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September 18, 2016

My Parents Didn’t Attend My Wedding

Lesbian bride walked down the aisle by best man

Katy Ray's best man walks her down the aisle. (Photo by Lola Snaps)

They say that your wedding is the most important day of your life, but for many of us LGBTQ people, we know that sometimes the disappointment of family rejection and abandonment can loom over these types of once in a lifetime events. From walking down the aisle to the father-daughter first dance, weddings are filled to the brim with patriarchal, gender-based rules and traditions that can underscore the absence of a father or mother figure.

Naturally, we face an overload of emotional decisions when planning around their absence. How will I walk down the aisle? Should I have a first dance? Will people feel sorry for me? Tiptoeing around those issues was a process of grief, embarrassment, acceptance, and finally, empowerment, and celebration.

There is no one size fits all manuscript for working around any of these things. All I can do is speak to the way I did, and how I turned what was once a hurtful, gaping hole, into and incredible day of joy.

The best thing about being an “untraditional couple” is that you don’t have to have the traditional wedding. My partner and I discussed the traditions and values that were important to us.

For me, I don’t subscribe to the idea of anyone “giving the bride away.” Who is anyone to “give” the bride away, and who am I to “get” the bride anyway? The tradition of the father giving away his daughter has its roots in the days of arranged marriages. Of course these times have changed and in my opinion, walking yourself down the aisle gives you a sense of empowerment and independence.

Personally, I had someone in my life that I wanted to walk me down the aisle: Someone who has been there for me through my darkest times and has been my biggest support system. So, I asked my best man to walk me down the aisle. It was my way to honor him and thank him for being there when no one else was.

Working around the father-daughter dance was actually more fun than I could have imagined. Instead of dancing to a cliché slow song, my best man and I choreographed a routine to Lady Gaga’s Just Dance, the first song we heard together when we were just baby gays dancing at Town Danceboutique. Our wedding guests got such a kick out of it, and it became a moment I will never forget.

There are tons of other traditions my wife and I decided to negate in order to make sure our friends and families got the rightful spots they so deserved. My partner took her steps down the aisle with her mother. She also chose to have a mother-daughter dance to honor her mother, and also had a father-daughter dance with both her father and stepfather.

In addition to a best man, I chose to have a Matron of Honor, my sister. She’s always loved and accepted me regardless of our parents’ decisions. The moment she put my late grandma’s pearls on me, I cried.

They say that a wedding is the most important moment of your life, and I’d have to agree. It’s the day you say love wins!

So many people came together to make our day special. My partner’s family showered us with so much love and support, and has accepted me as one of their own. My friends have become the family that I never had. Surrounded by so many people and all of their love for us, the absence of one or two others didn’t even matter.