Who should walk me down the aisle?

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Mario Kart, an open mic, and an aisle walk through a fog machine(!) at this creative Chicago wedding
What if you had… A FOG MACHINE TO WALK YOU DOWN THE AISLE?! More pics from this wedding here.

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?

Comments on Who should walk me down the aisle?

  1. David and I rounded up our friends and family (as we did the eating first, cause I paid for it so I was going to eat!) and we lead everyone to the site of the ceremony.

    My father never asked about it. My mother was more concerned about it than he was. She said “Don’t you want your dad walking you down the aisle?” to which I replied there wouldn’t be an aisle and my dad replied he didn’t care 🙂 He was also relieved when I said we wouldn’t do a daddy/daughter dance (or any dancing).

    Of course, the casualness and the informality of the whole thing was what we were going for. I’m a huge fan of Ariel’s suggestion of walking with your groom for the same reasons she said.

    • Hi, I’m a new fan- and I was wondering if you could give me some advice for my wedding – my fiance and I want to find a way to include a small memorial into our ceremony- such as a candle lighting- for both of our grandparents that can’t be here in body for our special day- I was wondering if you may have some other ideas? Thank you!

      • I had an outdoor wedding with folding chairs for my guests. All of my husband’s grandparents had passed as well as two of mine. I had a flower with a tag that had the name of each person we wanted to honor. the front row on both sides was reserved for those that we wanted to remember and a flower with a name tag was put on each chair. Afterward we gave the flowers to our parents. His parents got his grandparent’s flowers and my my mother got the flower with her mother’s name and my step mother got the flower with her father’s name. On the back of each tag I had printed “Though you cannot be here in body, we know you are with us in spirit”

      • Regarding a memorial, here is what i am doing for my father who passed away a few years ago. i am having a tiny photo frame with a picture of my father and I when i was about 4 tied to my bouquet stem. it won’t be obvious or sad, but, it will be with me. and i’ll be sure it gets a few close up photos. my fiance’s father (quite elderly) passed away earlier this year, he plans to wear his dad’s watch. we will have both our parents’ wedding photos on display beside our guest book as well.

        and i think i’ll have my mother walk me down.

      • Both my parents passed before my wedding. I had a bench that my Dad had build sitting at the front of the congregation. My sister made a quilt square from shirts of my parents which she placed on the bench. My parents oldest siblings, an uncle and aunt, processed together and places carnations on the bench and quilt square. (It was suppose to be roses but they didn’t get ordered. We swiped some carnations from the centerpieces. :))
        I recommend displaying something that is important about them. Something they made or represents a hobby. Make a note in your program regarding who the memorial is for. Our memorial was dedicated to all 4 sets of grandparents adn my parents.
        Personally, Im not a fan of displaying a picture cause the pictures around, I think, should focus on the bride and groom.
        *Oh yea, there was a light rain all during our ceremony on a covered bridge…we called it Tears from Heaven.
        Enjoy your day and cherish those not with you.

      • I framed photos of my family members that had passed and placed them on our cake table. Also, a friend of mine place his deceased grandfathers favorite sports coat on a front row chair during the ceremony to honor him and show that while he may be gone from this world, he was still present in our thoughts and on their wedding day. Hope that helps some!

      • At our reception I placed handmade dolls from Poland in traditional folk dress on a table with a picture of my Polish Grand Parents kissing & placed a candle by it (It was also appropriately placed by the tub of beer). I was very close to my Grandmother whom passed away right before I turned 16, I still missed her smiling face at my wedding but I know she was there & very happy for me.
        I explained the significance to my guests as part of being surrounded with old & new family.

    • I want to do a similar thing–just leading everyone to the place, no aisle–so I’m glad to hear this isn’t such an odd idea! We won’t be eating first, so maybe we’ll have to set up a pre-ceremony mimosa station to keep people milling around before it’s sitting down time!

  2. I was trying to choose between walking alone or walking with my husband, but in the end I had my stepfather walk me. My own father and I are also long estranged, but my stepfather has been more of a father to me.

    Today I am glad I did, because he passed away one year later and now I have that memory and photo to keep.

    I would say, whoever you feel closest to, even if it is more than one person.

  3. My husband and I walked in together… and loved it. Extra bonus: you get a beautiful tiny moment alone. Everyone is inside/seated, the wedding party has gone in, and everything just stops for a second. The best!

  4. My friend and her husband walked in together, based on an older custom of the bride and groom greeting guests at the door, and it was lovely. The pictures of them both together coming in are fantastic.

    If you want that passing on feeling, why not pick someone who has been important to you, even non-family? A mentor, a best friend, a friend of the family, anyone who had an impact and you would appreciate their support.

  5. I am getting married in September, and will be walking down the aisle with my mother. My father and I are also long estranged, and he will not be invited either for personal reasons. I thought long and hard about asking a male figure to do it, but I felt none of them would have been comfortable with it, and I don’t have a brother. In the end, I realized that all of my important family figures growing up were all females: my mom, grandma, aunts, sister, and best friends. SO, I finally decided that it’s most appropriate for my mother to “give me away”. Though, I totally agree with walking with your groom/significant other. I originally wanted to do things that way, but my mother in law is very very traditional, and freaked out enough when I informed her that not only was my ‘father’ not walking me down the aisle, but that he would not be invited either. (and she even knows why he isn’t welcome, and she still thinks its appalling! Sigh)

  6. My father passed away (but we were also estranged) so I struggled with this, too. I didn’t have any other male figures that fit the bill. I considered walking with my mother, as she was truly the most important part of my life, but when it came down to it, I couldn’t resolve the “property” feel of being given away.

    So I chose to enter the ceremony room and walk halfway down the aisle alone. My groom met me halfway, took my arm and we finished the journey to the altar together. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

    • I find the whole idea that a bride should be handed or passed off really disturbing. It is really a too-long lasting symbol of the patriarchal system marriage has been a tool of for hundreds of years. Praise be in the modern era a bride doesn’t neccesarily go from being the property of her father to the property of her husband, denied of the rights, even in enlightened societies, prescribed for humans. My father won’t be walking me down the aisle because he didn’t walk me every step of the way to this point in my life. I love and respect my father, but it was the decision of me and my partner tie the knot, it will never be a business arrangement between the two of them.

        • Just because she, personally, finds it disturbing doesn’t mean that she looks down on people who choose to do it. I also find it disturbing, but I also realise that other women don’t find it disturbing and either feel right about it or do not… Just because it didn’t feel right for me, or others, doesn’t mean disturbing. I think she conveyed how she personally felt well without putting others down quite well. There were a lot of things that didn’t feel right for me (like wearing white) that I wasn’t disturbed by, and some traditions that disturbed me personally on an ethical/moral level, but I’m fine with other people doing because that’s their belief.

          It’s much like people saying they find certain religions disturbing, but they’re also fine with people who do believe in it.

        • You can’t tell her what she meant to say. A dad is not the control of a daughter!!

        • Oh no, I feel disturbed as well. I personally have been told by my mother that I am “the sole property of your father until the day you walk down the aisle!” She was screaming at me. So I moved out, they are invited only as guests, and I am walking myself. I am not property.

      • I totally agree. I am getting married for the second time in December. I am having my sons escort me down the aisle (aka my backyard ) with my daughter ahead of us as bridesmaid. My Dad asked about giving me away and I politely told him no. Firstly I am not a commodity to be handed over to the highest bidder with the best dowry ( two goats and dozen chickens), I belong to nobody but myself and therefore should not be given to anyone. Secondly, its my second wedding, i have 3 nearly grown children, it seems ridiculous. My father understood and smiled saying, my special daughter who never compromises. Wish I had the confidence to say so the first time around. 🙂

      • See I don’t seeb that now it is like that, the person giving you away is more giving you there blessing, I know you don’t need it, but if my mum did not like my fiancee I would be really upset, my mum is the most important person in my whole life, had always been there for me through everything. She will be walking me down the aisle as support.

      • I don’t see it as a property being handled. It once was, just like the meaning of the wedding ring or getting your husband’s last name.
        However, fortunatly, traditions evolve.
        I see it more as rite of passage. Leaving your parents to become a grown independent woman, who chooses which man (or woman) she wants to live with.

        I’ll allways be my daddy’s little girl, even though my parents are separated since I was 3. I want him to give me away.
        But I think I also want my mom to do it. She was the one who raised me. She was the one that was there everyday.
        My problem is that I don’t know If I have enough space to have 3 people walking side by side.

        So, maybe I’ll ask my nephew to do it. And my niece and my husband’s niece to each bear a ring.
        Kids love that stuff.

        I don’t know. I really don’t.

    • I really like this. We had a really small ceremoney though, the “walk” was only 6 steps, so it wouldn’t have worked for us. We walked in together 🙂

  7. The advice in this post is spot-on. I am trying to decide what to do for my wedding, and it is giving me fits! I’ve been married before, and my dad gave me away then, and it was great, but my parents have NOT supported my current relationship AT ALL. I was totally estranged from them both for quite some time due to that, so it feels disingenuous to go the traditional route. I think I will wind up “going it alone…” and am a little sad about that, but cannot think of anyone I’d like to do that particular job. Thanks for helping me explore all the options!

  8. It’s Swedish tradition to walk down the aisle together. Our crown princess bucked tradition by walking with her father when she married last year.

    • I’m of Swedish heritage, and have been telling my fiance’s family that it’s traditional for Swede’s to walk down the aisle with their partners!

      I may not be doing this, but I definitely am keeping it in mind!

    • it is also a Romanian tradition to walk together to the altar (as we do not really have aisles in churches – just people gathering around you).

  9. you look up “daddys girl” and youd see my face! that said, my rents both raised a pretty upity feminist 😛 and both parents were definitely fine with my decision

    I walked down the isle with my fiance 🙂 Reasons: 1-i wanted people to gawk at him for he looked pretty spiffy in his own right 2-i didn’t want an “all eyes on me” situation and 3 (most importantly) we’re doing this thang together why not enter it together!

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