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Ex-etiquette: With a wedding bonusdad dilemma, sometimes truth is the simplest solution

Jann Blackstone, Tribune News Service on

Published in Family Living

Q. My father and mother broke up when I when I was 10, and a few years later my mom married my bonusdad. He is truly a bonus to my life and has been there for me through everything, just as my father has. I’m getting married next month and I'm struggling with the same problem so many face. Who walks me down the aisle? I would like to honor them both and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. What’s good ex-etiquette?

A. If you are struggling with this dilemma, that means both your dad and bonusdad treated you with love and kindness. If they hadn’t, the answer would be obvious, and you wouldn’t be asking the question. So, from that standpoint, kudos to dad and bonusdad for putting you first (Ex-etiquette For Parents Rule #1). However, it does present a problem if you want to honor both men but don’t want to step on toes.

The beauty of getting married today is you can design a wedding exactly as you like. There are no set rules for anything. When my bonusdaughter got married, there was no bonusdad in her life, but she was very close to her grandfather and even though her dad and I were divorced at the time, she still wanted me to participate in some way. Her solution was that I walked her grandpa down the aisle prior to her dad walking her down the aisle. It was a lovely way to acknowledge our importance in her life and I will be forever grateful she included me. Her grandfather passed away not long after she was married. It was a lovely tribute.

My oldest daughter chose to have her bonusdad walk her halfway down the aisle to where her father sat waiting. He then stood and walked her the rest of the way, eventually answering the age-old question, “Who gives this woman?” Dad then took his place in the front row and watched the rest of the ceremony. Her bonusdad sat in the second row. Where was I? Taking the photographs. Don’t do that.


We’ve all seen the videos on Facebook and YouTube of dads and bonusdads walking a daughter down the aisle together. They are lovely, but that may not be the answer for everyone. If you can do that, it’s the simple answer, but if you are concerned about hurting feelings, consider some of the suggestions above. Here are a few other ways you might honor both men.

For example, dad walks you down the aisle, but you reserve a special dance at the reception for your bonusdad. Or, one of the most touching solutions I have seen is the bride gave a speech at the reception, asking her bonusdad to stand, and then openly told him how grateful she was for his love and support over the years. She started her speech stating the very dilemma you face: “I have two dads. This presents a dilemma when you decide to get married. And although I chose to have my wonderful biological dad walk me down the aisle, I want to acknowledge someone who has taken me under his wing and protected me since the day he married my mom.”

Sometime the truth is the simplest answer. That’s good ex-etiquette.

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