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Crista Tharp

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To Ask or Not to Ask?

Posted: 10/04/11 02:43 PM ET

In this very progressive and independent society many aspects of traditional wedding planning have been not only dropped by the wayside, but they've been shot, run over, disemboweled, burned at the stake and buried, never to be heard from again.

So with that being said, is it still traditional, or, for that matter, appropriate for the groom-to-be to ask for the father-of-the-bride's "blessing" before he asks his love to marry him? It used to be considered "asking permission," however, that has become very controversial for some very obvious reasons. Brides are, on average, older these days and are completely independent and self-sufficient. The thought that their groom must ask their daddy for permission is not only offensive, but it can put the groom between the proverbial "rock and a hard place" if he does do it.

Here's the deal: we all come from different backgrounds and traditions and have different relationships with our parents, so there is no easy answer to this. To all the brides out there: being aware of how important your father feels this tradition is and sharing it with your fiancée is critical. For many, asking the father-of-the-bride for his "blessing" is a sign of respect and, more importantly, it is also a great way to establish a good relationship with your father. Try to put aside your ego for just a minute and think of it as a great opportunity for your groom to start off on the right foot with your dad. Be thankful that he respects your parents enough to keep them included.

To all the grooms: If you choose not to speak to your future father-in-law before you propose, be aware that it can cause a lot of hard feelings and lead to some very awkward get-togethers and holidays. It is important to approach this as a sign of respect and remember this will be your very first experience as your bride's future husband. If you think this is hard, buckle your seat belt, it's going to be a bumpy ride!

I have seen both sides of this issue. In fact, when sitting in a recent business meeting, I realized just how split people are about this tradition. One father said he would be furious if his soon-to-be son-in-law neglected to ask for his blessing. He considered it hugely disrespectful to be one of the last ones to know. However, his wife added that their daughter would basically shoot her fiancé' if he asked "permission." Think of the position that this puts the groom in. Who does he choose to disappoint? Frankly, he is in deep trouble whichever way he goes.

I have personal experience with this subject. After dating for four years, the love of my life proposed to me on the beach. After popping the question he casually told me he hadn't told my father yet.

"Houston, we have a problem!"

The following two years of our engagement were pretty tough. Coming from a very close, traditional Catholic family, my father was very sensitive about being the head of the family and all the responsibilities that it entailed. I was the oldest of four children and the first to get engaged. I was trailblazing new ground and, evidently, I didn't do it correctly.

The entire two years of our engagement were very tense, all because my husband had not honored this one very simple tradition. I had an incredibly close relationship with my father. He always said we were "cut from the same cloth." So he felt betrayed and disrespected when my fiancé didn't ask him prior to proposing. I am happy to say, however, that the day of our wedding, everything returned to normal and we all have a fabulous relationship. Besides, we gave my parents 10 grandchildren -- how can they not be happy.

I have come to realize in my profession that there are two sides to this story. While my father was very traditional and expecting to be the first one to know, my husband's family was the complete opposite. In fact, his parents were probably two of the last people to know. They considered it our business. Every family has their own expectations and rituals.

Weddings bring out everything from joy and excitement to stress and all out war. Whether you choose to ask or you don't, ALWAYS think of everyone involved and be as considerate as possible. It makes the wedding planning more bearable and the future family events a lot more enjoyable.