The AOW A-Z of Getting Married – F is for Fathers (A Wedding Day Without)

The AOW A-Z of Getting Married is a resource for brides (and grooms) to be.  It’s a welcome piece of sanity in an industry-saturated world where people are bombarded with what weddings they should have, what they should act like, and how a bride should feel.  Created by the team behind Any Other Woman, this A-Z is the first collaboration of its kind, bringing together posts from readers across the AOW community filled with advice, wisdom and experience from sane, smart, real women, many of whom have been there.  From wedding planning to family trials to breaking taboos, no topic is out of bounds.  We are honoured and excited to run each and every post, and we learn from each and every one of our readers.

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F is for Fathers (A Wedding Day Without) by Laura

The subject of making the difficult decision not to have you father involved in your wedding was discussed a couple of weeks ago, but I am going to talk about when that decision is taken away from you. When I was seventeen, my dad died unexpectedly.


As a family we mourned him and also the memories, yet to be made, that he wouldn’t be there for.  Grandchildren growing up and new ones arriving, milestone birthdays, graduations and Christmases. But the one event that he would miss out on, the one that broke my heart, was my wedding day. I was only seventeen, I had no plans to get married any time soon but I knew I wouldn’t be walking down the aisle with my arm interlinked with his and there would be no father of the bride speech.

Fast forward 10 years and the man I had fallen in love with was in front of me, bent down on one knee with a diamond ring in his hand. Among the excitement and joy, the thoughts I had had as a grieving seventeen year old resurfaced.

Who would give me away?

Who would do a speech for me?

Who would ensure we wouldn’t plan the wedding for the same day as the FA Cup final?

Who would be escorted into the room once I was ready, shed a small tear and tell me how beautiful I look and how proud he was is of me? You may be thinking ‘that only happens in films’ but I was recently a bridesmaid and my friend elegantly glided down the stairs, I was watching her dad and the pride on his face and the tear in his eye, well, it brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye!

I didn’t want to ignore my Dad’s absence but we didn’t want to be mourning it on what was to be the happiest day of our lives! I’m not a believer in an afterlife so I had no illusions of my dad sat ‘up there’ on a cloud watching over us all as we celebrated. He was there because our memories of him were these. Couples find different ways to remember loved ones on their wedding day, photos, lighting candles, a special reading. We chose a few special ways to have him involved in the day that maybe not all our guests would have realised. Attached to my bouquet I had my locket which has two photos of my dad in so that he was still stood there with me as we said our vows, also as our exit music we had Frank Sinatra’s ‘I’ve got the World on a String’. My Dad was a huge Blue Eyes fan and would have been tapping is foot as we walked back down the aisle.

Traditionally the father of the bride doesn’t have much responsibility in the run up to the day, expect writing a few cheques, but on the day he is one of the most important people. Years ago my mum and I had talked about who would take on Dad’s roles on my wedding day, and she said that she wouldn’t want to take them on. My dad had left some pretty big shoes to be filled but I was extremely lucky and not only do I have two big brothers, I have quite possibly the best God-father that a girl could ask for.  I decided that I would ask my brothers to give me away and my God-Father Bill to do a ‘God-father of the Bride’ speech.  I went from having no dad to having three! Apart from the hubby, they are three of the most special men in my life and I was overjoyed that they agreed to take on the role of the fourth.

Photograph and the photograph below taken by Mark Simmons

The night before our wedding, we hosted a dinner for our immediate family and our wedding party. My eldest brother had called during the week to ask if it would be ok to say a few words. “Sure, why not?” He only said a few words but not only did he welcome my husband into our family, he talked about how a very important person wouldn’t be there to see his only daughter getting married.

It was a lovely speech and I’m so glad he said the words but I am also glad he said them the night before the wedding as I was sobbing uncontrollably by the end. That amount of emotion on the big day would not only have brought down the mood but no one wants to see a bride use her veil to blow her nose and smudge her mascara!

Bill’s speech on the day started with a toast to both our dads but he didn’t linger and moved on to the embarrassing stories and tales of me in a tutu, just as a FOB speech should!

When it came to the day, my brothers and my god father did a wonderful job.  In my brother’s speech he said he hoped they would do my Dad proud by representing him, they sure did.  Although maybe we should have practiced all three of us walking up the aisle as when we turned to start the entrance, one brother stood on my dress!

Quite selfishly, it wasn’t until the day that I realised how hard the day would be for my mum. It dawned on me that she would have been thinking about this day a lot longer than me, probably from the moment the midwife announced that she had a daughter. She would have thought about my wedding day before I even knew what a wedding was and now she was also facing the day without the person who would have featured so prominently in all her imaginations and dreams about the day. As always, she was a rock.

Our wedding day was a day of celebration, it wasn’t a day to mourn those who couldn’t be with us, I had more than enough reinforcements and my dad wasn’t ignored. I am happy that he was with us in our own special way. I was going to end this with advice for brides to be in the same situation, but I realised I can’t. Just like grief, each individual deals with it in their own way. You have to do what you feel comfortable with and have them with you in a way that has meaning to you.

For those of you being walked down the aisle by your dad, hold on extra tight, it will be the proudest moment of his life, and such a special moment in your relationship.


Categories: A-Z of Getting Married
8 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted September 25, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    My goodness, I struggled to finish reading this through the years.

    What a lovely, heartfelt post. Thank you for sharing your story with us- so pleased your brothers and godfather did such a good job for your wedding.

    I’m not sure it was your intention but this made me so grateful that my dad was there- of anyone’s seen my AOP previously then I had the same feelings about my
    Mum…. And for the record I clung on to his arm to the point I nearly cut off circulation to his hand. Thank you for the perspective and reminder to be thankful.

    Anna x

    • Laura
      Posted September 25, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Anna, it wasn’t my intention at the start but I am happy it has had that effect!

  2. Posted September 25, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Permalink


  3. Rach M
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    This is a beautiful piece xx

  4. Posted September 25, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Lovely piece Laura and that pic of you and your brothers is fantastic, they (and your godfather) sound great.

  5. Yanthe
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    This is beautifullly written Laura, I’m a bit teary on the station platform x

  6. Laura
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the lovely comments! I must admit there were a few tears shed whilst writing it!

  7. Posted September 27, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    What a lovely post – I’m so glad you had your brothers and godfather to support you, and your mother sounds like a superstar!

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