked that all the parents (DH has four due to remarriage) we’re asked to stand and say they were down with us…I think it would also work in a non religious ceremony too.

      • This! Thank you for fixing my problem. I’m having a surprise wedding and therefore my dad won’t know enough to walk me down the aisle, nor do I want him to. This solves the issue.

  13. Jess – I’d hit an all-positive angle with a side helping of flattery. Start by saying your parents are walking you down the aisle because they both mean so much to you that you couldn’t image doing it without both of them. Then say that, while you know it’s not very traditional, the idea of them doing the same thing with their sons sounds wonderful; it’s a public declaration of both you and your husband being brought to that point by your respective parents, and then starting a new life together. Make it sound like the idea of walking out with both of your parents is just too lovely and symbolic to just have the bride do it, and you want to include them as well.

  14. I learned today the my nephew is a wonderful ‘I don’t want to talk about this anymore’ buffer. Elbows in the boob and diaphragm aren’t fun, but at least it’s not “I don’t understand! What did I do??” Not to mention when I said ow, the baby started crying, and I had a wonderful excuse to get off the phone.

  15. This is such a well-timed post for me. I’ve been trying to work up the courage to tell my stepdad that I don’t want *anybody* walking me down the aisle. My mom says it will break his heart if he doesn’t get to, but the thought of being “given away” makes me feel really squeamish. :\ Coming up with an alternate role seems like the best thing to do…

  16. Thanks for posting the photo! This bride was really close to both her real father and her stepfather and wanted them both to walk her down the aisle. Her parents even danced with each others spouses on the dance floor!

    • I was planning on doing just that! I'm actually a little closer to my step-dad (who considers me his biological daughter) than my biological dad, but I love them both very much and it made perfect sense to me to have them both walk me down the aisle. Glad to see I'm not the only one! :3

  17. Historically, I’ve had a turbulent relationship with my father. He was mostly not around growing up and, when he was, so was my step mother…who had a hard time sharing my dad. Needless to say, our relationship was very rocky for a very long time. Over the past 5 years or so, I have worked really hard to let it go. Water under the bridge. It is HARD to let go…but personally, I couldn’t carry this baggage anymore. Either let it go (and salvage a relationship, if possible…or not). So that is what I did.

    The good news is that things are much better between us (far from perfect), but enough that I was comfortable having my dad (AND MOM) walk me down the isle together. Talk about awesome (and scary, since it was a very bitter divorce and they hadn’t seen each other in like 15 years).

    Good luck to you all, whatever you decide! Remember, you need to make sure you are doing what makes YOU happy and comfortable.

  18. My boyfriend has been an absent dad, but through no choice of his own. His ex-wife has made it very uncomfortable for him to participate in his daughter’s life. If he were to be at her wedding and see another man walk her down the aisle, it would just kill him. It’s so unfair. I think the nice thing to do is not have anyone give you away. See the film Last Chance Harvey to get the rejected father’s perspective. Heartbreaking.

    • I’m sorry Soozie, but I don’t agree with you.

      If your boyfriend hasn’t been a part of his daughter’s life, whether by choice or simply because he felt it would cause too much drama to fight for any sort of custody, then he needs to respect his daughter’s decisions. Especially if he really loves her.

      I’m sure he would want his daughter to be happy, even at his own expense. That is what a parent does.

  19. Hibyrd — great suggestion 🙂 I’ll definitely have to try it once I get up the nerve.

    Alison — I did not know that — good to know! I’m not Jewish, though, so unfortunately that won’t really help me in terms of breaking it to the in-laws. But it might be a good reference. Thanks. 🙂

  20. Jess, we’re not Jewish, but it didn’t stop us from using a Jewish tradition in our wedding — in our case, we went on a Yichud walk immediately after our ceremony.

    It’s easy to say, “After doing some research about weddings, I was really inspired by the Jewish tradition of having both parents walking me down the aisle!”

  21. I used an avoidance route for this one. Not wanting to offend my father since we’re actually talking now, but still not close, I’ve just avoided all the father/daughter situations.

    I’m pulling the feminist card for walking myself down the aisle, though with my small venue there may not even be an aisle.

    Small venue with no dance space also eliminates the need for parental dances, especially since we’re not sure that the future hubbys mom will show.

    I really wanted my “other dad” to walk me down the aisle (I call him dad and see him more often. His wife is best friends with his wife and I’ve always thought of their kids as my sibling). It wasn’t worth the drama it would cause though.

    We’ve actually avoided alot of drama by not having anyone involved in the ceremony besides us and the minister. Our mantra: “piss off everyone a little bit instead of a few people a lot.”

  22. Haha that should say his wife is best friends with my mom… why is there no edit on here!?

  23. In my perfect world, we’d have both our parents walk both of us down the aisle.

    But while my parents would be alright, his parents are divorced and hostile towards each other, so we are back to the drawing board. :/

    • I’m in a similar situation, both our parents are divorced. My fiance’s father died a few years ago and his mom is remarried, but he’s not nearly as close to his stepfather he was with his bio-Dad. My parents have been involved in nasty litigation against each other for several years now and my dad has remarried a woman who wants nothing to do with me or my siblings. The weddings’ over a year away, but I’m sure we’ll figure something out. I’m leaning towards us walking each other down the aisle, through out our relationship we’ve always supported each other through our family drama (despite the fact we love our fam dearly). I’m trying to find other ways to have our parents and his stepfather feel included.

  24. Ariel: Good point, but I meant it more in terms of trying to explain the reasoning to the parents. Citing Jewish tradition wouldn’t really be truthful — I want it because I want to symbolize equality and the unity of two families (which I imagine would be the reasoning in the Jewish tradition also), but not because I saw it in a Jewish ceremony and liked it. But like I said, it might be a good reference when explaining why we want that in our own ceremony (which will be a traditional religious [Christian] one, for reference).

  25. But I am thankful for Offbeat Bride, even though I want something more traditional — it encourages me to push the boundaries on the symbolism that is important to me. Like gender-neutral vows and a mutual giveaway.

  26. I wanted to walk down the aisle with my fiance rather than with my parents or father. This went down amazingly and spectacularly badly. I can’t emphasize enough how poorly it was received, particularly by my mother.
    The result? My father’s walking me alone.

  27. Oh, Julie. I’m so sorry to hear that your discussion with your parents was so poorly received. Depending on how long it is until the wedding, could you reapproach the issue with them?

    I’m going through this a bit right now with my parents. In short, my father hasn’t been support of me or my marriage, and I don’t want him walking me down the aisle. I know it’s a topic that will have to be discussed with him more than once, and I imagine the same might be true of your father…

  28. I just got married and dealt with this. My father was NOT walking me down the aisle after all our less than spectacular history. I went through all sorts of options – grandfather, both grandfathers, mom, myself, good friends… At first I felt like it was super important to have someone there to support me and represent family and community, but in the end I was just too conflicted about choosing someone and decided to walk by myself. My family and friends surrounding me were support enough, and it felt just fine.

    We also didn’t do any traditional dances, nor the traditional family photos. Just a few group shots and that was good enough.

  29. @PDXKate. How did that go!?! I actually would like both of my parents to walk me down the aisle because when I was married before I didn’t have anyone do it and he was PISSED. They got divorced about what 5 or 6 years ago and it’s gone badly since then. Ridiculous is a theme for my family. Any tips on making it less so?

  30. I was fretting this very thing and it wound up coming up in conversation so I didn’t have to bring it up. Unfortunately for me, my dad didn’t take the news so well and got a bit snarky with me, suggesting that my mother (who is walking me down the aisle) could take his place in the photos and the father-daughter dance, too. Ouch, Dad.

    I’m putting off telling him that he’s sharing me during the father-daughter dance (with my former and current stepdads) for fear his head might explode.

  31. I love that you posted this. My uncle pretty much raised me and will be the one walking me down the aisle. My dad and I have reconnected and I do want him to be apart of the wedding, but just not as the man to give me away. Instead he is going to be the one officiating the wedding. This will mean more to me, and I hope he understands.

    • If you want any kind of relationship with your father don’t do it. Have him walk you down the isle or don’t even invite him to your wedding. Family member is gettin married in a few weeks and my family has just found out she is having her mom walk her down. Our family is all devastated and furious with her. We feel she is humiliating her father it is supposed to be the proudest day of his life. We have no idea if she told him yet And don’t know how to approach him. We have a lot of family going from all over. Me any my sisters don’t even want to Attend and watch her humiliate him but feel we need to be there to support him. I know it’s your day but please consider your fathers and his families feelings. If I was a man who’s daughter did this I wouldn’t be able to forgive her and I would not attend the wedding and I would disown her and disinherit her if she humiliated me like that. So be careful that’s all I can say you will be hurting more people than just your father

  32. I have just had the same situation. I went softly as i was raised by my aunt and uncle (who have both passed away). I chose their son to walk me down the aisle instead. He was always there for me. I don't think being harsh is fair. Fathers have feelings too. As much as i haven't had a great relasionship with my bio dad, gently was the way to go. He wasn't happy, asked me to leave because not only did i tell me he wouldn't be walking me down the aisle but my sisters wouldn't be bridesmaids either. I think i have finished whatever communication we had. Giving them another job is nearly as second insult. You are better not having them involved at all. No matter what the circumstances, it is a hard thing to do and is harder for the father to accept so all brides to be in this situation. Accept your bio dad to be upset but remember don't do it as a punishment you will regret that. Make this decision because their really is someone who deserves it better and you know in your heart to be true. The implications of this decision can have a life long result. I am happy in my decision but don't make it out of pain or anger. You won't make the right decision. Chin up brides.

  33. Well, I'm married now, and I'm glad Clayton walked me. I was so happy to be finally getting married I was crying on my way down the aisle. He very calmly whispered 'Ellie – nuns in bikini's!' I laughed, and managed not to spoil my makeup. And most importantly, I felt so very honored to have the man who made such a huge contribution to my life give me away. I don't think it would have been at all the same if my dad had been the one to do it.

    As for my dad… he didn't come. He said it was lack of money, and it could have been, easily. I hope I haven't killed out relationship forever, but if I have… well, there wasn't much left to kill, sadly. Hopefully he'll forgive me someday.

  34. omfg THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for posting this! For YEARS I have been dreading this exact conversation with my father… except I am having my mother walk me. This has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders! I am going to simply assign him another job of some importance and leave it as that. I hope (fingers crossed) it won't hurt his feelings too badly and another job will ease the tension I *know* it will cause. THANK YOU!

  35. I'm going through a similar situation. My parents divorced when I was young, and I have an amazing stepdad who played a really huge role in raising me. I'm very fortunate to have great relationships with both of my Dads, but I'm still terrified to tell my biological Dad that he's sharing me as we walk down the aisle. For the Father/Daughter dance I'm taking a different approach- I'll dance with my father, and then a little later in the reception, have all of the fathers/daughters in attendance join my stepdad and I as we dance.

  36. Thank you for this. I am close to being engaged and starting to think about the actual wedding. I've known for while that my dad will not be walking me down the aisle. For me, it really is about feminist reasons: I am not property to be given away. I am also independent in nature, which my dad himself has acknowledged. Having my parents walk me down the aisle still seemed not-quite-right. Now that I am getting to planning it there probably will not really be an aisle, which will help. But I know my dad will still be disappointed. We have occasionally had a rocky relationship and this helped remind me that I have to be careful to ensure that he knows the positive aspects of my reasoning and knows it is not about him, it is about me.

    • I’m getting around the not giving away part but still giving my dad the opportunity to walk me down the aisle by “flipping the script” a bit. I’m having both my parents walk with me until we get to their seat – and then I will give them each a kiss and go the rest of the way (only a few steps but still) on my own. This way it will be more like me escorting them to their seat at the end of the processional instead of my mom being escorted at the beginning alone and my dad giving me away. They get their walk down the aisle and I will be taking the last few steps independently.

  37. This article was very insightful. I just happen to have had…technically 3 fathers, and I’ve yet to decide if I want my current step-father to walk me, or my grandpa! My bio-dad was never married to my mom ’cause she had me when she was 19. >.> And now she’s been married…almost 10 years now to my current step-dad. He’s a great guy and I have a lot in common with him, but he insults my fiance whenever he’s around. Now, my grandpa is my last resort, because he was the #1 father-like figure I had growing up.
    My decision is still void, and I’ll probably wait until the last minute, because I hate to make decisions…
    But I know I’ll figure it out eventually. ^^

  38. I have a similar problem as you. I think my stepdad has more right then my real dad. I decided to have my brother walk me down and I did tell me real dad and he actually took it really well. I was surprised because that is not his nature at all. Good luck and best wishes!

  39. I struggled with the aisle decision, too. I am close to my parents and wanted to honor both of them (and their 37 years of marriage) equally, but I didn’t want to be escorted and given away. My husband’s family is complicated in makeup and we wanted to include many people whose relation to us isn’t really typical. The processional consisted of my husband’s “stepgrandma” escorted by her son/his “uncle.” Then my husband’s mom escorted by our usher/reader/family friend. Then my parents together. Then the bridesmaid/groomsman, then the MOH (my sister) and best man. Then my husband and I walked down together, which was a really nice moment to share. I think everyone was happy and felt included.

  40. For a long time, I was thinking I would go down the aisle solo, even though I have a good relationship with my dad (didn’t used to be, but it’s been getting better!). I finally realized that it wasn’t so much the down-the-aisle part as the “Who gives this woman?” that really got under my skin, and as OBB has provided different options for that phrase (e.g. “Who blesses this union?” – yay for including all parents!), I have less of an issue with it now.

    Also, even though my dad said I could do whatever I wanted, it would hurt him, and that’s the last thing I want on my wedding day.

    So, I will be blessed by my parents rather than given – and that’s a wonderfully positive interpretation of the tradition.

  41. I’m trying to figure out what to do too – but the problem is actually that I /do/ want my dad to walk me (at least part of the way) down the isle. The problem is that my mom doesn’t want him to (very VERY bitter divorce), and has made a couple of comments along the lines of “you’re NOT having your DAD walk you down the isle, of course!” as a statement not a question…

    So if I include my dad by having him walk me down the isle, I feel like I really need my mom involved too in some capacity. She has a huge fear of public speaking, so a reading is out of the question, and we’re doing a windy, outdoor wedding, so a ‘unity candle’ or some such isn’t really do-able because I don’t want to deal with stressing about the wind blowing it out (I don’t even want to give the opportunity for that kind of horrible symbolism).

    While I like the idea in general of both parents walking me down the isle, their relationship is so intensely acrimonious that I would feel like a bit of tug-o-war rope between them. Which is the last thing I want to have to think about on my way down the isle.

    So, does anyone have ideas about how to have their mothers play an active role that doesn’t involve public speaking or such? I thought about having my parents walk each other down the isle and I walk myself, but then they’d have to actually be next to each other without me as a buffer in the middle… with would probably mean there would be some kind of explosion.

    Help?

    • While it’s probably much too late now (hopefully this’ll still help out other OBBs), could you have your father walk you down the aisle and then, to honor your mother, do a mother/daughter dance instead of a father/daughter dance? What did you end up doing?

  42. i hgad my brother walk me down the isle since he was the one my hubby asked for “permission” to marry me. (old fashioned but the sentiment was totally sweet) I chose to have my dad stand at the end of the isle with the officiant and say the opening prayer. that way he got an immediate and important part nd then went and sat down. it worked out well for all and no feelings were hurt

  43. I could really use some advice on this subject, too, because I have a slightly different situation…

    My mom and dad have been divorced since I was small, and they have both remarried at least once each. I feel closer to my dad, despite a rocky childhood and not talking to him often, but my mom has hinted that my stepdad “deserves” to walk me down the aisle because he has supported us financially for so long… however, I feel no closeness to him whatsoever. We are not emotionally close and I do not like him, but things will probably be tense between me and my mom/stepdad if I choose my father (whom they hate).

    Should I just go with what I want to do and piss off my entire family, or do what they want to do and hurt my real father? 🙁

    • Have you talked about it with your stepdad? He might feel the same way you do–like you don’t have a particularly strong emotional bond, and that your biological father has a better connection with you. If he does, being able to say to your mom and her family that your stepdad isn’t offended, and is actually on board with your plan, might help ameliorate bad feelings.

      When you’re talking to your family about this, remind them that it isn’t about offending them or your stepdad–it’s about honoring someone who played a pivotal role in your upbringing.

      Have you thought about giving your stepdad a different role, like a reading or candle lighting or something?

      Third option–have you thought about having neither of them walk you down the aisle, but giving both of them another role, like a reading? It might be a nice symbol that you honor both the man who supported financially and the one who supported you emotionally EQUALLY.

      Best of luck!

  44. I am so happy that I found this article because I have been beating myself up on how to find a to handle this situation. I know its still going to be a big fight but I am more prepared now.

  45. Another idea is what we came up for my B-father. He’s going to walk me from my dressing room to the start of the aisle, then switch with my step father (who is my dad). So, he gets a role in the wedding and its similar to what happened in real life (although I left that part out). Mine is an outdoor wedding, so people will be able to see me from a ways back.

  46. I’ve seen this question come up on other blogs before including the wonderful “ask bossy’ blog. Is it an option to have both men walk you down the aisle?

    Either way, I think you should choose the man that means most to you and who raised you. It shouldn’t have to be your biological dad.

  47. or – you could be totally unique and have no aisle and no one ‘giving you away’!. I am not having an aisle at my wedding, my fiance and I will turn up together, no one is going to give me away because I am no one’s property.

  48. Initially I just wanted to walk my own self down the aisle but my dad was so disappointed by that idea. However once I researched Jewish weddings I figured out that both families stand up with the bride and groom and the wedding is about a blending of two families to create a new family. By having my parents walk my down the aisle it was less about an exchange of property from father to husband and more about creating a new family.

    I decided to compromise and have both my parents walk me down the aisle, and then half way down my dad lifts up my veil and I walk myself the rest of the way. Of course the aisle was so short and I was so excited that I forgot to have dad lift the veil so I had to backtrack. everyone had a polite chuckle over that. It made everyone happy.

  49. I’ve had to address this problem as well and sure wish I’d seen this before I had! I think I came up with a fair compromise on my own though. My dad left my brother and I (our mother had passed 3 years prior) when I was 16 & big bro was 21, leaving brother to raise me. Since then we have always been understandably close. We kept in contact with dear ol dad and even though we have forgiven him there are still some hurt feelings. So when I started planning my wedding my first choice for my aisle companion was my big brother. He thought I should at least offer the role to our dad but I wasn’t sure I could rely on him to show up even if he accepted. So I suggested that they both walk me down! My dad felt it was appropriate (more so than I expected!) and I still get my brother on my arm! Bonus: if dear ol dad doesn’t show, I’ve still got my #1 draft, no last minute changes!

  50. I am no where near getting married (grad school first) but this issue plagues me. I haven’t talked to my bio-dad for about 8 years now. My mom got remarried, but despite adopting me and being my father figure for the past 12 years, my step dad and I really really do not get along. My parents are still married, though they do not get along. I do not want him to walk me, and I do not want a father-daughter dance. I think my wishes will destroy any semblance of a relationship we may have had, and will also make my parents marriage that much worse. Ugh. It’s enough to be happy that phDs take so damn long.

  51. Fortunately, my bio-dad told me that he would be uncomfortable walking me down the aisle because he’s a Jehovah’s Witness, and I, my fiance, and the woman who is marrying us, are all Witches. Not to mention my father’s side of the family basically told me they’re not going to my wedding, so I don’t have to worry about offending them…being offended at the turn down, however, is a whole other subject…

  52. Likewise, I do not have a good relationship with my father, and did not want him to walk me down the aisle as I was about to make vows that he had broken. That said, he is still my father, and I felt the need to acknowledge that. In the end, I decided to have him play guitar while my mother walked with me. I asked him if he would play, and did not even broach the subject of him walking me. It went really well, and even his side of the family said that it was a great compromise.

  53. My family tree situation is so so convoluted there isn’t enough room here to type it all. Nonetheless, both my dad(Joe) and my step-dad(Roger) are deceased. The only one coming on my “family” side is my mom. So guess what? My MOM is walking me down the aisle. We even found a floor length dress in her closet in Jan. that fits, matches my dress and is the one for her! I am blessed that she is coming out 10 days ahead to spend time with me/us and help out.

    The true blessing is my “church family” almost all of whom are having a hand in the wedding…and I am lucky to have them. 😉

  54. I developed my plan today: my only sibling is my twin brother, and I really want him to walk me down the aisle because even though dad has been there my whole life, he has been a complete a-hole the whole time (he’s both a clinical narcissist and an alcoholic). So my rationale is that I would not be who I am today without the love and support of my whole family, and since my brother won’t be a groomsman, but we’ve always been close, I want to honor him by having him walk me down the aisle, then have both my parents (they’re separated) step forward from the front pew, and when the minister asks “Who brings this woman to be married to this man?” they will all 3 respond “We do,” then I will hug each of them, and the wedding will proceed. Dad will still get his spotlight moment (which he views as his right, but tough, it’s this or he can just not come at all!), but the people who actually love and care for me will share it with him, and I won’t have to deal with him right before I walk down the aisle.

  55. While this is helpful, I’m still not sure how it’ll work for dads who really aren’t in the loop of things. I honestly don’t care if my biological dad is at my wedding or not, but I invited him because both my grandma and him would get offended (I’m really doing it more for grandma). I’d much rather have my step-dad walk me down the isle or do the father daughter dance. How do I invite him as a guest and that’s it? (I don’t even know if he’ll be there or not, he’s halfway across the country and our wedding will be on a weekday during the school year)

  56. Hi everyone,
    I came across this forum after my fiancé jokingly told me to google ‘how do i tell my dad he’s not walking me down the aisle’ to get ideas on how to broach the topic with him.

    My dad and I don’t really communicate unless we are at a family member’s birthday get together, or christmas. There were many many issues when my parents divorced – and I was betrayed very badly by him – to the point where I excluded him from my life completely and changed my surname to my mother’s maiden name. I have since been able to let go of the hurt, anger and baggage surrounding all of that, but we are not close, nor will we ever be. We are able to now converse when we do see eachother, and I am now on most occasions, comfortable enough to give him a brief hug hello.

    I have known for a very long time that if I was to get married one day, that he wouldn’t be walking me down the aisle because it would just make me anxious and uncomfortable. For a long time I used to say that I would have my mum, however now that I am engaged and planning my wedding, I really truly have my heart set on my step father – who has been a wonderful source of support, friendship, guidance and honesty for over half of my life now. I don’t see my step father as my dad, but rather as my friend, and I can’t imagine anyone else walking me down the aisle. My difficulty is that I don’t want to cause drama in my family about this, and have been really struggling on how to bring the topic up with my dad – given that we don’t talk unless it’s someone’s birthday etc – to me it would come across like I was only talking to him to tell him what he’s not doing, which seems a bit mean.

    After reading so many of these posts, I think I’ve come up with a letter that might do the trick without seeming mean, but would love some feedback on what you think…

    Hi Dad,

    I know it might seem strange to receive a letter, but there’s been something I’ve been wanting to talk to you about, but wasn’t sure how exactly to start the conversation, given that we don’t communicate very often.

    Things have not always been great between you and I, but I’m glad that we have reached a point where we can get along again. Fiance and I want our wedding day to be a time of celebration that brings together everyone that we love, and naturally that includes our families. We would like to invite you to be a part of our ceremony by giving a reading – the same one that Sister read at Brother and Sister-in-law’s wedding a few years ago, as well as offering a toast and saying a few words at the reception.

    As you are probably aware, Fiance and I are not exactly ‘traditional’ or conventional in style, and I have for some time been contemplating who I would ask to walk me down the ‘garden path’ otherwise known as the ‘aisle’ – not to ‘give me away’ as such, because I am no-one’s property, but to provide me with the support and comfort that I will undoubtedly need on this special day. For a very long time I thought about either doing it alone or having mum walk me down the aisle, but I have since decided not to have either of my parent’s perform this role. Instead I am asking a friend who has been a great and constant source of support to me for over more than half of my life. Without his friendship, guidance, honesty and support, I would not be the person I am today, and for those reasons I would like to honour Stepdad’s contribution to my life by having him accompany me. I am not doing this to hurt or exclude you and mum, and I hope that you can understand this and still be involved in our celebrations.

    • This is the most amazing help! I’ve been wondering how to tell my bio-dad for sometime and this script is just what I needed. THANK YOU!

    • Thank you for sharing your letter. I may try something very similar to this in a few months.

      My parents are still married but I am not particularly close to either of them, especially my father. (Although wedding planning and thinking about creating family is changing some of this, at least on my end). There is a similar friend in my life who I have already asked to walk me down the aisle, but not give me away.

      I told my mother about this today and she was quite upset and concerned about how this will be perceived by our guests. She wants me to reconsider; I don’t want to but I also don’t want to hurt her feelings; I don’t want to hurt my friend’s feelings by withdrawing my invitation to him to escort me.

      I’m trying to just sit with this and not make any rash decisions to change my plans and will approach my parents about this again in a month or two. Ugh.

      • Laura,
        Congratulations on your engagement!
        Good luck with your situation – not making a rash decision is a good idea! I wish you all the best in figuring out what you want to do!
        A good piece of advice I received was that ultimately, it is your wedding day, and it is about what you and your partner want.

  57. I guess I’m wondering why an announcement has to be made at all? With everyone involved in my wedding, I am telling them what role I would like them to play and asking them for the honor of playing that role. It never occurred to me to announce to people what role they are NOT playing. I have a biological father who I don’t keep in contact with, whom I will likely never see again and who will probably never meet my fiance much less come to my wedding, a step dad who raised me until age 14, who will be attending, along with his wife (his daughter, my half-sister is my MOH), and the man who adopted me as a teenager and is contributing, financially, in part to my wedding, who will be walking me down the aisle. I have not told the two men who aren’t walking me down the aisle that they will not be doing so and I’m certain they will figure it out when I come down the aisle with someone else. If they bring it up, I’ll simply say that “Jim is going to be walking me down the aisle.” It’s nobody’s business why. I took the same philosophy with my bridesmaids. There are two girls I didn’t choose who seem upset by this but I never told them they weren’t chosen, nor did I make an announcement of who I did choose. One of them asked who my bridesmaids are, I told her, and that was that. If she wants to discuss it further, she can bring it up and I’m happy to talk about it. This may seem cold but it’s not my place to assume what others feel/think and it’s nobody else’s place to make assumptions about whom I should honor at my wedding. I just think it hurts more to reject someone with a big announcement and a bunch of reasons why.

    • Writing this piece, my assumption was that Ellie was anticipating being asked about it by her father.

  58. I’m in somewhat of a similar situation, but it’s slightly different so the advice given doesn’t really fit. My parents divorced when I was in high school. Dad wasn’t really present in my childhood and after they were divorced mom had a hard time getting him to take us for his visitation every other weekend. Despite this, I really feel for my dad and I do care about him. My sister still had him walk her down the aisle, just because she didn’t want to have the awkward conversation telling him he wasn’t. It is very important to me to have my mom give me away, because she is the parent that raised me and made me the person I am. I thought about having both mom and dad walk me down, and I may still do so, but ultimately it would mean a lot to me to have my mom do it. (Also parents aren’t really on good terms so I feel like that might cause problems anyways.) Any advice on how to break the news to dad? Like I said, I don’t want him to feel bad or start a fight over it. Multiple people have told me dad will assume he’s doing it (especially because he walked my sister down) so I guess another question is do I even have to tell him? and what do I tell him if he asks? I feel like it might be more awkward to have him show up expecting to do it than to break it to him ahead of time.

  59. I chose a very matter of fact approach to the subject and included my dad in the father daughter dance. “Grandpa’s going to walk me down the isle, Dad. Do you want to help pick the song you and I dance to for the father-daughter dance?” The conversation ended up much more casual than I had feared.

  60. I’m in a similar dilemma. My step father and I have never gotten along. He also used to spank me pretty bad when I was younger and thinking of it makes me sad. My bio dad was completely gone for most of my life. I’ve talked with my step dad and we’ve made amends. He is a different man is his older age and we are pretty close now. I found my bio dad and we’ve also become very close. He comes to my apartment regularly and helps me out financially and supportively a lot. My mom is not supportive of me getting to know my father. She sometimes talks bad about him in front of me and talks about my stepmom who is probably the kindest woman I know. I want both of my dads to walk me down the aisle. I know that my stepdad can be kind of emotional though and he hates my bio dad with a passion so I don’t think he’ll be too happy with this.

    TL;DR: In summary, my parents are kind of childish and I don’t think they’ll agree with having my bio dad included in the walking down the aisle because of personal vendettas.

  61. My father has been absent for much of my life, downright abusive through a lot of it and has shown no interest in the wedding whatsoever. He’s refused to come to the reception and at one point threatened not to come to the wedding at all. He basically had to be talked into it by another family member. It’s been the one horrible, stressful aspect of planning the wedding and (as supportive as people have been) really isolating too; a lot of people around me are engaged/imminently getting married and it’s difficult to see their fathers clearly excited and doting on them and then look at my own situation.

    Needless to say, I have never envisioned him giving me away. My mother is my best friend and has raised me pretty much single-handedly. If I was going to have anyone give me away, it was always going to be her.

    When my father asked me who was giving me away, I just told him straight up ‘I’ve asked Mom to do it.’ If he did follow it with anything further, I was more than prepared to do what this article suggests and which I think is great advice: give positive things about the person you DO intend to give you away, but no negatives about your dad, even if you have lots. If the person still gets rude/passive-aggressive/guilt-trippy, be prepared to say ‘I’ve explained my reasons and I no longer want to have this conversation.’ However, try not to take the bait, as tempting as it is. It can get really ugly and it will throw a really negative light on the whole process of planning.

    Mercifully, I didn’t have to do that, as my father didn’t say anything. I don’t know if that’s because he fell into the camp of relieved or not, but I’m not going to worry about it too much. Instead, I’m eagerly looking forward to the big day and having someone who’s always been there for me by my side as I walk down the aisle.

  62. My sister in law had her grandfather walk her down the aisle (he was in a wheelchair so her mother pushed it) because her parents had also divorced when she was young and her grandfather was her father figure. She was actually estranged from her real dad until my brother coaxed her into talked with him and they visit regularly now. I don’t think he ever expected to be a part of the wedding but he and his wife attened as guests. My other sister in law lost her father when she was 11, so her grandfather (who is blind) walked her along with her mother to help guide him. I told my own father that I could walk alone, not because he was out of my life, but because he has an extremely difficult time walking and I wanted to take some pressure off him. He got mad about that, I guess because I am the oldest daughter and he wants to he involved. I decided it wasn’t a battle to have, but he might be unable walk much by the wedding next year so we will see.

  63. Need some feedback on a little different twist. How about the bride who selects her grandfather (mom’s dad) to walk down the aisle because bio-dad was not ‘good enough’. Early divorce and most time spent with mom and grandparents. Dad did the best he had the capacity for: Paid child support, shared custody every other weekend and 2 weeknights, attended events, participated in sports, etc. He couldn’t afford many extras – vacations were limited to visiting his family, while grandparents were more indulgent. Bride had the ex call dad to tell him he ‘wouldn’t be walking her down the aisle or any part of the wedding party’, but of course, daughter wants him to be there. No explanation, so dad is left wondering where he went wrong or what he did to warrant this choice. She appears to enjoy her time with dad on the times she comes over for dinners/holidays, etc – lots of laughs and warmth, but not a lot of depth. She is the apple of his eye.
    Looking at this objectively, it seems like a semi-public action to ‘punish’ dad. He is left not wanting to miss the opportunity of a lifetime to see his beautiful daughter on such an important occasion for her, yet also having to cope with the pain in a public forum. Both dad and daughter share the trait of not wanting to have difficult conversations, but hoping they come together to start mending some broken fences. My thought is that she made her adult choice, and he can do the same. If it means he can’t bear attending the wedding, that is as acceptable as her choice to exclude him from his role as her father.
    Thanks for any pearls of wisdom you can send our way!

  64. I wish I had seen this article back when I was planning my first wedding in 2013. I still came up with the overall concept of “emphasize why chosen escort person is important to you”, but in a verbose and delayed kind of way. I have a bio-dad and a step-dad. But I’m not especially close to either, so I wanted to have my brother walk me instead. Well, I say I wanted that, but what I really wanted was to walk down alone. My brother is someone I’ve always looked up to though and I figured that he’d be somewhat of a representative of both dads (and therefore a good compromise). My brother actually asked me who was walking me down the aisle before I had a chance to ask him. When I did ask him, he said he would do it but he didn’t feel like it was his place.

    Then my bio-dad asked about it and I said I had chosen my brother. He felt slighted and wanted me to change my mind. I think my mom heard enough of my woes on the subject to warn my step-dad to let me figure it out first, because he didn’t actually ask me about it. Clearly I waited too late to communicate to others what level of involvement I wanted them to have (save yourselves, learn from my mistakes: decide early and communicate your decisions).

    I ended up writing a letter to all three explaining my reasoning. I did offer to have my dads fulfill another role in my wedding (readings during the ceremony) and to have 2 father/daughter dances (one with each) and my brother did walk me down the aisle. In the end, there was really only drama on the planning side of the process. Once we got to the actual wedding everyone was happy (or kept their unhappiness to themselves) and I didn’t really hear about it after, so it must have been a satisfactory solution for everyone. And I got to have a moment with my brother before walking down the aisle that I still cherish (he had just recognized my harpist playing Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters).

    Overall lesson if you’ve read this far: make decisions that feel right in your gut, communicate better than I did, and keep in your back pocket the knowledge that it’s ultimately just one day and everything will be okay in the end.

    Now to see how they take the news that this time I’m walking by myself. Wish me luck!

    • I love that you came back to this post all these years later!! Thank you so much for sharing your overall lesson… best of luck & love.

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