Traditionally the father walks the bride down the aisle. Brides still ask their fathers to walk them down the aisle and fathers still give their daughters away to the man standing at the altar. However, things can get a little complicated when the bride comes from a non-traditional background. What happens when a bride’s parents are divorced and she shares a close relationship with her stepfather? What if the bride is estranged from her father for personal reasons? What if her father is deceased or otherwise unavailable? What if the bride simply feels that it would be archaic to be given away? Suddenly, that picture perfect moment of father and bride walking down the aisle starts to make less sense than it did before.
Here are some other options for today’s brides:
If a bride’s parents are divorced and one or both are remarried: Under these circumstances, a bride can choose to fall back on tradition and have her father escort her up the aisle. If the bride is closer to her stepfather, she may want to ask him instead, although if her biological father has stepped up to pay for the wedding, she should take that into account. Some brides have asked their stepfathers to walk them halfway down the aisle, where they meet their father and continue to walk the aisle escorted by him. If your father and stepfather have a friendly relationship, you could ask them both to walk you down the aisle, one on each arm.
A bride may also ask her mother to escort her down the aisle.
If a bride’s father is estranged or deceased and the bride does not have a stepfather or wish to be escorted by him: A bride may be escorted by a grandfather or favorite uncle.
The bride can ask her brother to escort her. Sarah rode her horse 1/2 way down the aisle, then her brother walked her the rest of the way!
Another modern solution has the bride being presented at one end of the aisle and then escorted by the groom, who walks down the aisle to meet her. Kayla walked to the edge of the seating, then paused, while the groom left the altar to met her, and escort her to the altar.
If the bride does not wish to be given away, but does not want to offend her parents: Ask your parents to escort each other, or (if remarried) to escort their spouses down the aisle. The bride can walk down the aisle herself to the altar.
Second marriage, or have a child? Have the child walk you down the aisle! Elizabeth had her son walk her down the aisle!
Bottom line, it is YOUR day!! Discuss with your wedding planner and wedding officiant your desires, and let them guide you on how to inform parents to try to prevent hurt feelings. Most brides, with a dynamic family choose to go with a bridal transfer. They can still choose to have someone walk them down the aisle (or not). However, instead of the escort standing upfront through the opening prayer, and then being asked “Who has the honor of giving this woman to this man?” (or similar words), the escort, acknowledges both the bride and groom (hug/kiss bride, then hug/shake hand of groom), then they are seated. After the opening prayer, I ask the parents of the bride and parents of the groom to please stand. Some couples to choose to add a brother or sister to have them stand as well. Then we thank the parents for their love, support, and guidance and ask then to approve the marriage and continue to offer their love and support. They in unison rely “we will”. This prevents any parent or step parent from feeling left out. I have had brides say “no step parents”, and have had to talk to the parents at the rehearsal explaining that when I ask parents to stand, they are to remain seated. Regardless of your circumstance your wedding planner and wedding officiant should be able to help you achieve the ceremony you envision.
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