Who should walk me down the aisle?

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Thanks to Artemiss0 for uploading this to our Flickr pool.
I'm faced with the dilemma of who will walk me down the aisle. My father and I are long estranged and he will not be invited to my wedding, and my grandfather passed away years ago. Who is a reasonable alternative in place of the "father of the bride" to walk the bride down the aisle? Is it totally taboo and crazy to make that important walk alone?

I plan to have a fairly unconventional non-religious wedding, but there are some customs (like having someone "give away" the bride) that I feel are hard to let go of.

-Jessica

We've addressed how to tell your dad someone else is walking you down the aisle before (lots of great comments on that post!), but never really touched on the options for who else could walk with you.

Here are just a few of the people who have walked offbeat brides down the aisle, with amazing photos to show you how it's done.

Tip: to see more information about a given photo, just click it!

Bride's mother

Mom Walking the Bride Down the Aisle

We also have this post about a bride with lesbian mothers trying to figure out how they can both walk her down the aisle.

Bride's children

We've featured numerous weddings where brides were given away by their sons and daughters. Repeat after me: Awwwww.

Here comes the bride

My Escort

Here comes the bride with her son

Bride's siblings

Sometimes this is a a brother, sometimes a sister, and sometimes multiple siblings with one on either side. Here's a great shot of a bride being "given away" by her brother:
"Giving Away"

Bride's grandfather

We featured one bride who had her grandfather AND father walk her down the aisle:

Walking down the aisle

Both the bride's parents

This is customary in many Jewish weddings, but is something I'm seeing more often in non-Jewish weddings too.

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Walking down the aisle with Mom and Dad

Walking down the aisle together

Personally, my favorite solution is walking down the aisle with the groom. For me, Andreas and I walking down the aisle together was a way of showing that we were already in this together. I've heard rumors of it being a custom in both Irish and Thai weddings, as well.

Walking down the non-aisle together

"aisle" 3

Walk alone

We've also featured brides who chose to walk down the aisle unaccompanied.

Walking down the aisle w/Dad in spirit

The moral of the story here? Basically, we've seen it all. You can walk down the aisle alone, with one other person of your choice (family member or friend), or flanked by two other people (parents! siblings! children!). As with all things wedding, this is totally up to you. The goal here is that you feel supported and confident.

I'd love to hear from those of you who went for a non-dad aisle-walking option: who walked you, or did you walk alone?

  1. You must have read my mind! I was just thinking today about how much I would like to walk down the aisle alone, how that just feels right for me :) This gave me the validation I needed: thank you so much for posting!

    2 agree
  2. I had my mum and stepdad who raised me since I was 5 walk me down the aisle.

    I never really wanted anyone to walk me down the aisle if my dad couldn't (he passed away nearly 11 years ago), especially not my stepfather by himself as I didn't want anyone to think that I'd "replaced" my dad. But having both my mum and stepdad walk me down was a nice way to incorporate them into a wedding they felt they weren't involved with.

    My tip would be though, even though it's generally assumed it's ok (or I thought it was), to double check when you ask whoever you decide to walk you down the aisle whether it's ok for you to show people their photos (of you walking down the aisle). Not normally something people think of, I certainly didn't, but the only probs arising from my wedding were showing pictures of my family in them.

    If I'd known that was going to be an issue, I would've walked myself down the aisle so I could show anyone and everyone my photos – just something to bear in mind when asking people to walk you down…

  3. My father died when I was a kid, so it's just something I grew up knowing would happen. The choice was between my brother or my uncle (father's brother) and considering my uncle is the family patriarch and doesn't have kids of his own to marry off, I figured I'd give him the honor.

    2 agree
    • That's such a beautiful thought! Wish I'd thought of it!

    • Incredible story of Danny & Annie – Thak you for sharing! That's what getting married is all about.

  4. For some strange reason, I never really thought about this, and I haven't felt any pressure to have someone walk me down the aisle. Thank goodness for chill parental units on both sides! I have to consult with them on how they'd like to enter the ceremony since they're not escorting mi amor or myself, but the bridal entourage is making an unusual entrance. Since we're having orchestral seating (basically several arches), the bridesmaids, best man, mi amor and myself are going to walk among the guests. There won't be an aisle, and this lets people on the far ends get in on the action because they'll get some members of the entourage walking right near them. The people on the ends furthest from the aisle get jipped, I think. :)

  5. I would love advice on this one! I am estranged from my father. My grandfathers are dead. But I have two uncles I am close to. One is my godfather, but the other I have a special bond with as well. I considered asking both to give me away, but I feel I might hurt both their feelings if I am indecisive. Part of me just wants to walk alone to avoid the issue all together.

  6. In Sweden, no one "gives the bride away". The bride is considered an independent adult that walks down the aisle of her own free will. There was even some heated debate about this last summer when our princess Victoria wanted her father, the king, to give her away. The church of Sweden actually refused, but if I remember correctly, in the end, they all came to some sort of compromise. I think Victoria walked half of the way with her father and the last half with Daniel, the groom.

  7. I'm faced with a similar but different problem. My father and I are not estranged per se, but we haven't spoken in a year and have never been particularly chummy. He is still married to my mom. He is coming to the wedding. I'm currently planning on having my mom walk me down the aisle, but I sense this will be super awkward with him there. Any thoughts?

  8. Well we got married on a peninsula, so there wasn't really an aisle, but there was still a walk around the pond. I started the walk with my mom (my dad is deceased, and I wanted to include my mom in the wedding – and I didn't want to trip and fall). We walked to the pond. At that point, my husband walked from the peninsula as a walked around the pond and we met in the middle. We finished the walk together. It was a beautiful transition from my mom, to being by myself, to being with him.

    1 agrees
  9. I walked alone. My parents and I are estranged, and I'd lived on my own for years. My husband has never even met my father. I'm an independent woman, no one person has cared for me, to give me into the care of my Husband John. I've cared for myself. So I gave myself to my husband. That's how I viewed it.

    The other thing for me was, even though I was walking down the aisle alone, I was not "alone". I was surrounded by support and love.

    Yes, people questioned me. A several dear friends (male and female) offered to walk with me, and even until the day of I wasn't 100% sure. My maid of honor actually walked out last in case I changed my mind. When the moment came, I was ready, I walked out alone. It was perfect.

    2 agree
  10. I am struggling with this as well. My father passed away 9 years ago and while my step-father is a good man, we are not close.
    I have 4 children. I am toying with the idea of having my oldest (age 16, girl) be my maid of honor, My youngest (age 6, girl) being a flower girl and having my boys (ages 11 and 9) give me away.

    1 agrees
    • My Aunt had one of her sons giver her away at her wedding and when the minister asked who gives this women… he said "Her family and friends do" I loved that!

      2 agree
  11. On September 17th my twin daughters (18) will be giving me away and my 15 year old daughter is my maid of honor. Do what makes you happy!!!

  12. My fiance and I are planning on meeting at opposite ends of the back of the room and meeting in the middle, and walking up the aisle together. This kind of illustrates that we come from different places in life but we found our way to each other and are starting this together. Kind of sappy but we like it.

    1 agrees
  13. My God Father is walking me down the aisle when I get married this July. I'd love to have had my Dad do it but he passed away a couple years ago. I thought about having my Mom walk with me but my parents choose my Uncle to be the one who took the role of my Father should he die and so I want to honor that.

  14. Both my parents are deceased. My uncle, Dad's younger brother,is walkin me down the aisle.

  15. I had ALWAYS pictured myself being walked down the aisle by my father. We are super close and still are. It was a strange thing because we didn't do a formal rehersal since weather changed EVERYTHING about where and how our wedding ceremony actually unfolded (we couldn't have a procession through the woods down to the river in the torretal downpour) and before I knew what was happening G and I were walking down the Aisle in the lodge at the summer camp together, hand in hand. It felt very comforting to have him there. We had already done "first looks" with the photographer and that gave us the "OMG you look so awesome!" moment. Walking in together really fit who we are and what our wedding was about which was the two of us coming together in front of our community to say "Here we stand together, trying to make a family from two lives. You are here as our community to support us and hold us accountable" it only made sense that we would 'show up' together. Best of luck in this whole thing! Know that the day after you say "I Do" will be one of the best days you have had in a long long time.

    1 agrees
  16. I'm Catholic, and at our wedding instruction course, they suggest that you walk down the aisle with your groom.

    That's what my sister did, and that's what I'm doing. As I see it, I've been dating my boyfriend for years, so the idea of wearing a veil or being "given away" (which the church is totally against, anyway, because the bride is not property) at this point seems ridiculous.

    1 agrees
  17. When my father passed away I had decided when I got married my mom would walk me down the aisle. We talked it over, had tossed around a few other ideas, and she was really touched that my first though was having her walking me down, however a year and a half after my dad passed away my mom also passed away.

    While there is no talk of a marriage in my immediate future I have come up with the idea that my two half-sisters will give me away. I'm not comfortable having them be part of a wedding party due to our difference in ages but want them to be involved in an important way.

  18. My fiance and I are walking in and down the aisle together. My dad "gave me away" for my first wedding, but I took myself back in the divorce. ;) Also, it's important to me that this wedding is cementing our already strong relationship.

  19. I really struggled with this when we first got engaged. My father passed away a couple years ago and even before that I was estranged from both my parents and don't have any close extended family. I liked the idea of walking in together, but for my fiance, it was really important to have that quintessential groom moment of standing beside his best man and watching me walk down the aisle toward him. I liked the symbolism of walking down the aisle alone. But to be honest, the thought of being the center of attention and walking alone gave me the heebie-jeebies. I was terrified of tripping on my heels! LOL.

    When my sister started to get involved with some of the wedding planning, I wanted to find a way to include her in the ceremony. I didn't want to add yet another bridesmaid to the mix. That was when I realized that she could walk me down the aisle. We aren't always close so it took me a while to come up with that idea. She is the only family I really have and she took care of me when we were little, though, so I appreciate the symbolism. And I will be able to share that moment with someone who makes me laugh and makes me calm. It was brilliant and by far the best wedding decision I've made. She was super touched to be asked and now instead of being terrified of tripping down the aisle alone, I am excited about walking down the aisle with my sister and I think it's brought us a little closer.

  20. My sister was faced with the same dilemma. We have been estranged from our father since we were teenagers.

    Although my mother has since moved on, having our stepfather walk her down wasn't the right fit either since she was almost out of the house when he came into our lives.

    Our maternal grandfather was ruled out since he would have found it much too emotional to deal with.

    Instead, I suggested having our youngest brother walk her down the aisle. He was only elevenat the time, and was completely thrilled with being given this role. My brother wore a top hat and tux, it was beyond adorable.

    Everyone loved this touch and this is now a memory they willboth share. It ended up being a great way to include our much younger sibling in the ceremony.

  21. I am planning on having both of my parents walk me down the aisle. I don't like the idea of being "given away" (I am not my father's property to pass on to someone else) and I see the walk symbolically as my parents taking me almost to the end of the aisle, like they've raised me thus far, and me taking the last few steps alone, like I'm continuing on my life's journey as an adult who makes her own decisions (in this case, the decision to marry an awesome guy). It might sound a little corny, but I don't care. I also wanted my mom to be involved in this part of the ceremony since we're close and I didn't want her to just sit on the sidelines as I came down the aisle.

  22. Can I just say that the cat-in-the-hat dad & grandpa walking with the Dr Suess bride is possibly my favorite wedding photo EVER? I both chuckle and get misty every time I see it.

  23. My friend is getting married in the fall and her father passed away awhile ago. Her good friend (and the couple's roommate) is walking her down the aisle. It's going to be great :D

    As for me, I couldn't leave my mom behind- they both raised me! So my folks walked me over, well sort of behind me due to limited space.

  24. What about your fiance's father? My father is living and he and I are close, but he's in poor health; if he's not able to walk me down the aisle at my wedding my fiance's father will do it instead. If you're close to his family, I think that's the best alternative.

  25. I don't know why I never thought about having my mom walk me. We're not quite at the marrying point yet in my relationship (we're headed that way, we're just not ready yet) but my relationship with my father has been less than stellar for a long time now, and it's something I struggle with every time I think about my future wedding. I flip-flop on if he should even be invited.

    Any other solution I could come up with didn't feel right either. My uncle, who I was extremely close with growing up was the front-runner for a while, but my freshman year in college our relationship sort of fell apart, and I was sort lost after that. I only ever speak to one of my brothers, and even then we're not very close, but I debated asking him anyway. He would have loved getting the one up on dad.

    But my mom! Why didn't I ever think of that? My mom is awesome, and our relationship is great, especially now that I've moved out of her house. And she would love it.

    Now if only someone would address how to serve alcohol at your wedding with an alcoholic parent, all of my fears would be relieved.

    • Hi Kate– also dealing with the alcoholic parent issue, so i feel ya there. my mother and i (and my mother with most family nowadays, thankfully) are becoming increasingly open about her problem however, so we're talking about it…. my FH totally understands, and we're gonna have a basically "dry" wedding sort of out of respect to that whole situation, and have one or two bottles of champagne just for toasts.

  26. My fiancee and i are planning on walking in together… same for us as for you, Ariel, that it symbolizes for us that we're already in it together, and for us it's about our equality. cause the whole father "giving" the woman to another man thing seemed antiquated and a bit sexist to us, and this way it's about electing a life together, rather than feeling like a parcel that should come with a dowry of sheep. also, as tight as my dad and i are… he's a hippie, so he agrees. :)

  27. At our most recent family wedding, the bride and groom both had their parents walk them down the aisle. It was a lovely moment, and made for beautiful photos.

  28. This is something I've always wondered… I lost my father when I was very young. He was very special to me and doing everything without him now is difficult.
    We'll be getting married in about 5 months and I've considered all the options – but I think my fiance and I have decided that, because my father was very special to me, no one should take his place walking me down… so I will walk alone halfway… and my fiance will meet me in the middle and walk with me the rest of the "aisle."

  29. My little brother is walking me down the aisle. He's the one i'm closest to in my family and it just felt like the right decision. My FH asked my little brother for permission before he proposed as well. It offended my mother, but it's not her wedding.

  30. No one will be walking down the aisle at my wedding – not even me! We are not having an aisle or an 'entrance' at all. My partner and I are planning to meet our guests beforehand, outside the venue, and all enter the room for the ceremony together. For me this takes away a lot of stress, and also removes the rather outdated notion that my father is 'giving' me to my fiance.

    • YAY! Us too! Can't wait to see the look on people's faces when they walk up to the gate and find the two of us welcoming them in and beaming!

  31. I got married last July and had both of my parents walk me down the aisle. My husband and I had already had a handfasting a year and a day earlier so we were happy to go down the traditional Irish Catholic church wedding route for the 'official' wedding, even though we're not religious. Having anyone other than a father walk you in is unusual here but it just seemed like the most obvious thing to do and felt right as both my parents had an equal part in raising me.
    Do whatever makes you happy and don't worry about tradition.

  32. My father passed away a few years ago and he got to walk me down the aisle 20 years ago. I'm getting remarried to the man of my dreams next year and a very good and dear friend of mine will be walking me down the aisle. I couldn't think of a better person than Gary to walk me down to the man I love.

  33. I, too, am estranged from my father and he was not at the wedding. Since my husband wasn't entirely loving the idea of us coming in together, I had my uncle walk me. He's someone who's always been there for me and my brothers and my husband really loves and respects him. My uncle was touched to be a part of it and everything worked out beautifully.

  34. I wanted to walk with my partner, but for some reason he wanted the traditional waiting (in this case in the trees ) thing. I walked with my best man- who I don't see very often. It was cool, but our walk was about 800m through the bush, half way joined by my partner and his best wonman- and in a lot of pictures it looks like we are the wrong couples – which is a bit wierd!

  35. I'm getting married next February & will be having my 17yr old son walk down with me.

  36. I too am walking in with my guy, for many of the reasons articulated above. I am not comfortable with the idea of being on display in slow-motion ("ooh…ahh…") and my dad is as shy as I am. Being on my fiance's arm, equalizing things to convey that we're *both* equally "on display" if that's what you want to call it, will make a huge difference.

    Then we'll pause at the ceremony site and embrace our four parents. While this was first conceived as a way of letting them be acknowledged in place of the traditional stuff, I've come to realize it also enacts a nice narrative: instead of this representing a separation from my parents, my fiance and I will be joining them – all four – becoming family with them – after being pretty wrapped up in each other for the past five years. "Suprise, we didn't leave you – we're in this with you for the long haul!"

    2 agree
  37. I had always dreamed of my father escorting me down the aisle, but he passed away 7 years ago. The only things I had ever thought of for my wedding growing up had to do with my father, because I was Daddy's girl. Trying to decide what to do after he passed was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. At first I thought about having my Mom escort me, but it would be too emotional for her and then she'd have me sobbing by the time we got to the end. I think that I will have my two brothers on either side of me, representing my father. I think I will still probably cry because I know we will all miss him that day.

    1 agrees
  38. I prefer not to think of it as being "given away." I like to think of it as being escorted.
    I think that if we are all at a special occasion, and that we're all dressed in our finery, then we can act like ladies and gentlemen. We should drink with our pinky fingers out, put our napkins in our laps, and refrain from swearing. The gentlemen (groomsmen) will escort the ladies (bridesmaids) down the aisle, and so my father will also escort me down the aisle. (I also think he would be crushed if I told him I didn't want to do it.)
    There will be no line in the ceremony about "who gives this woman" because I have been on my own for 20 years. There won't be any line about "obeying" either. ;)

  39. ohhh cute, it's so so nice to see the diversity in approaches! I'm debating between having both parents or my fiance. One option, since I'll be dancing down the aisle, is to do some twirls with both parents and then meet my partner halfway up with a high five and do the rest of the journey with him!

  40. God father/ parents can also walk you down the isle. I will be walked down the isle by both my father and god father…it's going to be a tight squeeze :P

  41. I'm walking in by myself. My father and I have never gotten on, and I was always a very self-sufficient person, even as a small child- so why would I have someone walk me down an aisle to get married? For me it just doesn't make sense.

    This is the one thing that my mother just doesn't get about what I want my wedding to be like. She doesn't push it; she recognizes that it's my wedding and I'm going to do what I want no matter what she thinks, and she understands my reasoning.. Just for some reason she's stuck on this one detail.

    2 agree
  42. FYI in a Catholic wedding it's also actually liturgically most correct for the bride and groom to each be walked in with their parents, possibly following the bridal party and ministers. It's just that most Catholic couples choose the giving away the bride route under the mistaken impression that because it's 'traditional' it must be Christian. The theology of a Catholic marriage says that two people must come freely, so really the symbolism of one person being given away is all wrong!
    we're doing the each of us with our parents thing (but not bridal party or ministers, because that would make it epic)

    1 agrees
  43. My husband to be and I are getting married this Sept. My father passed years ago (although we were never very close to begin with). For our non-traditional wedding we've decided to both walk our own path from opposite sides and meet in the middle where my Godmother will be conducting the ceremony! We have no wedding party and want to keep things simple and sweet. To us we are showing that we are giving ourselves "away" to each other!

    1 agrees
  44. I am going to walk down an aisle with my two children. My fiance will meet us halfway and my kids will then walk ahead and he and I will walk down the rest of the way together.

  45. My father has been absent from my life for years now. My grandfather has a much stronger connection to my sister than to me. So my decision was fairly easy. My big brother and my little man (a boy I've been a nanny for since his birth) are co-walking me down the aisle/giving me away. Pick the most influencial and consistent people in your life. My bro and my little dude were the easiest choice to make!

  46. I have been contemplating whether I'd ask my father to walk me down the aisle or not. I love the idea of having both parents escort the bride, but since my mom is no longer with us that is not an option. I would still love to have my dad do it, but he has a debilitating illness that might make it difficult. So I think we'll opt for walking in together or even meeting each other at the altar. At least our UU minister is open enough to let us choose the ceremony's wording, so the phrase "who gives this bride?" will not be uttered!

  47. Both parents did. They walked down the aisle with me and we all had a group hug with my husband and his parents.

  48. Having the bride and groom walk down the aisle together is also a common custom in Finland! Personally, I love the idea!

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