Friday, October 17, 2008

Q & A: Who Should Walk The Bride Down The Aisle?

Q. Having my father walk me down the aisle and "give me away" is not an option for me. What can I do instead?

A. It is your decision whether you want to be escorted down the aisle or not and, if you do, by whom. There are several options:

Someone other than your father can escort you, someone you are close to who has been influential through your life, such as your mother, your grandfather, an uncle, a brother, etc. Don't let sexism or appearances get in the way of acknowledging and depending upon the right person. You can walk alone. This option is a reflection of the times: brides these days are more mature, more independent, with lives of their own; the idea of being "given away" seems antiquated and perhaps even sexist. Many brides would prefer not to be caught up in a very old tradition that symbolically perpetuates the myth that the daughter is the property of the father, to be given away by him at her wedding. By walking up alone, you are symbolizing your personal journey into matrimony.

You can walk alone halfway and meet your groom, going the rest of the way with him. In this way you symbolize quite literally that you are going forward to make your vows together, unified and giving strength to each other.

Nowadays, many couples are adopting the Jewish tradition of having both parents walk the bride, and in some cases the groom as well, down the aisle, reflecting their pride in and reliance on family unity.

Q. I would like my stepfather and father to walk me down the aisle, but the church aisle may be too narrow. Will it look awkward if my father walks me halfway down the aisle then sits down, then my stepfather walks me to the altar and gives me away?

A. First, do both of your fathers know that you intend to have both of them walk you down the aisle, and are they okay with this idea? I think it would be extremely awkward to have the two fathers share this role, regardless of how wide the aisle. Do consider choosing one or the other. You can always honor the other fellow during the service by having him do a reading or say a prayer honoring family and love.

Q. My stepfather and mother will be paying for my wedding. Does my stepfather "have" to walk me down the aisle, since he is footing the bill? (I would prefer my father to do it.)

A. Since your stepfather is paying, he must feel close to you, so do be sensitive to his feelings when making your decision. Also consider your mother's feelings; she may be estranged from your real father and feel very uncomfortable about having him take the spotlight while your stepfather is footing the bill. If you want your natural father to walk you down the aisle, make sure to have a long heart-to-heart with your stepfather and your mother, explaining the reasons for your choice.

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