*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Marriage traditions and the expectation of having two families join in as the happy couple gets ready for the big day can sometimes cause confusion about the way the ceremony should take place and what each parent is supposed to do for their child.
What happens when the bride and the groom are set on a specific tradition, but their parents don't feel like it's ok to go through with it? Should they tell or just go along with it and not interrupt their plans?
My friend Jack has been married to his wife Melissa for 26 years. Together they had four daughters, and they kept working throughout their childhood and teenage years to be able to afford everything they needed.
"We initially thought I could stay home with the girls, but as soon as we saw how much everything cost, we both went back to work. Our parents helped out, and they were so excited to look after the little ones and took turns doing so. No one got too tired, and I could go on with my career, just like Jack. In a way, it was probably fairer than having to stay home and getting stressed about the bills while cooking and playing with the kids," Melissa said.
Amelia, Carrie, Sandra, and Jo grew up happy, and even though they did miss their parents, their uncles, aunts, and grandparents were always there to support them whenever they needed something.
When they started high school, things got more complicated because they were curious about relationships, and they wanted to go on dates.
"We had to be so careful when they were at that age. I didn't want them to feel they couldn't fall in love, but I also tried hard to explain to them that they had to be aware of the consequences. And that having kids too soon could change their lives permanently," the mom said.
Jack and Melissa met all their daughters' boyfriends and preferred to invite them over to their home rather than make the girls see them somewhere else.
"It was better that way, and we could make sure they were reliable young men, too," Melissa added.
Time passed since then, and the four girls went to college. After graduation, they each started their own careers and moved away from their parents' home.
"We were so proud they could each afford to live in their own place. We missed them, but seeing them succeed was so worth it. It was like knowing we'd done well in raising them to be responsible," Melissa said.
All of their daughters have boyfriends, and Jo recently got engaged. Her boyfriend Brad proposed while they were on a trip, and then they shared the wedding date with the whole family.
"It was wonderful to find out my daughter would have her own family and a partner to love and support her all her life. Jack and I immediately began thinking about the wedding and everything that needed to be done for the big day," the mom said.
Melissa and Jack got involved in planning the ceremony along with Brad's parents, but there was one thing that puzzled Jack.
Even though he cared very much about his daughter's feelings, he'd always thought the tradition of walking the bride down the aisle should be given up.
"I don't want to walk her down the aisle; it's outdated, and I don't like it. It sends a message that I'd rather not be a part of. But I want her to be happy, so I'm not sure what to do," Jack said.
He's talked about it to his wife, but Melissa feels he should make an exception and just do it for his daughter because she will remember that day for the rest of her life.
"I don't think it's worth making Jo and Brad feel strange because he doesn't like that tradition. It's their wedding, and a family makes compromises sometimes," Melissa said.
The dad isn't comfortable with going through with it, though, and the wedding is in three weeks. He's also considering asking Brad's dad to do it, just in case.
How do you think this should be handled? Is it fair for the dad to refuse to walk his daughter down the aisle just because he doesn't like it, even though she's always looked forward to that moment? Would it be ok for her father-in-law to replace her dad?
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