Fact Check

Step-Dad Pulls Out of Funding Daughter's Wedding at Last Minute

Several content-scraping sites spread a story about a step-dad who canceled his daughter's wedding, but the unverified tale was swiped from an old Reddit thread.

Published Sep 29, 2015

A step-dad refused to pay for his daughter's wedding at the last minute because she allowed her biological father back into her life.

In October 2015, multiple content-scraping, clickbait web sites published a tale of wedding revenge involving a purportedly devoted step-dad, his ungrateful common-law wife and step-daughter, and a lauded but deadbeat biological father:

My step-daughter will be getting married on August 3rd. The wedding planning has consumed most of her and her mother's life (I say her mother because we aren't married, though we've lived together for 10 years) for the past six months.

My step-daughter graduated last December from University. I paid for her to go to college, though it was a state school, it still ran $40K. She does not have a job and has been living with us for the duration of her college career and since her graduation. I also bought her a car to get back and forth from school when she finished high school.

From time to time her deadbeat father would pop into her life and she would fawn all over him. Although he has not contributed a cent to her education or paid any child support, though that is my girlfriend’s fault as c.s. was not part of the settlement, she still loves him and wants him in her life. He stays long enough to break her heart by skipping town and breaking some promise that he made her.

The wedding venue holds 250 people max. I gave them a list of 20 people that I wanted invited, you know, since I was paying for everything. They told me that was no problem and they'd take care of it. So I let these people know they’d be getting an invite and they should save the date. Saturday, I saw one of my friends on this list at the golf course and asked if he was coming. He told me that he wasn't invited. He told me that he got an announcement, but not an invitation. He had it in his back seat (along with probably six months of mail) and showed it to me. Sure enough, it was just an announcement, and my name was nowhere on it. It had her dad's name and her mom's name and not mine.

This led to a pretty big fight with my GF, as I found out that NONE of my list of twenty "made the cut" for the final guest list because "250 people is very tight." I was pissed, but not a hell of a lot I could do because the important people in my life had already been offended. My GF said "if some people didn't rsvp yes, I might be able to get a couple people in." But that is an ultimate slap in the face in my opinion. So, I was boiling on Saturday.

Yesterday, we had a Sunday dinner with the future in-law's family and us and a surprise guest, the "Real Dad." At this little dinner my step-daughter announced that her "Real Dad" was going to be able to make it to her wedding and that now he'd be able to give her away. This was greeted with a chorus of "Oh how great" and "How wonderful"s.

I don't think I have ever felt so angry and so disrespected. I was shaking. I took a few seconds to gather my composure, because I honestly wasn't sure if I would cry or start throwing punches or both. Once I was sure I'd be able to speak I got up from my chair and said I'd like to make a toast. I can't remember exactly what I said but the gist of it was this:

"I'd like to make a toast." The sound of spoons against glasses ring in my years. "It has been my great pleasure to be a part of this family for the past ten years." Awe, how sweet. "At this point in my life I feel I owe a debt of gratitude to bride and groom, because they have opened my eyes to something very important." Confident smiles exchanged. "They have showed me that my position in this family is not what I once thought it was." And now a glimmer of confusion and shock begins to spread on the faces in the room. "Though I once thought of myself as the patriarch or godfather of the family, commanding great respect and sought out for help in times of need, it seems instead that I hold the position of an ATM, good for a stream of money, but not much else. As I have been replaced as host, both on the invitations and in the ceremony, I am resigning my financial duties as host to my successor, Real Dad. So cheers to the happy couple and the path they have chosen." I finished my drink. "You all can let yourselves out."

Is this selfish? I'm supposed to shell out 40 - 50 grand for a wedding that I can't invite anyone to? That I am not a part of? I'm so done with this crap. I'm done with my step-daughter, I'm done with my GF. I transferred the money out of our joint account last night. (she has not had a job since she moved in with me) This morning I called all the vendors I had written checks to for deposits to refund my money. At present it looks like I'll lose around 1500, for the venue, but the other vendors have been great about refunding.

Would you have done the same?

The tale appeared on sites such as Tickld and Hrtwarming ("Step-Dad Pulls Out Of Funding Daughter's Wedding at Last Minute. But His Reasoning Is Heartbreaking"), the Conservative Post ("Step Dad REFUSES to Pay For His Daughter’s Wedding Because This INCREDIBLE THING HAPPENED"), and Top Right News ("Step Dad Stops Paying for His Daughter’s Wedding at The Last Minute, His Reason Broke My Heart") at roughly the same time. Nearly all the sites opted to present the story in an image-based format, forcing readers who wished to share it to drive traffic to those sites rather than simply copying the text.

All versions were near-verbatim recitations the same (too-good-to-be-true) anecdote. In it, a long-suffering step-dad was fed up with his freeloading live-in girlfriend (and the step-child for whom he's footed the bill for years) and was subjected to implausibly exploitative treatment for years at the hands of the mother and daughter — who, in his words, treated him "like an ATM."

After funding college for his girlfriend's daughter, he was then conscripted into financing a $40,000 wedding for her; and (in keeping with their comically boorish demeanor) she and her mother sent announcements to his friends and family instead of invitations, cutting them from the guest list. Incensed, he waited until a family gathering weeks prior to the wedding to "make a toast," theatrically denouncing his mooching partner and her progeny in front of gathered guests. Afterwards, the man claimed he left his jobless girlfriend penniless (by draining their joint account) and canceled payments to all wedding vendors, essentially calling off his daughter's wedding.

The story was certainly very pat, leaning heavily on deeply entrenched stereotypes of shiftless women and the meal-ticket men they routinely drain dry. Every character in it occupied a single dimension, either a long-suffering man-wallet or a callous woman with dollar signs in her eyes. Further implicit was the insinuation that the gold-digging step-daughter maintained no interest in her once-upcoming wedding other than the lavish event, as step-dad's last-minute funding withdrawal left no outcome in which the young bride availed herself of alternatives such as opting to say her vows in a county courthouse.

Another unpleasant subtext involved the stepfather's "heartbreaking" motivation for breaking up with his family in front of an assembled crowd. Whether or not the narrative represented events that once occurred (or was simply the product of an active, misogynist imagination), the girl's major sin involved mending fences with her unreliable biological father in the weeks before her big day. While the writer took pains to paint the bride and her mother as greedy and selfish, he similarly admitted that his step-daughter's reconciliation with her biological dad was unacceptable to him. Through that lens, it seemed clear the writer (and not his erstwhile family) viewed their established relationship as purely transactional; after he implicitly bought and paid for them, they betrayed that unstated contract by failing to abide his every wish.

As to whether a 3 November 2015 wedding was canceled as related in the narrative, that claim was provably false. The story was lifted in its entirety from a 3 June 2013 post to Reddit's r/offmychest titled "My step-daughter wants her "Real Dad" to give her away," but it was subsequently reposted in subreddits devoted to misogyny and revenge tales. In the original version the wedding was scheduled for 3 August 2013 (not 3 November 2015), and it appeared the dates were revised to make the tale sound new. The user who claimed credit for originating it racked up a grand total of only four posts and was not an established Reddit user. That user returned to update the original post twice, but the story and its subsequent repetitions were still based on a single, unverified Reddit thread from 2013 (which perhaps would have more aptly been posted to this subreddit). While the narrative certainly resonated with readers, there's no evidence it occurred outside the imagination of the individual who wrote it.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.