Focus on the Essence, and Forget the Form

Dear Thriving Bride,

I am getting married in 51 days, and my father will not be walking me down the aisle.  The truth is, I decided that I don’t want him to. I have always imagined walking myself down the aisle. When I was 10 years old, I somehow knew I would make choices for my heart that would not please my parents.

I am not here to tell you to send all and any traditions to hell.  Some are really great, but that depends on the kind of bride you want to be.  I have never been someone who makes a very important decision based on the “moral” thing to do.  I usually choose based on the “right” thing to do.  I am sure we all have different definitions of these two thought provoking words, but the point I am trying to make is that each woman knows what is “right” for her.  Other people will have their opinions, but in the end you (and your partner) will be making the decision.

So, let me throw a non-traditional thought out there with these questions: What are you going to do if your father is not walking you down the aisle?  Actually, I am getting you ready for the questions people will ask you.  Again, there is no “right” and “wrong” way to walk down the aisle, but there are some very strongly held opinions that pervade our society for a reason.  Well, what’s your answer to the question?  Do you have an answer?  Do you care to have one?  Do you not think that people will ask?

What about this question?: What do you mean your family is not coming to your wedding?  Again, who says they have to be there in order for you to have a wonderful wedding like the millions of brides who get married every year?  No one, actually!

I am not trying to be cavalier about this.  These are questions that will come up, and even if you have made peace with the answers to these questions, you will find yourself unearthing many emotions that you thought you had already dealt with over and over again.  For me, it has been important to have a few responses.

Here’s how I dealt with some of these questions: 

What do you mean your parents aren’t coming?

Well, they are not coming.  No, it’s not because they cannot come.  It is because they are not very good at supporting me without conditions.

That’s one response.  It may or may not apply to you.

So, how come your dad’s not walking you down the aisle?

I am not very close with my Dad.  Actually, having him walk with me would be more stressful and would take away from the celebratory mood of this really wonderful day.  He is my dad by blood, but not by experience.

Basically, it was very important for me to “focus on the essence, and forget the form.”

When I realized that I did not actually want my biological father to have this role, but instead wanted the presence and support of fatherly figures who supported and loved me for who I was, then it became very clear that having my Dad walk me down the aisle would not add to the feeling of joy that I wanted to have on this day.

Don’t get me wrong here, it makes me really sad.  I listen to Father/Daughter dance songs and cry my eyes out.  It hurts! It hurts less today because I am no longer focused on feeling like the “form” has to be my actual blood relative.  The essence and how I wanted to feel became more important, which allowed me to ask for what I needed from my family of experience and actually be able to receive it.

I also feel sad that as of today, my mother will most likely not be there as well.  Again, I would love for my mother to be there because we are actually very similar in many ways.  My mother taught me a lot about what to do and what not to do in a relationship.  I am sure she feels very guilty about the ways in which she enabled my father to abuse her children.  But the choice to remain with my father and continue to enable his actions are her choices.

I will actually miss my mother’s “form” at my wedding. She emanates joy and is truly an amazing woman.  She taught me to dream and wish for anything, and I will always value that.  But again, the essence that I want to experience on this day includes support and love without conditions.  My mother is still very traditional, and both of my parents have decided that their decision to be supportive is based on the traditions of their home land more than the traditions of love.  When I thought about it, I realized that in both cases the essence was more important than the form.

Despite my upbringing (and maybe because of it), I can be very traditional.  I want a pretty normal wedding.  Yes, it will be a mix of cultures and traditions, but the essence of it will be joyful and full of love.  And for me, this matters more than the presence of a certain relative.  I am not asking you to agree with everything I say and my choices, I am just asking you to realize that you have your bridal right to choose, and that you should use it.

Do you want to feel loved and supported on your wedding day? Bring people together who help you feel that way.  Do you want to feel seen for who you are?  Maybe you should think about being honest about your circumstances and allowing others to fully see you for who you are so they can see you through your wedding day.  There will be many emotions, but this is what our lives are here to offer us: Many opportunities to let ourselves be seen and loved.  And boy does that require massive amounts of tissues!