Instead of having a father-daughter dance at my wedding, I’m going to be having a grandmother-granddaughter dance. My parents got divorced when I was two years old and my mother gave custody of me to my grandparents when I was two. As a result I think of my grandparents as my parents. I even call my grandmother “Mom.” I also think of grandfather as having been my dad, unfortunately he passed away when I was nine. If my grandfather were still with us he would be the one giving me away, dancing with me at the reception, etc. My biological father and I are not especially close, and I’m not even sure if he’s invited to the wedding at this point. So my grandmother has agreed to dance with me in my grandfather’s honor. It makes total sense to me, but I’m afraid my guests will think it’s weird. How do I explain this to other people? I am also at total loss as to what song to pick, any suggestions?
This is the sort of situation where I get to remind you that weddings are about real life, and not about fitting some mandatory script. Sometimes there isn’t a small child to carry a pillow down the aisle. Sometimes you (shock!) don’t have an equal number of close male and female friends who are willing to stand up front in matching attire. Luckily, weddings are about honoring the real people in your real life, rather than trying to figure out how to squeeze loved ones into the pre-formed molds. You wanna honor grandmom? That’s awesome, and I think a special dance will be touching and sweet.
So, you’re on board with that. I’m on board with that. But what to do about those pesky wedding guests, right? For starters, the nameless wedding guest usually deserves more credit than we give him. Out of a wedding for 150 people, you might have two or three random relatives with stinky opinions and lacking tact. But that’s not such a bad statistic, is it? Most folks will go with the flow of whatever is happening at the wedding—especially if it’s endearing and involves little old ladies. I’d guess the majority of them will more likely think, “How sweet! A dance with grandmom!” rather than, “WAIT, WHAT ABOUT DAD?” Beyond that, as Rachel pointed out, your wedding guests are actual people, with faces and names and a history with you. Chances are, most of the ones you know well enough to invite to your wedding, probably know who raised you.
But we can be grateful for the few, the proud: the obtuse. Because of Great-Aunt Helen’s inability to recognize that it might not be appropriate to ask why you didn’t dance with your dad, you’re going to get a taste of random people having opinions about your decisions (solicited or not). Pessimistic as it sounds, get used to it now. There always will be someone who thinks your decisions are weird. So, what you get to do in response is determine what you’re comfortable sharing and when (which is a bit of a learning process).
At the end of the day, this decision impacts only you and your grandmom (and tangentially, mom and dad). Which means that what everyone else thinks doesn’t really matter. I’m serious, it doesn’t. If you can really embrace that idea, it’ll help you firm up your resolve about things being the way they are. If you stutter or upspeak or say it with uncertainty, you’re just giving an open invitation for Uncle Nosy to jump in and tell you exactly what he thinks, with some added harrumphing. Instead, with that conviction that what’s happening is happening for good reason, you can talk about it honestly and kindly (honest and kind! It’s like my ATP motto), and within the bounds of whatever you feel comfortable sharing. “Nana is really important to me and I want to honor her,” states the truth without sharing any of the nitty-gritty that might make you uncomfortable. It’s an art, speaking your mind in a way that both doesn’t give away more than you’d like, and doesn’t invite advice. It just takes practice.
Now to your last part—song ideas. I’m not so great with the music picking, but you know who is? Our readers. So, let’s hear it guys. What’s a good song for a sweet and meaningful dance with grandmom? And while we’re at it, what traditions did you tweak to fit your loved ones? Did you face friction over those changes?
Editor’s Note: Pride week is next month, which means that in keeping with past years, Ask Team Practical will be handed over to one of our longtime LGBTQ readers to answer LGBTQ-specific questions about wedding planning, marriage, relationships, and anything else you can think of. We’re still fielding questions, so if you would like Team Practical’s advice, send them in right here.
Photo Gabriel Harber
If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!