DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter is getting married. Her biological dad and I divorced when she was about 2, and I’ve been with her stepfather since she was 4. Her biological father was in her life very (VERY) sporadically the first few years, and then he wasn’t at all.
He tried to reconnect when she was in her early 20s, but it was awkward for both of them, and it never really developed. When he remarried and moved out of state, there was some contact from the new wife -- trying to get to know my daughter and bring her and her dad closer, I’m presuming.
All this being said, my daughter wants to invite them to the wedding, which I thought was nice and the right thing to do. My concern is that there won’t be any acknowledgment of him as her “father” -- no walking down the aisle, no father-daughter dance, no boutonniere.
This is totally my daughter’s decision, and I understand completely where she is coming from. But I am worried about inviting him and then making him feel bad, awkward or whatever the case may be.
GENTLE READER: It is likely no surprise to her father that they are not close. But if it is your daughter’s intention to have her stepfather perform those duties, there may indeed be awkwardness and hurt feelings.
A gracious way around it -- and one that Miss Manners recommends in your case -- is to have you, her mother, walk her down the aisle. You could dance with her, too -- or forgo that particular tradition, at least as a viewer spectacle -- and she might find time to dance with all of the parents and stepparents later in the reception.
As Miss Manners has repeatedly emphasized, it is the actual people involved and not the casting of (particularly gendered) roles that is important. Whatever traditions the bride thinks she is upholding should be adapted as much as possible in order to avoid hurt feelings.