Who should walk me down the aisle?

Walking Down the Aisle
Yep, you can totally walk down the aisle by yourself. Tribe member CindyKates shows you how it's done.
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. 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.

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    • 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!

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  2. 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.

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  3. 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.

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  4. 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.

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  5. 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!

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

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  7. 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!"

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  8. 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.

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  9. 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. ;)

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  10. 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!

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  11. 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

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  12. 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.

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  13. 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)

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  14. 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!

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  15. 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.

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  16. 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!

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  17. 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!

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

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  19. 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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  20. For me, there was never any question about my dad taking me down the aisle, but I had read this post a few months ago and I remembered it recently. My cousin and bridemaid Joana is getting married this year and her father passed away about 10 months ago. She told me she didn't know who would take her down the aisle, that it was gonna be kind of a sad moment, and it was so hurtful for her to imagine it she was considering not even having a big ceremony to avoid the aisle. I told her what I had read here and I could see the relief in her eyes.
    She's now deciding between walking alone and honouring her father through a memorial bouquet (also featured here in OBB) or some other way, or else having our grandfather, a most gentle and generous soul, take her.
    So thank you, this is great and important advice and it can change people's perspectives and take a weight off their shoulders.

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  21. My friend has two older sisters, the eldest walked alone, the middle sister had her godfather walk with her, and my friend had her mother walk her. I love the symbolism of each of us walking up side aisles simultaneously, but I don't know how well that will work at the church. If it doesn't work, we will each enter with both of our parents one after the other.

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  22. There would also be the option of not walking down the aisle at all.

    Traditionally, the groom is just standing up there, waiting. Nothing says that a bride couldn't do that.

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  23. When I was wed in Vegas, there was no isle. I have contemplated many options on this subject time and time again. I never had a father figure in my life for more than a few years, and I don't associate with my grandfather. I am seriously considering the option of walking solo or having my uncle walk me down the isle. My uncle and I are very close.

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  24. My dad died when I was a lid, so my uncle aka his older brother is taking the position. He's family patriarch and served as my de-facto dad when I was young, so he's sort of earned it.

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  25. My dad is a beautiful uilleann piper and he will be playing, rather than walking, me down the aisle when I get married. I will walk in alone, and he will accompany the walk with 'The Brandon Voyage' as I start a new phase in my life. I even get teary now thinking about it!

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  26. I am so happy to have come across this thread. My problem lays here… I am neither close to my mother or my father and I do not feel as though either of them fit the bill to "give me away".

    I would like to ask my best friend (also my maid of honour).

    Any suggestions? Comments?

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  27. What if you have three people who you want to walk with you? For me, I'd love both of my parents and my grandfather walking me, but I can't figure out an arrangement that wouldn't be awkward or put someone behind me. Any suggestions?

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  28. For me the walk down the aisle is a bit of a dilemma as well. I have two dads (dad and stepdad) and while I am closer to my dad, my stepdad has always been a big part of my life particularly when I was a troubled teen with little to no relationship with my mom.
    This is something I have worried about even as a child since my first choice is my dad but I don't want my stepdad to feel left out. Personally, I have no problem walking the aisle alone but feel that would result in hurt feelings as well. I suppose it's just something that will have to be worked out in the future.

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  29. I'm having my best friend walk me down the aisle as both me & my partner have been married before & it seemed a little hypocritical that's why we thought this would be much more personal only now I don't know what she should dress in any ideas??? Please???

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  30. I want to walk with my fiance for reasons people have mentioned. I also want to avoid starry-eyed gazing at the bride while the groom is more-or-less ignored.

    But my fiance wants to be walked down the aisle, maybe by his mom, which I think is lovely. And long story made short, it might be Extra Meaningful for his mom. Nobody will be giving anyone away, but our marriage is also about joining our families.

    Except… my parents and grandparents are not living. I have no siblings. If I walk alone, or with anyone else in the family, it underscores my parents' absence. I'm also wary of choosing one side of my family over the other.

    I might ask my best childhood friend to walk with me…

    One related thing we did agree on yesterday: we'd like our officiant to introduce us as "[my name], daughter of [my parents' names]" and "[his name], son of [his parents' names]". That seemed right to us – a way to include and show respect to the people who raised us and the families we come from, whether they can be with us or not.

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  31. We are having a pagan ceremony so we will walk together. Equality is a big thing in our beliefs and we enter this union as equals. It is also symbolic because our life paths lay side by side and we no longer walk alone but in the same direction. Also detours around choosing between my father and my dad one has hardly been there and the other only for the last 9 years. I'm not attached to the giving the bride away just make me feels like cattle because it hold no connection of that from one family to a new one or the role of caring and protection of a dad like it does for other people.

    Butterfly releases are also popular in honour those that have gone before as some cultures believe spirits return as animals. In my family we always say 'hello pop' when we see a Ulysses butterfly. We only decided against it becuase I know I will cry way too much so we are having a couple of blue Butterflies around in our decorations. being right near the botanic gardens there might even be one that flutters past on the day.

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  32. I'm having my dad and maybe my mom as well walk me down the aisle.

    They are not giving me away and that won't be uttered by our officiant. I also feel that just BC someone is walking u down the aisle doesn't have to mean they are giving u away or that u are property. So I'm wondering for those that feel that way how is having a mom or child or best friend somehow elimate that feeling.

    I love all the alternative ideas BC the sentiment seems to be who is someone meaningful in your life, parent or not, blood related or not.

    I'm not into traditions and we will be writing our own vows. We have been together six yrs and I would love some thoughts on the points of making this about us sealing our commitment and two families being joined….

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  33. I always imagined my grandfather would escort me as I have no relationship with my biological father since childhood and although my stepfather has done a lot with me I would never really say we are close or that we even get along well sometimes. He also doesn't like my future husband at all. I have contemplated asking my uncle on my step fathers side with whom I'm very close (I know it's a tad unusual giving the relationship with my stepfather) or possibly my brother but worried this may cause problems for them should my stepfather act selfishly about it and not wanting to cause arguments within the family I have decided I am likely to ask my future father in law, especially as he has no daughters of his own just 3 sons. He always been great and I sincerely hope when it comes the time to ask them as we've not announced the engagement yet that he will be more than happy to.

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  34. I love this… really anyone can walk you down. I moved my wedding date up so my grandfather,who was in very ill health, could walk me down. Alas he was not able and my other grandparents gave me an option since I was not close to my Da (who lives as a Japanese resident overseas) and my mother had a restraining order on her by a family member attending. My Uncle (my mother's brother) was only about 10 years old when i was born and we have always been pretty close growing up together just about until he became a marine sgt. and I was bouncing as a pre-teen and teen between custody battles for years. We still haven't changed in our uncle/niece relationship and I've always admired and trusted him before I trusted my grandfather on my Da's side. No he didn't wear his blues (which our wedding was anything but formal..lol) but it was so special to have him part of something so special to me. And I actually have exciting news since I shared this…he is planning to come visit me on the Gulf and propose to his girlfriend..wanting me to be a part of it!! I'm so excited for him!! Love like that runs full-circle…whether it be with family or friends.
    You pick who you want, someone you trust, someone who protected you and helped you dust off when you've fallen..someone happy for you to go into the loving arms of someone who they pray will do the same for you for the rest of your life. Even if you have struggled and triumphed alone, don't feel bad walking by yourself.. you deserve to chose what you want out of that day.

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  35. we walked down the 'aisle' (actually a flight of stairs) together. It was sort of the only thing that seemed to make sense for us.

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  36. There's also the option of not even having an aisle. Our ceremony had an outdoor altar (it was just a big stump) in front of all the people we invited. We simply started the ceremony when the time seemed right. There were no words exchanged at all, just a ritual exchange of sake. I then briefly explained the ceremony and then invited guests up to drink with us. The whole thing only took about 20 minutes.

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  37. My parents both passed away some time ago and we are both second time arounders, my son is giving me away but otherwise I would have asked my future sister-in-law. She has been so supportive and is going to be our best woman!

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  38. I was walked down by my brother. I have nothing against my dad, but we had discussed the yucky feelings I get about the "father giving away his chattel" imagery, and wanted to stay away from that, which was easier to do when it was someone of the same generation. We also didn't have a wedding party, so our processional was simply our immediate families – Husband was walked down with his sister first, followed by his parents, each of my parents with their partners, and then my brother walking with me. I felt that the imagery of siblings "giving away" their siblings was more apt for our family situation and relationships, and it worked out well since we both have one opposite-gender sibling. I didn't get much feedback on whether or not it was weird or surprising to anyone, but no news is good news, I guess!

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