Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Getting Down the Aisle (Nonconventional Bride Issues)

I know that your dad is "supposed to" walk you down the aisle. It's big deal, everyone cries when he "gives you away." That's the sticking point for me. I don't think I should be "given away". I am not a door prize. It seems like such an archaic gesture. It went something like this: You've asked my father (aka lord and keeper) for my hand and agreed on a dowry and now he makes a public gesture of delivering the goods. Ick.

I am not saying there's anything wrong with the modern embodiment of this tradition. It's still very meaningful to some people, but I'm speaking for myself (and perhaps those brides who never thought about it). Do I want to be handed from my father to my husband? Maybe, if that's the way my life had played out it would make sense. I have lived on my own for 10+yrs, away from my parents. I have been educated and seen some of the world. I have become so much more than my parents' daughter. That will always be a part of me, but it isn't all of me. Wife and mother won't ever be all of me either, but that's doesn't mean I'm not exceptionally proud of those things.

I've thought about this a lot and if I see it in light of the old tradition it's rooted in, I just don't like what it says. I think walking into my "new life" alone is a much more powerful gesture of commitment. On top of that Mike and I have been committed to each other and living as a family with our children for years. I am not leaving childhood and entering adulthood. I'm already there.

Perhaps there's another way to see it. Maybe it's a gesture of continued support to walk your child ceremoniously down the aisle. "I'm still here, kiddo." Which is kind of nice except that when you end your walk you literally get passed to the groom and they say “who gives this woman?" How about, "I give myself freely with the support of my family and in view of God." Isn’t that better than "her mother and I do". That leaves the bride out all together. I think you should speak for yourself as much as possible on your wedding day.

I don't bear any ill will towards my father and I certainly want him to support my marriage and participate in the ceremony, but I want it to mean something to me. That's why Mike and I are going to be working with our officiant and writing our own ceremony start to finish. It's going to be meaningful and inclusive. It will not be full of empty traditions.

Why should it be anything, but a celebration of us on our terms? Besides isn't this the most romantic thing ever:
"My FDIL does not have a living father and her stepfather is out of the question. She has no brother, no grandfather, etc. She does not want her mother to walk her down so she is walking herself down. The groom (my son) is going to walk up the aisle to meet her once she gets about 2/3 of the way down. She will stop and he will extend his hand. He'll take her arm and they will walk down together. It looks very romantic when they have practiced it..."(bride.com message boards)

This article suggests at least 8 different ways to get down the aisle. Personally, I think 7 of them are valid possibilities. I have time to consider and whatever I choose will be meaningful and special and symbolize wonderful things that don't have anything to do with being "given away".


  1. Kevin and I both walked down the aisle. Kevin with his mom and dad, and me with my mom and dad. My mom lifted my veil and I hugged them both. It was definitely symbolic of support, rather than "giving away". We wrote our entire ceremony too.

    (will send pictures and ceremony text soon, life is busy)

  2. I think meaningful traditions are beautiful. "Symbolic of support",I like that E. I will be sad if this one is ignored. :(

  3. I would like to point out that my dad will be lovingly included in the ceremony in multiple ways and also he has two daughters. A tradtional giving away of the bride is probably in the cards for him.


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