Adventures of a Wedding Belle – The Difficult Second Post

It’s time for the gorgeous Bella to make her second appearance on our peachy pages. And as exciting and -oh-goodness-there’ll-only-be-10-more-posts-til-the-wedding! that is, today’s piece focuses on the harder aspects of being engaged, particularly when you come from a step-family. I have so much empathy for Bella as I come from a similar family set-up myself and I’m sure there’s many of you out there who have experienced something like this. Give her a big, squishy Internet-hug and some lovely words AOWers, go on.
As soon as my first piece went live I started panicking about what to write about next. I’d sorted my venue, the church, the food, the save the dates. It’s a little soon for me to start my crafty bits, my bridesmaids are spread across the world so dresses aren’t really top priority now and Betrothed has stopped me from emailing stag ideas. (I have to say though, he loved them all!)
There are the flowers, I suppose, and as I’m going for the seasonal look I should probably get on that sharpish.
So, ok, the flowers, this will be a post about flowers. Their meanings, importance to me, the fields upon fields of glorious blooms. Or should it be about the dress? I found one, it went out of stock, it came back in again and I bought it. Ok, this post will be about the dress. The frothiness that isn’t frothy, the colour that I can’t quite describe, the potential accessories. Hold on.  I think this should be more about my general wedding feelings, my plans to re-appropriate the word ‘Bridezilla’ because it is just the most frustrating word ever.
So come mid- September and I thought I was set for this, my second diary entry – flowers, dress, re-appropriating the word Bridezilla.
I couldn’t have imagined the huge, heart-breaking tidal wave of upset about to come my way, which has made it hard to write about all about the above.
As Aisling explained last month, my first submission to this gorg blog was about step families. More specifically it was about the thought processes and difficult decision making that goes into deciding who gives you away. For some people this will be obvious – biological dad all the way, but for others it isn’t so simple. My stepfather is giving me away. I had thought about it for a while and how to deal with it (no father of the bride speech, both of them doing the ‘who gives this woman’ bit) to make everyone as comfortable as possible. But I didn’t want to give up being given away by the man who has worked incredibly hard to be my dad.
For context, it would probably help to paraphrase a bit of my original submission:
Throughout all the steps of mine and Betrothed’s relationship, my stepfather (Dad as I call him) has mopped up the tears, helped pay for flights, been the patient ear when I felt like I couldn’t make it work, and beamed proudly at the news that we are getting hitched next year. He is also the man who apologised for the male species when a different boy broke my heart, sent care parcels full of Bonne Maman goodies (that Mum would never buy) at University and bought me my first ever Filofax as a good luck present for my first ever job.
I haven’t taken my decision lightly, and may have to face the consequences of unhappy grandparents and absent guests, but I love both my father and my dad too much to not be honest with them and surely, on our wedding day, honesty really is the only policy?
Reading this (and the rest of the submission) back, I am literally shaking my head in disbelief at the simplicity of my thoughts. Did I genuinely think that honesty would be appreciated, and that understanding would prevail? Sadly, I actually did. More sadly, this wasn’t the case.
On the eve of our seven year meet-a-versary, I received a letter from my biological father, telling me how disappointed he was, which led to a very very distressing phone call raking over the past, a wee bit of emotional blackmail and embarrassingly loud sobbing in the street (for both of us, I have to be fair here) which led to a damaged headboard and a chipped phone and the biggest funk I think I have ever been in.
I don’t wish to say a bad word about my father, but I don’t understand why just because tradition dictates it, I should be given away by someone who doesn’t really know me, who has never met my fiancé and who feels like the only reason he should give me away is because he is biologically related to me. I didn’t ever consider having my mum give me away, or my beloved brother (both of whom are incredibly important to me) because to me, my step dad deserves to have that honour. At an age barely older than me (sorry mum, but you are a bit of a cougar!) he took on two very angry, difficult little girls and made them his daughters.
I am incredibly sorry that that might break some peoples’ hearts. I always knew this would be an issue, I was terrified of getting engaged because I knew I would have to have these awful discussions and deal with absent guests and angry phone calls. I don’t want to be dramatic about it. I want nothing more than to breath, accept this will always be tricky, and focus on us. Sadly that is something I cannot do. I feel devastated. Devastated that I have upset my father so much, devastated he may not come, devastated that he couldn’t take five minutes to understand how I might feel and how difficult it really is for me.
Yesterday I bought Brides magazine and You & Your Wedding, (blowing my no fripperies weekend plan) in the hope that I would get back in the wedding mood. No such luck.
I didn’t want this to be an utterly depressing read, so for that I am sorry, but in good conscious I couldn’t talk about flowers (although if anyone is interested, scabius for buttonholes – seriously, what a disgusting name – delphiniums for bridesmaid’s bouquets and lots of random coloured flowers for everywhere else) or the dress (high street, so unusual, I love) because over the last few weeks I have relied on the AOW community to remind me what it important in all of this, and for that you all deserve honesty.
The marriage. The commitment Betrothed and I are making to each other, our future and what we need: these vital bits are what you guys have brought home to me, so thank you from the absolute bottom of my heart.
Thanks to all of you (and the patience of my bridesmaids and sanity of Betrothed) I haven’t launched myself into motherhood, moved to the remote countryside or quit my job to join a country band in Tennessee – all coping mechanisms I have been tempted to fall back on over the last 15 years.
Here’s to focusing on the marriage, not just the wedding. To focusing on love, not tradition. And I promise that next month will be uber hilar and not at all depressing. Honest.
Categories: Family, Friends and Relationships, Real Bride, Wedding Planning
15 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Fiancé
    Posted October 6, 2011 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Well done for being so brave sweetheart. Love will see us through.
    (I would feel unfair if I didn't clarify step dad was barely older than Bella is now, not then!)

  2. Posted October 6, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Bella, this made me cry when I read it. I have a step-mother situation, and even though we had a really up and down journey to get to the wedding, (gah saying 'journey makes me sound all Oprah) there was no angst on the day. Just keep on taking deep breaths and telling people calmly that if they do as you ask that will make you happy, and eventually they will. Love will see you through. As will your sense of humour. And remember that while your parents have had issues with relationships, you've gotten it right, and that's the hardest part done.

  3. Mahj
    Posted October 6, 2011 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Yippee, its a Bella post! So happy to be reading another one, even if it is about sensitive issues.
    I can in no way offer advice or compare situations as I'm not part of a step-family. But what I will say is this, go with your heart and your gut and all the other parts of your body that are telling you what the right course of action is and you wont go far wrong. Also, your fiance sounds like an absolute keeper. *waves* hi fiance!


    PS. If you do end up joining a country band in Tennessee, will you blog about it, pretty please??

  4. Posted October 6, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much ladies, feel quite sick reading it back as not used to divulging these types of thoughts/feelings so publicly!

    My gut tells me I'm doing the right thing and won't regret it so just have to keep trusting in that.

    Gemma, I'm so sorry you had a difficult journey but great that the day saw no angst! I have to keep that perspective :)

    Fiachra loves getting involved, I should make him do the last post as a re-cap on how amazing (ha!) a bride I am…

  5. Posted October 6, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    "devastated that he couldn’t take five minutes to understand how I might feel and how difficult it really is for me" < - you hit the nail on the head there girl. Don't beat yourself up for someone else's selfish attitude.

    It sucks now but it will pass, keep concentrating on you, your fiancé and your future together. All this hurt will only make you stronger in the long run.

    Big brave hugs xx

  6. Soph
    Posted October 6, 2011 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Ah, Bella. I don't really have any advice, I can't imagine how traumatic it must be to feel so torn… Big hugs and I hope that time makes things a little easier for all of you-and yes, your man does sound like an absolute star!

    Soph xx

  7. Posted October 6, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink


    (Mr K adds chu onto my name when I'm sad)

    I know from experience that it's very hurtful to feel like your decisions are making other people sad.

    But, as long as you aren't being selfish (and my goodness you are not), you have to make decisions that you can live by, that are true to what you believe in. If your step-father is, to all intents and purposes, the father figure in your life…then of COURSE he should walk you down the aisle. You need someone to do that who you believe in, who you love.

    Family is more than DNA. The people who share your DNA don't get a free ride to wedding-ville. Anyone you ruddy well like can walk you down the aisle. Brothers, sisters, friends, great-aunts.

    You have been very strong, and I'm sorry you're sad, but you're doing the right thing.

    And don't ever apologise for a sad post – life isn't all bunnies and kitkats and sunny days, and neither is this blog. x

  8. Posted October 6, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    B, after stopping the tears I've composed myself enough to write something.

    You've been incredibly strong when it hasn't been easy but you have the perfect outlook now. Weddings last just a day and marriages a lifetime. Concentrating on the latter is definitely the way to go.

    I look forward to the next blog and most of all I look forward to having such a strong sister-in-law,

    grá an-mhór

  9. Posted October 6, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Bella, it's great to read such an honest, open account of your troubles. It shows that wedding planning isn't all rosy like the mags make it out to be. Though very sad its all getting you so down.

    It seems like you've kept your head above water and are sticking to your decision which is very admirable in the circumstances. It seems like the best thing to do now is concentrate on thinking about the marriage (as you are) and on how proud your step-dad must feel to be chosen as the one to walk you down the aisle. He sounds like such a wonderful Dad!

    Hope things get better from here on!


  10. Gemma
    Posted October 6, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    Bella, I *heart* you for being brave enough to write this down! I have been married a little over a month (6 weeks!) I can empathise with you so much. My Dad is a wonderful man but I am also incredibly close to my step dad, and like you the thought of weddings always scared the bejesus out of me as I KNEW without shadow if a doubt I wanted both of them to give me away. I was doing it to hurt anyone (Although my stepmum made me feel this way) my Dad also threatend not to come, and it truly does make you wish it was over already or that you could elope. My h-mazing brother had a word with my dad, to the tune of – she is YOUR daughter, she has never asked you anything and it's the one thing she wants you to do for her on her wedding day (not quite as polite as that I would imagine!) and at the rehearsal it felt awkward as hell as there is so much bad water albeit under th bridge now but still…but on the day they both did me Proud and my Dad even thanked my step dad for being there for me. Completey unexpected.
    So what I'm trying to say is I know how utterly shit you will be feeling right now (especially If like me you always put other people before you) buy stick to your guns & your gut and hopefully by your wedding day biological Dad will realise that he loves you enough to just be, and make you happy.

  11. MrsJones
    Posted October 6, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Bella I know EXACTLY how you are feeling and what you are going through. I got married in July and I don't speak to my biological father and hadn't seen him for two years before we got engaged. I don't know him, in fact I don't like him, and he has no idea who I am. He makes me feel like a repressed version of myself whenever he is around and I really didn't want him at the wedding but I still thought about it, long and hard as I knew it would upset a few people if he wasn't there. As my mum didn't want to give me away (she thought it was weird for a woman to walk another down the aisle..) and my non official step-dad thought it would be awkward to do it I ended up asking my MOHs Dad (who is a long standing family friend) and luckily he accepted!!

    I hadn't decided what I was going to do and then I ended up having a massive row with my Nana (his mum) about ten months before the wedding and she told me I was being selfish and that she wouldn't come if he wasn't going (despite her other son and relations attending) and it was at that point I made my decision. The whole situation made me feel horrific, I knew I would never regret not having him there but may regret it if he was. I also felt really annoyed that I was being held to ransom and that people weren't considering my feelings, they were far more wrapped up in how my decision affected them. So he wasn't invited. It wasn't until 5 weeks before the wedding, when I still hadn't received my nanas RSVP (despite talking to me for hours about what she was going to wear..) and I assumed it had got lost but asked my sister to check just in case. It turned out she wasn't planning on attending as I was being selfish, my wedding was too flash and expensive (we had already paid for her hotel and made sure she didn't have to pay a penny the whole weekend) and she wouldn't know anyone. I was totally gutted and spent two days crying. After a pep talk from my sister and after I wrote her a heartfelt letter explaining exactly why I hadn't invited him she decided she would come but it still hurts thinking about what she said. In the end she had an amazing time and was glad she came. I didn't regret not having him there and my MOHs dad did the best job :)

    My Dad ended up writing me a letter two weeks before the wedding and ranted for two pages about how I was being vindictive and purposefully trying to hurt him. I later found out he had to ask my sister for my address (Ive lived here for 6 years and apparently hes been sending me birthday and xmas cards that ive never received) and for my hubby's name as he couldn't remember… And that said it all really!

    I'm sure people may think I was selfish but if you can't think about yourself on your wedding day then when can you? All the best of luck x x

  12. Posted October 7, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Aww what a touching post and love in a way that it isn't all rosy and flowers etc because life isn't like that.

    My dad is giving me away because I am not as lucky as to have a step dad. He doesn't know me and doesn't see me hardly but he is my dad and the only one I have.

    I would ask my mum but I want her to have the standing at the top watching me walk down experience rather than walking up.
    Or I may ask both of them. I don't know, it's very tense between them.

    Or maybe, I won't have anyone walk me down…controversial but at least real. My dad is not really like a dad. So why pretend he is just because it's my wedding day

    Excellent post and lots of love, you have done the right thing and maybe his hurt is because he realises his loss x x

  13. Posted October 7, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Thank you all – I honestly didn't do this to be told I am 'right' – I just had to be honest about what is going on at the moment!

    Your comments have really, really helped me to see that I'm not alone, and that everyone has things they have to overcome pre-wedding day.

    I could spend ages writing back to each and every one of you but for now I'd just like to say to 'Me' the pre-decision part is often waaaay harder than the fallout part: if you want or need to talk let me know! xxxx

  14. Anonymous
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Think I lost the first comment I wrote somehow but shall recompose! 'Did I genuinely think that honesty would be appreciated, and that understanding would prevail? Sadly, I actually did.' I don't think this is sad at all, Bellsniff. This policy is the only one with real integrity. It's for others to regret if they cannot step away from their concern about their status at your wedding to simply feel proud and privileged to share in your day. I know that many of us lucky ones who will be there will feel it's far more important to support a beautiful couple making an amazing commitment than to be worrying about where we sit or what we do. I have always admired the strength you've shown in navigating difficult family relationships – I know how deeply 'dad stuff' can cut. You know my personal heartache is not knowing whether my dad will be capable of walking by my side. I agree that your dad is the person who knows and supports you before and after, as well as on, that day – no matter where he is, or what he can or can't do on the day, he is in your heart as a major part of the wonderful person you are. Definitely couldn't say that to your face without crying (then laughing at myself)! Love you, L xxx

  15. Anonymous
    Posted October 23, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    I think everyone should take a step back and consider whether it is possible that there may be another side to this story …

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

More here.

image by Lucy Stendall Photography

Find me a random post