I’d like to dedicate an entire column just to one specific topic: the bride’s entrance at the ceremony. Who, if anyone, escorts the bride down the aisle, and why? There are many explanations for this custom, and many variations.
Historically the father of the bride escorted his daughter and ‘gave her away’ in marriage. This dates back to the time marriages were arranged. The bride was sold to the groom and his family, or perhaps more accurately, negotiated in a contract along with a payment or dowry.
Thankfully this has evolved over time, and by our modern era, the custom has become simply tradition. Today when a father ‘gives his daughter in marriage’ he is giving the couple his blessing. So many contemporary cultural traditions are based in long historic traditions. But in creating ceremony we also draw on pop culture, especially movies. We’ve all seen the images over and over and it’s difficult for folks to imagine it another way. The bride walks down the aisle, escorted by her father.
But family can be complicated. Let’s just say there are many reasons a bride may not want her dad to walk with her. Don’t worry – there are other choices!
Both parents may escort the bride. This has long been the custom in Jewish weddings, but today many others are choosing to do so, and this for a good and obvious reason: to honor both parents!
Your mother may escort you. If your father is deceased or out of the picture, why not give your mother that honor? Especially in single parent homes, where mom had all the work of raising you, doesn’t she deserve the honor or escorting you?
Another family member might escort you. Perhaps ask a brother, uncle, grandfather, stepfather, or other person who has been important in your life.
Walk without an escort. Please know that you can choose to walk in without any escort. Many a bride has told me she doesn’t need or want anyone to walk her down the aisle. Especially for second marriages or somewhat older couples, the bride may even feel a bit silly having daddy walk her in.
Enter as a couple. Another wonderful option is that the couple can enter together. This is very joyous. I recently had a groom wait at a designated spot as his bride entered part way by herself, then they joined together aisle arm-in-arm to complete the entry. And in same-sex marriages the couple entering together seems quite perfect.
When there are children from previous marriages, either or both partners may enter with their children. This is a wonderful way to show your children that they are an important part of this milestone.
And lets not forget about the groom. He can also enter with a parent or parents!
thanks to Rob Lettieri for the photo.