Wedding Customs & Traditions Forum

I have a very dysfunctional family. Help! (very long, sorry)

Ok, first off a little background. I lived with my mother for only a few short years, my grandparents have raised me. My mom has had numerous husbands and is on hubby number 6, yes folks..6! He is actually a terrific man, and my favorite out of them all! I am honored he has stepped out of the stereotype stepparent role and has taken an honest shot at trying to be there for me. (as best as he can since I was 21 when they married.) They have been married for 6 years now and I can honestly say that if, god forbid, they split he wouldn't pull a "skip" on me like the others. You know the type, all about being "daddy" until shit goes south and then, "I am not your dad and I am not married to your mom anymore do not contact me" (yes her ex before current husband said that to me and I was a very vulnerable 16 year old. Needless to say it was crushing and part of the reason I am so torn on this whole subject) 

back to topic, sorry. Now my mom has always been a "friend" and not a mom by any definition. She lived in the same city as my grandparents and I from age 2-7 and she would swing by occasionally. Mainly for money and when her boyfriends would kick her out. When I was 7 she was dating a man who didn't want a woman with "kids"....I say kids with quotes because, well..yea. anyway She picked up and moved out of state. I didn't hear from her again, regularly until I was 13. There is a lot of story in the middle but the point is is she is more my friend than a mother. I have an internal battle daily on not wanting to hurt her feelings, funny huh?, by verbalizing that I respect and consider my grandma more of a mom than her. The point is is that my grandma deserves to be the one at the ceremony to be "the mother of the bride". I do not know how to approach such situations since my mother is a ridiculously conning woman who can flip any situation around and make it out to be the victim.

Now, onto my grandfather. Really nothing to say except he is the best human being I have ever known in my entire life, a real stand up man. I OBVIOUSLY want him to walk me down the aisle, but at the same time I kind of really want my step dad to as well. but for some reason I do not like the idea of them both walking me at the same time on opposite sides of me. I don't know if it is because my grandpa has been there this whole time and step dad is only in the first act? idk...but I would like to figure out a solution to this dilemma which is the actual reason for this thread!! LOL

Nowww onto my biological dad. He was in my life when I was an infant for the first few months until my mom kept demanding she didn't want him in my life etc etc etc. We have only seen each other MAYYYBE 20 times my whole 27 years of life (I also lived 4 states away). I have been dancing around the thought of inviting him, but again don't want to hurt any feelings, especially since he will not be walking me down the aisle. 

*totally OT, (ADD, SORRY) why do I have such an issue with the idea of hurting peoples feelings when they have hurt me? anyway...tangent, sorry again it is 1:45AM and this is emotional stuff just pouring out for some reason. The whole situation has since getting engaged. :-/

My paternal grandparents. They are awesome people. We email often, they have always cared and tried to stay in contact my entire life, couldn't really be involved since we lived 4 states apart. Now, the awkward part. My FI and I are thinking about having the wedding at their country club. I think my worry/fear is that, again, I am a little worried about hurting their feelings. They have always been saddened by the lack of relationship my bio and I have. I also feel weird for some reason, even though I am sure they honestly don't care, to show any happiness towards my step dad if I know they can see or will be there (even on FB). why? your guess is as good as mine. anyway the point. If we have the wedding at their country club, and my bio comes, and isn't walking me down the aisle,....but my step dad/grandpa are....I just don't want to have any concerns on my big day that their might be conflict. or worrying the whole time about what are both parties thinking? who all is talking about it yada yada. 

So..let me clarify my questions. What should I do about who walks me down the aisle and how can I approach the situation with the paternal grands? Should I give them a heads up on who is walking me down the aisle (when I make a decision)? Should I spare my mothers feelings and be honest with her about how I feel about the relationship we have, as well as how much more I rank my grandmother?

Re: I have a very dysfunctional family. Help! (very long, sorry)

  • That was incredibly long, thank you to anyone who took the time to read and/or offer advice. As you can tell I have had a strange up bringing and used to get therapy as a child and will probably go again after the wedding. 

    I do not know why the engagment opened up all of these unresolved emotions. 
  • CMGragain said:
    My family is similar to yours.  Mother was a piece of work.  When DH proposed, he offered me a life 1100 miles away from her.

    I would ask Grandpa to escort you down the aisle.  Sit your mother and your grandparents together on the front row.  Mom will want to glory in the role of MOB.  Have her seated right after MOG and your grandparents.  You do not have to explain your choices to ANYONE.

    Talking to your mother about your relationship will solve nothing.  If she felt guilty about the way she treated you as a child (a normal person would), she would have brought it up long ago.  Your mother has Narcissistic personality disorder.  She was not capable of empathizing with you, or being the mother you needed. She will be in denial about her own failings.   You are lucky to have had loving grandparents.

    You need to read this book.

    I am ordering that book as we speak! Thank you for your response. I was actually thinking about potentially having my grandpa walk me half way and pass me off to my step dad and then having him walk me the rest of the way.. Maybe as a way to symbolize my life events. My grandfather was there in the beginning until step dad "took over" (i know i was an adult but you get the point) and now he hands me off to the groom and it is his turn to "take care" of me or however you want to explain it. and then when the officiant asks who gives me away they both can say "we do". I want them both to feel special and them both to feel honored and I really want to make sure my grandpa doesn't think I am not grateful for raising me from toddler to 18 when he "didn't have too". But I also want my step dad to feel the same way and for him to know I am grateful for the relationship we were able to create even though I went into it completely close minded and with a very larrrrrrrrrrrge guard up. 
  • The person who walks you down the aisle is simply your escort.  There is no other significance.  Anyone can do this, but it is your place to choose who this person will be.
    Many ceremonies include the question, "Who presents this woman to be united in marriage with this man?" or similar wording.  This is usually optional these days.  At my ceremony, my uncle replied, "Her family does."  That simplified things.
    I think you will enjoy the book.  My mother died in October.  I was hoping that she would have some indication of affection for me, but there was nothing.  Nada.  There I was, 62 years old, still hoping for the impossible.
  • holyguacamole79holyguacamole79 a taco truck in Houston member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    OP, remember that you can always walk down the aisle on your own. 
  • chibiyuichibiyui The Boring Part of MD member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    Some advice regarding worrying about hurting other peoples feelings. 

    Stop worrying. 

    Your paternal grandparents surely know their son has not been involved in your life. Unless they're assholes, they're not going to hold it against you if your maternal grandfather and step dad walk you down the aisle.

    Some people might wonder, or even have their feelings hurt by who walks you down the aisle. That is their problem, not yours, because it is entirely your choice who walks you down the aisle. With dysfunctional families you can't please everyone, and it's not worth it to worry. 

  • Your family situation is why it is at this point and I think trying to explain your choices (made because of the way you see things) will only open a can of worms. Just make your choice and inform people. You don't need to justify, explain, or change anything. And it'll be better if you don't.

    - your maternal grandfather walks with you. All the way. No relay with step dad.
    - processional = MOG, MOB, maternal grandma, then wedding party (if having), then you.

    First dances:
    If you're doing this at all, I'd probably go with your grandfather here too.

    Ceremony seating:
    First row - your maternal grandparents, your siblings w/ SOs (if any), and your mom/stepdad,
    Second row - your paternal grandparents, your dad.

    Introductions at reception:
    Just do the bride and groom. That's what we did. Not because drama but because it was simpler and took less time.

    Involve your mom in as little as you like. She has chosen to do the same with you in her life. She sounds very manipulative. It also sounds like you can see right through her. Don't let her get to you. If she is as you say, she will try to seem close to you and as if her "little girl is getting married". Unless she has had a heart to heart with you about her despicable life choices and apologized for not being a mother, any attempt of here's to act like you're buddy/buddy are grade A manipulation.

    I would not take her dress shopping when you go, I would not include her in anything. She is a guest - as she has been your whole life.

    zitiqueen[Deleted User]Southerngrl08levioosa
  • Omg! I thought I was the only person in the world with a dysfunctional family. So glad I'm not alone. My mother is the same way. I do not plan on giving her ANY spotlight. She just wants to be there to take credit and so people don't speak I'll of her if she doesn't show. I pray everything works out for you!
  • Southerngrl108, since you will already be married, you can't have anyone at your wedding.  You cannot have a wedding when you are already married.  Just because your FI/husband is military doesn't mean the rules change for YOU.
  • Wow, a lot to deal with, here is what I would do if I were in your situation

    • Grandmother - get her a beautiful corsage and have fun planning w/her and shopping for her dress and your dress together
    • Grandfather - I would have him walk you down the isle. He has been the constent male role model in your life and has earned that privledge
    • Bio Father - invite him, if he comes great, with not really having a close relationship I'm sure he wont be shocked not to walk you down the isle. I wouldn't even bring up the subject of walking you down the isle unless he does
    • Step Dad - Even though he has been your favorite stepdad, I probably would just get him a nice boutinerre so he stands out as a VIP
    • Mom - corsage and have her escorted to her seat shortly before ceremony starts as a place of honor like you would do if you had a better relationship with her. Make sure Grandma gets escorted to her seat also during that time
    • Bio dad's parents - since you communicate with them, no reason you can't invite them as guests if you want to. They know what your relationship is with your dad and that you've lived your life with your other grandparents raising you. I'm sure they won't be shocked that you will have your grandfather walk you down the isle.

    You may want to skip a unity candle to avoid the whole who do I have light the candle to respresent me. Also on your invite, to avoid hurt feelings you can word your invite to be Jane Smith & Bob Jones invite you to join them.....   or Jane Smith and Bob Jones along with their families invite you to join them....  This way you avoid any hurt feelings about whose names did or didn't appear on the invite.

  • My advice: first and foremost toss the need to not offend people out the window.

    I'm blessed with a loving family, but my fiancee's is a bit more like yours (a disaster). He tells me he's done with trying to make good impressions or keep people happy. He's a grown man and will do things in whatever way makes him most happy and comfortable. We are skipping several "traditions" because of this (bridal party, wedding registries, mother-son dance, default invites to all family members just because they're family). I love him for having reached this point in his life when he knows himself well enough to recognize this. I hope you can do the same.

    Your wedding = your choices :)
  • Oh, gosh, I found someone in a similar situation as I!  I just posted about my situation in another forum and I'm finding a similar issue with my own mother.  If my paternal grandparents (who raised me and are now decased) were alive, it'd be so much easier.  But it is what it is. 

    In taking the advice from other Knotties, I'm just doing what feels right and what is right for me.  i'm not going to worry about hurt feelings but I also am not going to worry too much about others tring to take glory when it all goes to my grandparents.  I won't give them a platform, but if they're as narcissistic as I think they are, they are doing it anyway.  but in that same vein we're cutting some of this ''tradition' stuff to call it a day---and stop us short from saying F it all and eloping.  :)

  • (and a side note--- nothing wrong with eloping!  We don't want to elope on account of a few bad apples, meaning, it's not our choice by allowing someone else to make that choice for us through their bad behavior!)
  • Walk yourself down the aisle, seat your mother, step-father, & grandparents on the front row.  Eloping sounds really good too.
  • I've got a crazy family too, and I definitely feel you about being worried about hurting people's feelings.

    At the end of the day, if people are going to grump about your wedding choices they will do so no matter how much you try to accommodate them. It's really hard not to take it personally, but you have to try to remember that they're just negative people and have no right to treat you that way.

    It sounds to me like you have a good idea in your mind about how you would like things to be and the roles you would like different members of your family to take. Stick to your guts. It's your day and the people who truly honor you and make you feel special are the only ones that deserve to actively take part in it.

    You are under no obligation to explain your choices to anyone, but if you're really worried that people are going to be upset it might not be the worst idea to make sure everyone knows the plan beforehand. Maybe you could make a wedding website with all the details for your ceremony once you have them finalized. Then if anybody has an issue you they can approach you before you're trying to walk down the aisle. I wouldn't go out of my way to contact family members to explain the situation because people like your mother might use that as an excuse to be unpleasant.

    Based on what you said about your family, I bet your maternal grandparents and your step-dad will be doing most of the work helping you get ready for your wedding, so their progression into "MOB/FOB" roles during the event will seem pretty natural to everyone. :-)
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