The tradition of the bride being “given away” is something that evolved from very olden times when a young lady had very few social freedoms. It was considered protective and approving for a bride’s dad to be the one to escort the bride up the aisle to the waiting husband-to-be. This action was one that publically identified the father as the protector of his daughter and also publically noted that the groom would be assuming the role of defender and protector of the bride from this point on…hopefully forever after. Also, in some cultures it meant that the father was “giving” his daughter for social or monetary gains. In this day and age, walking the bride down the aisle is more about support and blessing from the family on the new union of husband and wife.
Now more than ever many marriages don’t seem to last forever and ever and with that many brides find it more and more complex to decide who should be walking them down the aisle. As an example, if the bride’s parents have separated (especially if it was acrimonious or not that long ago) the bride may feel uncomfortable trying to balance who should be invited to have the honour of giving he bride away. It can become complicated as the bride considers her biological dad, her mother or a stepfather and how her mother or other family members might feel with her choice. Many brides from single parent families where the mother primarily raised the children want their mom to walk them down the aisle.
Some brides walk down the aisle with both parents. Some brides go to get married and both parents have predeceased them. Often close family members such as a brother or an uncle get the honour of being asked to walk the bride down the aisle. In some weddings the bride and groom walk up the aisle together, in other weddings a bride may be on the arm of her grandfather or in other cases be given away by both grandparents. There really is no right way or wrong way. It is an honour that is usually reserved for family. However, tact and sensitivity needs to be used when dealing with the perceptions and expectations of family members.
I was once in the position myself of having really no one to walk me down the aisle. I planned to walk down by myself until a very dear couple, who were my close friends (although much older than I was), offered to have the husband walk me down the aisle. I remember being so touched that he would think enough of me to offer to give me away at my wedding. My friendship had begun with his wife as we worked together. When I was asked to consider his offer I double checked with my friend (his wife) to be sure she was okay with it. She was happy that I would favourably consider his offer and was excited to organize what he would be wearing on the big day.
About ten days before my wedding I received a phone call at work (this gentleman worked out of town Monday to Friday) and with great sadness received the news that this gentleman had to rescind his offer. I was heartbroken especially when I had not asked for his involvement but this was offered to me and I had accepted and planned my wedding around it. When I asked why, I found out that his only daughter who was 19 years old at the time felt that the only bride her dad should ever escort down the aisle should be his own daughter. This teenager felt so strongly about this that she was ready to disown her dad, hence the father’s decision to not proceed with his offer. I can tell you that many people’s feelings were hurt and my advice 20 years later would be to try and consider ahead of time how other family members may feel about whatever decision you want to make.
The solution for me was to have two little children, grandchildren of another very dear friend, a boy and a girl walk on either side of me escorting me down the aisle the morning of my wedding. I was very happy to be in the company of these little ones. I still remember how I felt and the cloud that was over one of the happiest days in my life. If only someone had thought to talk to the daughter first, this whole situation could have been avoided. Whatever you plan for the walk down the aisle, consider the other family members, both the ones who would have wanted to be asked and the ones who may feel displaced because of who you asked.
Giving the Bride Away (watch what they do)
Bridal Entrance Surprise
Fun Wedding Entrance Dance — Real Brady Bunch to “Everytime We Touch”