Monday, June 16, 2014

Sometimes It's The Parents And Not The Bride That's A 'Zilla!

Dear Tazi:

I am getting married this summer – in the same church that my parents and grandparents did – and I am having a problem with my guest list. My parents have long been legally separated (since I was a very young child), but due to moral beliefs (and financial comforts) they have never divorced. My mother has enjoyed her freedom from being one-half of a couple, and has never expressed interest in meeting anyone new; my father, on the other hand, has had one girlfriend after another, each one younger than the last. He has been with his current girlfriend for two years now (a record). She is only eight years older than me.

Dad has told me how disappointed “Courtney” is that she was not asked to be in my wedding party, and he has told me that she “had better” be invited to the wedding or he will not be attending. Tazi, I never even considered asking Courtney to be in my wedding party, so I have no idea why she is so disappointed. I also have no plans on issuing Courtney a separate or inclusive invitation to my wedding, but was going to address my father’s invitation with “and Guest” out of courtesy to him. When I informed him of this plan, Dad did not take it too well, accusing me of offering Courtney an “unvitation”.

The truth is, Tazi, I would prefer that Courtney not be present at my wedding at all. My father is still married by law, if not in spirit, and this will be a church wedding. The presence of his girlfriend by his side would be wholly inappropriate! I do not mind so much if she comes to the reception, because that will be held in a banquet facility that is not affiliated with the church.

My grandmother, who is paying for my wedding, is scandalized that my father would even consider bringing Courtney to the church and is outraged over the ultimatum; however a church is a public building and I would have to right to ask her to leave if he did bring her, so long as she was not being disruptive. A woman’s wedding day is supposed to be one of the most special days of her life, and I feel like mine is an impending disaster!

August Bride

Dear August Bride:

You are right that a church is a sacred place, and for a married man to sit with his legal wife on one side and his girlfriend on the other would be quite scandalous, as well as disrespectful. Could the Pastor of the church have a word with your father about the Church’s view on this matter? Maybe hearing from a man/woman of the cloth will be enough for your father to see that you are not the only one who finds this arrangement to be disrespectful.

In reading between the lines of your letter, I get the distinct impression that you are displeased with the way your father has lived his life since his separation from your mother. You do not mention your age, just that your parents have been separated since you were “a very young child”. I will assume that you are around the age of 25, which is the average age of a bride in America today, meaning your parents have been separated for about 20 years. You say that he has had “one girlfriend after another” during this time, the longest relationship being two years. Yikes! That is a lot of women to parade in and out of a child’s life. I can see why you do not feel a sense of closeness to Courtney. This is the issue that I think you need to address.

You are an adult now, and you need to start acting like one. Rather than have your father act as a go-between for you and Courtney, I suggest you contact her yourself. Invite her out to coffee (people are less likely to make a scene in a public place) and tell her what your father has told you: that she is disappointed that she was not asked to be a member of your wedding party. If she truly is disappointed, this topic could be a springboard into why she feels disappointed. Considering your closeness in age it is possible that she is seeking a sisterly relationship with you. Is this something you could accept?

Once the ice is broken between the two of you, calmly and rationally explain to Courtney the awkward situation you are in: that you have no problem with her coming to the reception, but that your parents are still technically married; that the church is a sacred place (for several reasons); that your grandmother – who is paying for the wedding – is practically apoplectic over the idea of Courtney attending the ceremony and sitting by your father’s side.

You could then suggest the following, if Courtney does not offer a solution of her own that is to your liking: She could (A) Skip the ceremony and attend the reception or (B) Offer to attend the ceremony but sit separate from your father, in the seats reserved for the guests (as opposed to in the front pew with the parents and grandparents of the bride and groom). If Courtney has any class at all, she will put aside her hurt feelings and accept her role as a martyr to good taste. In my opinion, her acceptance of this role will raise her stock in the eyes of all involved.

If Courtney refuses to accept any of the options offered to her and cannot come up with a reasonable option of her own, you will have done all that you can and should inform your father that his presence at your wedding will be missed. I have yet to find a man who would miss his daughter’s wedding over such a petty issue – especially when you will have had jumped through hoops to resolve it.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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