Wedding Etiquette: Kristi and Christy

Parent Trap

Kristi is getting married soon and would like her biological father to walk her down the aisle, but she hasn't spoken with him in 14 years. She's afraid of asking him to attend her wedding for fear of rejection, but she has always dreamed of having him give her away.

She's torn: Should she risk possible rejection and invite him to her wedding, or should she play it safe and not invite him, never knowing if he would have attended?

Dr. Phil asks, "If he's been like a complete jerk, why do you want him to walk you down the aisle?"

"I guess it's every girl's dream to have their dad walk them down the aisle," answers Kristi.

Dr. Phil's advice to Kristi is simple " "I would get the invitation, I would get in the car, I would drive up there, I would ring the bell, and say 'I'm getting married on this date and I want to know if you will come and walk me down the aisle. And I want to know, yes or no.' If he says no, and that's bad news, then the sooner you know and start that healing process, the better off you are. If he says yes, then you can relax and plan the rest of your wedding. But I think you've got to deal with that first and find out whether he's coming or whether he's not."

Dr. Phil continues, "And [on your way home from here], you need to decide if you want him to say 'yes,' if the symbolism outweighs the reality of your relationship and where you are in your life."

"If he didn't walk you down the aisle, who would?" Dr. Phil asks.

"My step dad and my mom," Kristi says.

Dr. Phil replies, "How would that feel to you?"

"Comforting, knowing that they've been in my life and they've played a significant part in my life and the success that I've had in my life," Kristi answers.

"So, that would feel good and right that they have been with you to this point," Dr. Phil says. "But then there's the symbolic part of your biological father walking you down the aisle too. It seems to me that you have two options and both of them are positives in your view. So, you can't lose in this situation can you? You just haven't thought of it that way."

Christy's parents divorced when she was in the second grade; her mother remains bitter and does not communicate with her ex-husband. Christy was counting on her mom to help plan her wedding, but says her mom refuses to help if Christy invites her dad.

"I asked my mom not too long ago what she wanted to be involved with and if she'd be able to help my dad and step mom help plan the wedding and her response was 'Just let them plan it.' I went home crying and my jaw dropped when she said that to me."

Christy says, "I want her to help me plan the entire thing. She's making me feel guilty and making me feel bad, but she doesn't think that she is ... She doesn't feel that there is a problem, that there's any reason for me to be stressed."
"This is a selfish act on her part and you need to declare your position on this," says Dr. Phil. "You need to say, 'Here's what I want you to do. I want you to be a part of my wedding. I want you to be involved in it, but you know what? I don't want you running your own agenda. I don't want to be standing there at my wedding feeling like I'm in a tug of war with my father.'"
"You've got to understand this isn't about you," says Dr. Phil. "This is about her. This is about her running her own agenda. Your attitude has got to be, 'The door is open, I want you here,' but it's not a matter of will she come, it should be a matter of will you let her come. And the price of admission is that she grow up and stop being so selfish as to wad your life up and throw it in the corner."

Dr. Phil concludes, "And if she says she doesn't want any part of it, then you've got to say, 'Mom, Grandma, we're going to miss you. But I'm giving myself permission to claim this day, and I'm giving myself permission to get happy, and I'm going to give myself what I wish you would give me, which is I'm going to be there for me and I'm going to have my own support and I'm going to plan this and be happy about it and go on.'"