As any bride can tell you, a wedding can be the most wonderful (and the most stressful) day of your life. And for most people trying to make a wedding work with a blended family, “stressful” is an understatement. Perhaps that’s why an Ohio wedding photographer’s photo is going viral — because it turns everything we know about “dysfunctional” wedding-day tension upside down.
When photographer Delia Blackburn was shooting 21-year-old Brittany Peck’s wedding last Saturday in Elyria, Ohio, one striking moment stood out above all others. No, it wasn’t one of those Pinterest-worthy shots you see of the first kiss, or even of the happy couple cutting the cake. It was a completely unexpected exchange between Peck’s biological father, Todd Bachman, and her stepfather since 2003, Todd Cendrosky.
The wedding plan was as follows: Bachman was to drive his daughter down the aisle in a festive golf cart for the outdoor ceremony. But instead of following through with this plan, Bachman stopped right before the aisle, much to the surprise of the crowd. Bachman quickly ran over to Peck’s stepfather, grabbed him by the hand, and brought him back to Peck so they could both walk her down the aisle together. Once the dads’ picture hit Facebook, it was shared more than half a million times and received over one million likes in just two days.
As Peck told ABC News, this was a plan her father had hatched far before her wedding day:
“I’d always known that I wanted both of them to walk me down the aisle, but I had no idea how to tell my dad. I finally just built up the courage to call him about two weeks before the wedding and said, ‘I really need to talk to you.’ He said, ‘You don’t have to say anything more. I already have a plan for everything. I know what you want. Don’t you worry about it. I’ve got it covered.'”
Bachman kept his plan a secret from everyone until the day of the wedding — even the bride.
Most brides agonize over every detail of their wedding, including who’s going to walk them down the aisle. Add in the fact that the “typical” nuclear family is almost obsolete, and this kind of blended family dilemma is becoming the wedding day norm. According to The Step Family Foundation, the majority of families today are divorced, and most parents will get remarried or find a new partner. There are 1,300 new stepfamilies formed every day. This doesn’t even account for the growing number of “atypical” families we see: homes with a single parent, two same-sex parents, and children raised by grandparents.
Peck’s story hits close to home for those of us who grew up in the gray area — with a biological parent and a stepparent. Unlike this open-hearted bride, I wasn’t brave enough to try to pull two families together on my big day. I just couldn’t take the tension and the awkwardness (and the inevitable glaring) that was sure to follow. I went in the opposite direction and didn’t invite anyone to my wedding — my husband and I eloped. We had a private, stress-free wedding day, where I also missed out on one or more of my dads walking me down the aisle.
We may be looking at a once-in-a-lifetime wedding picture, but these dads made a move that every family can learn from, traditional or not. Because after all, it’s not the toys or presents they’ll hang on to, it’s those little moments when we really connect with our kids that they’ll remember forever.