Not being given away: how I skipped the aisle-walking drama

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Walking down the non-aisle togetherFor some women, walking down the aisle with their father (or fathers!) can be a really beautiful way to honor the role that relationship has played.

For me, despite the fact that I'm a total daddy's girl, it wasn't a tradition that felt like a fit with my ceremony. I love my dad, but he wasn't “giving me away.” Separate even from the patriarchal history of a bride being property that was “given away,” I wasn't comfortable with the message it sent about my relationship with my father: my relationship with my partner and my relationship with my father are separate and equal. My relationship with my father shifted when I became an adult — we became peers, colleagues, co-conspirators. My relationship with my father did not shift when I found my partner. My dad and I remained peers, colleagues, and co-conspirators.

There was no sense of loss with my father when I got married. He'd raised me to be an independent, self-sustaining woman, and I'd been one long before I got married.

Because of this, walking down the aisle with my father felt odd — what was being given away? (Nothing.) What was changing? (Nothing.) For our ceremony, my partner and I decided to honor my father's role in my life in a different way — he's a poet, and so we asked him to read one of his poems. It was beautiful, and infinitely more meaningful to me than being walked down the aisle.

[related-post align=”right”]We've featured all sorts of ways to get down the aisle, including

  • Walking with one or both parents
  • Walking together with your partner
  • Walking by yourself
  • Walking with a child
  • Walking with a sibling
  • …We've even written about ideas on how to skip the aisle completely!

While I firmly believe there's no right way to get down the aisle, I do want to recognize that for some of us, it's not just about getting down the aisle… it's about finding a ceremonial way to reflect and recognize our relationships.

Comments on Not being given away: how I skipped the aisle-walking drama

  1. I thought like you. The only person who could “give me away” was me, because by my wedding, no one owned me or was responsible for me. I planned on walking down the aisle by myself. Then Husband decided he wanted his ex-wife to give him away. I enjoyed the logic of that, so I was all for it. I figured I could stand at the front with the officiant. Yay role-reversal!

  2. My dad passed away 4 1/2 years ago, and at the same time I also don’t agree that I’m being given away. It actually bothered my mom a lot that I’m not having her walk me down instead, even after I explained this to her and the fact that I feel uncomfortable with ANYONE taking my dad’s place.

    • I second that, and I’m sorry for your loss. I also lost my dad in June 2009. Instead, hubby and I walked up to our officiant together since we’re equals and belong to no one.

      Also, I was just generally uncomfortable with anyone assuming my father’s role. While even though I wouldn’t want him “giving” me away, his absence left a massive hole in any attempts to plan what my family considered a “traditional” wedding. It wasn’t about anyone but hubs and I anyway, and we loved walking up together and nudging each other to get a smile from the other 🙂

    • I just got married last week and had a similar issue – my dad passed away in 2002 and I didn’t think it was fair to assign his role to anyone else. I walked myself down the aisle but tied his wedding band and signet ring into my bouquet so he was walking with me in spirit.

  3. Well, I’m having a Catholic ceremony. And it is sort of wonky compared to other Christian ceremonies. But the major thing I’ve discussed with the priest is that it is important for both parties to come to the marriage willingly. In fact he has asked both of us, privately and together, if we are coming to get married of our own free will. (He also asked if either of us knew of any sexual irregularities that may prevent us from having children…oh Catholics and babies….) So in keeping in line with that, the bride is no longer considered “given away”, in fact the groom and the bride both walk down the aisle and meet each other at the altar.. The groom can be accompanied by his parents or not, and the bride may have her mom/dad/relative or not. Of course we have a pretty liberal priest and it depends on what church you get married in…but I’m happy with what we have worked out. Both my mom and dad will be walking with me to support me. I’ll probably be a teary mess…

    • At two Catholic weddings I attended recently, the bride walked with her father halfway down the aisle, where she met the groom and they walked together to the altar.
      At another Catholic wedding, the couple had a baby and they had wedding and christening during the same service. They walked in together, holding the baby, with his mother and her father escorting them, on either side. So sweet!

      • Seems some of you are determined to omit and ignore her mother. Her mother is not less important than her dad. In fact, the mom is more important. You can’t ignore the mother of the bride.

  4. I always wanted both of my parents to walk me down the aisle, but when I mentioned this to my dad, he seemed kind of hurt. He said something to the effect of ‘well maybe we can talk to your mom more about that and see what would work out for the best’.

    I will say, I am a total daddy’s girl. I have a wonderful relationship with both of my parents. And its one of the reasons why I wanted them both to give me away. I didn’t realize how much it would matter to my dad to be the ONLY one to walk me down the aisle. (I’m 2nd oldest out of 4 and the oldest daughter).

    We have plenty of time to decide. And I am fine with giving my dad this gift of walking me down the aisle on his own. But what are ways I could equally honor my relationship with my mother?

    • If you’re not planning on tossing your bouquet, you could always present it to her at the reception. Also, I had a friend recently have a mother/daughter dance.

    • This is something I’ve been thinking about as well – I want both of my parents to walk me in, but I’m worried my dad may be somewhat hurt by that. I’m the closest thing he has to a ‘daddy’s girl’, but honestly I think all of us are much closer to our mom (I have a sister and two brothers). I don’t feel quite right with just him walking me down the aisle when both of my parents made huge sacrifices for me. (my dad worked full-time to support us financially at a job he wasn’t thrilled with. My mom gave up her wanted career so she could stay home and raise us)

      I think I may bring it up with my mom first and see how she judges the situation. But I do just have a fantastic image in my mind of me holding my mom and dad’s hands as I walk down the aisle.

  5. My father is ill, and we’re not sure how long he will be with us. I am thoroughly pleased to have him with us to ESCORT me down the aisle–not give me away. There is no question once we reach the front about “who gives this woman”. He is escorting me, and then sitting down. Our families will confirm as a group that they will support and love the union.
    I wouldn’t take this away from my dad for a second. He’s lost his ability to read, and doesn’t do well in front of crowds, so this was a good compromise for us.

  6. We solved this problem by not having an aisle! Our ceremony was in the shape of a circle, and although I approached the circle from another place, my partner did the same from the opposite direction. It wasn’t clear to me while I was walking exactly where to walk or where to enter the circle, because it wasn’t a defined path.

    All eyes were not on me as the bride – all eyes were on neither of us until we got into the center of the circle! It also set my partner and I up as equals to each other rather than positioning the bride as differently important than the groom (in our case we were a bride and a groom).

  7. I walked half of the way myself, and then was joined by my man (at the same point where our ladies were paired up with our guys for the procession). That was the only appropriate way to represent myself and our relationship, and it was the best against-the-grain decision that we made in planning our wedding!

  8. I love that you followed your instinct and did what felt right – weddings are all about making it your own. What a nice way to reflect your relationship with your father and have him share what is important to him through his poetry. I’m sure that was a beautiful moment!

  9. My dad passed away 10 years ago so I am going to ask my granddad to walk me down the aisle instead. No-one could ever replace my dad, and no-one will be ‘giving me away’ as I am not a commodity to be passed from one family to another; for me, it’s about creating a very special family moment. As his first grandchild, I have always been very close to my granddad. Long before my fiance and I were even together – usually after a few “Granddad’s swiggies” (whiskies!) – he used to tease me that he was going to live long enough to see me get married. He’s in his eighties now and is in the early-ish stages of Alzheimer’s disease so by asking him to walk with me I know this will make him and my family very proud.

  10. We don’t have an aisle, but we have a double staircase (the ceremony is on one of the landings). My dad will walk with me down the staircase. I don’t think anyone thinks that he is “giving me away” but instead is walking with me because we have a good relationship and I want him there for me. I’d always thought I’d walk alone or with both my parents but somehow this seems like the thing I want to do now.

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