Tips for the Alternative Father

Bride walking with father

There are a lot of traditions around weddings that have been passed down from generation to generation. Some of these involve fathers, which can be a tricky subject when it comes to brides-to-be who have different family situations. Perhaps their parents are divorced, they have step-parents, same-sex parents, or have lost their father in one way or another. Having to decide how to approach father-related wedding traditions will ultimately depend on what the bride wants and is most comfortable with, but it can still be a stressful situation. We have some tips to help!

Gather a Good Support System

Wedding family

Weddings are a big deal. A lot of work, time, and money goes into planning, right down to the littlest details. This is why it is so important to have a strong support system that will be there for you when you have to make tough decisions. Since fathers play such a significant role in traditional weddings, it can be quite overwhelming to think about how you’re going to execute those parts for your situation. Having that group of family and friends is going to be extremely important as you have to navigate this maze. Always keep good communication with them and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Wedding Invitations

Many couples choose to list their parents on their invitations, often because the parents are the ones hosting the event. When deciding how to go about listing your parents when you either have multiple step-parents—or perhaps none at all—can be tricky.

In order to keep this wedding tradition simple, just list the names of whoever is actually hosting your wedding. If that’s all of your parents, or simply you and your significant other, that’s what you should write. This also gives you an easy explanation for anyone who might be offended by you straying from tradition. They may still complain, but the logic will give you a firm stance to stick to.

Walking Down the Aisle

Bride walking down the aisle

One of the biggest roles a father can have at your wedding is walking you down the aisle. This can be a really tough decision when you either have more than one dad, or if your father has passed. We are long past the days of fathers actually giving their daughters away, so this part of the wedding is a more personal tradition. This means you should feel free to customize it and make it your own.

Step-Dad

Step-dads often play a significant part in their step-children’s lives; I know mine did. If yours was there for you more than your biological father and you want him to walk you down the aisle, you should ask him first and then communicate your decision to your father. It may be hurtful to him, depending on your relationship, but all you can do is be open and honest.

Both Dad and Step-Dad

Choosing between your father and step-father might feel too difficult to you. You don’t want to hurt either of their feelings, so why not have them both walk you? It’s not as uncommon as you’d think to ask both of the men who raised you to give you away on your wedding day.

Your Mom

While it’s traditionally the father’s role to give his daughter away, asking mom is another great solution. It’s not unusual for people to be raised by single moms, or to want their moms to do it simply because they played such a big role in their upbringing.

Another Significant Man

If you have a grandfather, uncle, brother, or any other significant man in your life that you are close with, you can always ask them. They will likely be delighted to be included in your wedding ceremony.

Solo

Another option is to walk down the aisle solo. Truthfully, you do not need to follow tradition and have a parent or someone else give you away to your husband. Many brides opt to walk down the aisle by themselves for a multitude of reasons.

Father/Daughter Dance

Father daughter dance

Probably the second biggest role a father has in his daughter’s wedding is participating in the father/daughter dance. Traditionally, the father would dance with his daughter first, and then hand her to her partner so they can then continue on to their first dance as a newly-wed couple. But, like when planning out how to walk down the aisle in a different family situation, this part might feel hard to navigate.

Someone Else

If a traditional father-daughter is not an option at your wedding, you can ask someone else to dance with you. Again, this can be a different significant man in your life such as an uncle, brother, or grandfather.

Two Dances

If you have a biological father and a step-dad that you want to include, you can do two separate dances. Each of these men most likely played a huge part in your life, so what better way to show your appreciation than to give each of them their own father/daughter dance? You can select a different song for each of them that really speaks to your individual relationships.

Shared Dance

If two dances sounds like one too many, you can always split the dance between them. Simply have one come in halfway through, but be sure to practice this transition so it flows nicely yet looks well rehearsed and intentional.

Mom

Just like walking down the aisle, you can always ask your mom to dance with you if you feel she is the one you want to share this moment with. It would probably mean a lot to her. Moms do a lot for the kids, and what better way to show how much she means to you than to have her take part in this special tradition.

Speeches

Wedding speech

Close family and friends are the speech givers at weddings, and obviously fathers are some of the first among them. It is a special moment when your father gets the chance to show his love and pride for you, and it’s one speech that many people look forward to.

In this case, you can loosen the reins a bit and open the floor to all of the central father figures in your life. It doesn’t matter if it’s a father, a step-father, an uncle, a grandfather or whichever; as long as they aren’t terribly long, they can all give a toast to you and your spouse. Or, you can always decide to skip this part entirely. It’s likely nobody would notice. While speeches are very touching, a lot of people are happy to keep on dancing, eating, and partying without the interruption.

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