11

So I got this situation going on:

My sister is going to get married and doesn't want my father to escort her to the altar. She wants me to do it. My father has been told that he shall not escort her, and since then he's been holding a grudge and has been threatening to "sabotage" the wedding so my sister won't have any fun at it.

The relationship between my father and us (his children) is not the best. Even now he often ruins family meetings for at least 1 person without really noticing, and seems to be pretty thin-skinned.


How can I solve this situation with the following goals?

Goals in order of importance

  • Have my father attend the wedding without sabotaging it.
  • Have my father accept her decision without holding a grudge.
  • Not threaten him in any way to force the points above.

To answer a few questions that are not clear:

Q: Does he have an idea about why your sister doesn't want him to walk with her to the altar?

A: I am not sure if he knows all the reasons, but the biggest seems to be his look. My sister told me that she want someone good-looking to accompany her. because of this there is no way my sister would want him to accompany her.

Q: Does he feel the same as you, i.e. does he think that he has a difficult relationship with you and your sister?

A: I think he knows that the relationship is not very good, but I doubt he realizes that his actions are sometimes counter-productive.

Q: What arguments have you tried?

A: I haven't talked to him since then and I don't know what my sister used as arguments (if they even talked about it thoroughly).

Q: What arguments are you planning to use?

A: I thought about telling him that it's my sisters wedding and that it is her decision and I fully support her. Sadly I have no idea how I could get him to actually accept it and not act out on it.

Q: What should answers take into account?

A: The main goal of any answer would be the goals stated above. I am happy with any input that can help me achieve all/some of the goals.

Q: What not to advise because it won't work?

A: To tell you the truth, I have absolutely no idea. I only barely talk with my father (like once every 2-3 months for a few hours). He moved out more than 10 years ago and since then I have no participation in his life and don't know what's going on or how he changed (I am a bit introverted).


Feel free to ask any questions that araise and edit the question for language and format.

  • 1
    Does your sister's ideal solution involve the father actually attending the wedding (just as a guest?) or keeping him away from the event altogether? – user8671 May 28 '18 at 7:37
  • @Kozaky As you can see from the stated goals, he should attend the wedding. Since he has no responsibilities I know of, I'd say he should attand as a guest – XtremeBaumer May 28 '18 at 7:39
  • Also you haven't indicated whether your father upsets people verbally or physically. If the worst case scenario is a few really nasty psychological insults, that puts a different complexion on things than if he's likely to try to get violent. – Pharap May 28 '18 at 15:45
  • 1
    @Pharap He is not necessarily insulting someone, but he is going to destroy the mood with what he says. It would be no problem if he was going to get violent. Also my sister actually wants him to come, just not walking her down the aisle – XtremeBaumer May 28 '18 at 17:14
24

This isn't just any old decision, like what we're having for dinner tonight or should I get a haircut. This is a once-in-a-lifetime public thing. Every single wedding guest will see that her father isn't walking her down the aisle and will draw conclusions from that, like that maybe he is absent or abusive or otherwise not really her father. Not a single person will think "yeah, he's not as attractive as her brother, makes sense."

I suggest you, your sister, and your father sit together and you help them work through some questions. For example:

  • what does it mean to walk her down the aisle? Emotionally, is this a way for your father to show he is proud of her? Approves of the marriage? Is it a public "father role" that lets him show off a little to the friends and family who are present? Why does he want to do it?
  • what does it mean to your sister to choose you instead of him? What does she get (other than the "look" of her ceremony) from making this choice? Why does she want to do it?
  • is there another way your father could be honoured and included in the ceremony while not walking her down the aisle? Sitting at the head table, giving a speech at the reception, doing a reading or speech during the ceremony, walking someone else down the aisle, any other way?
  • does your father really intend to spoil the ceremony because of his anger over not walking her down the aisle? After he hears her reasons?
  • does your sister really value "the look" more than "this is my father and we are following tradition"? Even after hearing what it means to him?

Ideally after this conversation the three of you can choose a solution that works for everyone, understanding what everyone has at stake.

  • 2
    I'd nix letting him talk. That just gives him a platform to ruin things. But I am all for giving him an important non-speaking role. – Erin Thursby Jun 1 '18 at 4:31
6

What you are asking is pretty much impossible. Because as has been pointed out-- you cannot control the behavior of others.

Goals in order of importance

Have my father attend the wedding without sabotaging it. Have my father accept her decision without holding a grudge. Not threaten him in any way to force the points above.

The first goal is tough, but I have been the Maid of Honor at many a wedding where it has been my job to ensure that difficult parents don't get to do such things. It's possible, but tricky.

What you need is a dad-wrangler. Someone who he might be embarrassed to act out in front of (perhaps a friendly near-stranger, someone who can be nice to him but that he has no beef with).

For my best friend, I sweetly informed him at the rehearsal dinner that the bride-to-be was worried about so much that I would be handling her phone for the duration and that any problems or questions he might have should go through me first.

For another friend, I regulated the amount of alcohol that the mother of the bride got, ensuring that she stayed "in the happy zone" but didn't get enough to be belligerent. I did this by saying that she shouldn't have to wait in line, and getting all her alcohol for her.

At my own wedding, I assigned buddies to problem people, asking them to handle or wrangle those folks, keeping them amused, talking and out of trouble.

A mix of flattery can help. And in some cases, not to be crass, boobs. I don't know if your father is married, but I have found that a pretty woman who can compliment a man on how wonderful they are being... it can really really help.

Your wrangler has to be really extra good with people and know how far to push things.

Point two--not holding a grudge--

This one is less controllable. Not much you can do here. guy sounds like a narcissist, and it needs to be all about them.

WAYS TO MAKE IT ALL ABOUT HIM

1) His little girl is getting married, and he's bravely allowing her to walk down the aisle with you because he's a gentleman and an excellent father. (Keep saying this, even if it isn't true).

2) He'd never make a scene either because that would PROVE to her and ALL THE GUESTS she was right in her decision.

3) If he asks if you support her decision, say "I've talked to her. It's ultimately her decision but I know you're a good father and want to be there for her whatever way she wants. We're close and she wants non-traditional. Of course you won't make a scene. That wouldn't be classy and would just make other people present think less of you, rather than just that she decided to walk with her brother."

Now as to point 3--"not threaten him in any way to force points above" You are simply pointing out what people will think of him as a result of his behavior.

Throw him a bone.

See if your sister will give him SOMETHING. A father daughter dance for instance, would be a really good idea, something that puts him in the spotlight, without giving him a platform. (I would not let him to a speech given the circumstances).

  • 1
    "Not threaten him" is only #3 on your priority list. And he gave you a good reason (threatening disruptive behaviour) to consider threatening him an option :) – rackandboneman Jun 14 '18 at 7:11
5

Remember that you can't control how other feel or behave.

If your father wants to sabotage the wedding he will. If he wants to hold a grudge, he will.

The only thing you can control is how you feel about it, and I mean, doing your best to fullfill the wedding with your father.

You can't do your best if you don't explain clearly to your father that he ruins family meeting and why your sister doesn't want him to attend her wedding. It will be hard to decide to tell him all of this, but do it, or you will think for ever "What if..."

Speak with him, give him time to think about it, then take action after his decision.

  • He still acts like a child => No wedding, but you did your best
  • He understands and will behave correctly => Goal achieved

Remember, communication, even if it's hard, is the best way to solve problem only if both part listen to each other

Good luck

4

It is tradition that the father walks the bride down the aisle and presents her to the husband. A wedding is (supposed to be) a once-in-a-lifetime celebration, so this is your fathers only chance. Depending on how old and traditional he is, he will never forgive your sister. He may hold a grudge for the rest of his life.

Try to look at it from your fathers perspective: His daughter is getting married and he is not allowed to walk her down the aisle, without proper reason! Bad looks or bad manners are not a proper reason to deny him this honor!

The only reasons I personally can think of are:

  • He is an abusive father and your sister doesn't even want to see him
  • He is currently in jail or cannot attend the wedding for other reasons
  • He failed his family in another, very grief way and does not deserve any honor

If he is not walking his daughter down the aisle, all wedding guests will think exactly that about him, and he knows it. The guests will ask him questions and he has no dignified answer to them. He will feel bad at the "most wonderful day" of his daughter and his bad mood alone will cause disturbances at the wedding.

My proposal is:

  • No matter what, let your father walk her down the aisle. You cannot deny him this honor and preserve piece in the family. The walk down the aisle is just a few moments long, compared to the whole wedding day and the following years of grudge.
  • If his looks are a concern, make plans to make him look good at the wedding. Buy a tuxedo or similar outfit that fits him well. Schedule a haircut / professional shave at the morning of the wedding or the day before. Send him to a professional cosmetician.
  • tell him unambiguously: Either he behaves and looks great at the wedding day, or he looses his opportunity.

I don't know how your father looks like, but you can dress up anyone. If he is very fat, there are tuxedoes that make him look leaner (like in this image). You know Gildo Horn, the crazy singer who doesn't look good by any standard? Even he can dress up (see this image). It's not about measurable beauty, it's about the effort.

2

The key here is that you cannot control your father's actions or feelings. You cannot prevent him from holding a grudge. He may do so even if he does walk your sister down the aisle because of some other perceived slight.

he's been holding a grudge and has been threatening to "sabotage" the wedding ...

Even now he often ruins family meetings for at least 1 person without really noticing, and seems to be pretty thin-skinned.

Given these statements, your and her goals are unrealistic. He ruins current gatherings without trying very hard. He will also be slighted no matter what happens, so we know he will ruin this event for more than one person.

IMHO, you are looking to talk to the wrong person. It should be your sister instead of your father. I would advise her to hire security for her wedding with the intended purpose of keeping your father from attending. Also they could remove a guest that attempts to disrupt this party.

The wedding is all about the bride, some people don't get that, and some very self-centered people think it is about them. Your father, from what you have relayed falls into the latter group. So your sister has one of two choices:

1) Hire security and do not invite your father. 2) Have your father attending knowing full well that he will disrupt her special day.

Number 2 is going to happen even if he promises to be on his best behavior. He does it at parties to which he does not come already offended.

If it was me, I would say to him:

I am sorry dad, but you cannot attend sister's wedding. You have already threatened to ruin the party, and you do so as a matter of course anyway, so I do not doubt your ability. There will be security there to prevent you from attending and you will be prosecuted for trespassing if you attempt to attend.

One of the things that good parents try to instill in their children is that there are consequences to one's behavior. It is difficult and painful when a child has to remind a parent/uncle/grandparent of this lesson, but it is necessary.

  • Since my sister wants him to attend its sadly no way to invite him or hire security to not have him attend in any way. – XtremeBaumer May 29 '18 at 14:26
1

My foster sister has a very difficult guardian who's not willing to pay for anything she could need, even though he has the money and that's part of his legal obligations. He refused to pay for her education, and it has come to a point where he does not give her any grocery money or food and my siblings and I ended up giving her a regular amount of money so that she can simply not starve. Needless to say my sister really resents him and does not want to see him anymore. He struggles to understand that. I believe he doesn't see what he could have done wrong and how he has hurt her, because for him, "she needs to pay for her own stuff because I paid for my own education and driver license". Sometimes people do not realize the harm they do because of different opinions about the situation.

I think one thing that might be useful is to have a discussion with your father and try to understand:

Does he have an idea about why your sister doesn't want him to walk with her to the altar? Does he feel the same as you, i.e. does he think that he has a difficult relationship with you and your sister?

It is important to try to understand why your father is upset that he won't accompany his daughter. Either it is because he cares about her and then, maybe he doesn't realize that he makes you and your sister suffer, or he's aware of the difficult relationship between him and you and wants to accompany her because "these are things we do". In the first case, I would suggest you try to explain to him that he has some behaviors that hurt you, and that that's the reason why your sister chose you instead. If your sister agrees, of course, and depending how he reacts to the announcement that he hurts you, maybe he could be told he could accompany her if he says he'll behave.

In the second case, then I'm not sure there is any other option than to tell him that it's your sister's big day and that she chooses whatever she wants to do. This decision doesn't prevent her from caring about him, but she chose not to take the risk he doesn't behave during the ceremony. He might need to hear and understand this.

Either way, since you've warned your father is thin-skinned, I suggest you try to develop some skills in Non-Violent Communication to approach the painful topic with as much tact as possible. I hope this helps, and wish you the best.

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