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Ask Team Practical: Feminist Aisle Walking


Honoring all your parents, equally

by Liz Moorhead, Ask Team Practical

Ask Team Practical: Feminist Aisle Walking | A Practical Wedding

I am sure that I am not the only one to have difficulty balancing tradition and feminism, but I also have been struggling with how to fit my family into the equation. I have very clear ideas of what I am comfortable with and how the ritual aspects of getting married need to be adjusted to fit my strong feminist core. I am so incredibly uncomfortable with the idea of a man walking me down the aisle and handing me off to another man. Also, why do the groom’s parents not give him away? Why is he deemed independent enough to stand for himself, but I am not? Why do I have to walk all the way to him—aren’t we supposed to meet in the middle and create something new? I could rant about this for ages!

In my head, I’ve always imagined walking down the aisle together with my partner. We made the decision to get married as a team, so it seems only right that we begin the journey together too. It wasn’t until I actually started wedding planning that I realized the flaw in my plan: my father has always dreamed of walking his little girl down the aisle. It is very important to him and I want to honor that (especially since I have already made him let go of the giant party he was so excited about). I feel more comfortable with the idea if my mother walks with us as well. The problem is that I am blessed with FOUR incredibly loving and supportive parents. Yes, two of them are not biologically my parents, but both are still very important to me. I don’t want them to feel “less than” or like they are not my “real” parents, because they are. I have considered including the groom’s parents in similar rituals so things feel more even, but he does not have a strong relationship with his parents. He almost didn’t even invite them, so honoring his parents does not seem appropriate.

So my question is: How can I find a way to honor all parents, incorporate what is important to my father, and not feel like a piece of property being handed off? Are there alternative ways of making it down the aisle? How much magic is this going to take? (Okay, so I guess that’s three questions. Oops.)

Flummoxed Feminist

Dear FF,

To be frank, I thought about this question a lot before I sat down to write today. (In fact, I really hope I’m not late turning it in.) The whole wedding thing is sort of about growing up and away from your parents. At the same time, the wedding day isn’t yours alone, and it’s an important, long-awaited, big moment sort of time for your folks, too. But even considering that second part, I firmly fall on the side of going with your gut on this one. If it goes against your standards, your comfort level, your worldview, your perception of self—then, no. Don’t have dad walk you down the aisle, even if it breaks his heart just a smidge. You’re finding that the stuff you’ve always pictured for yourself sometimes shifts and changes when you factor in the very real people you love into the equation. It’s alright for parents to learn that, too.

You mentioned being open to other ways of getting dad involved in the aisle walk. When you’re done reading this here column, give him a call and see if he has ideas. Make it clear that a solo dad and daughter walk isn’t on the table, and see if there’s something else that honors the heart of what the whole thing means to him. I’m betting he doesn’t see you as property to be given away, but instead just wants to be there as an integral part in helping you move toward this moment (one way of looking at the aisle walk).

I LOVE your idea of including both your parents, but hear ya on including everyone you love. The thing is, you may have a bunch of parents, but that doesn’t mean you need to honor them all in the same way. “Even” and “fair” doesn’t necessarily mean “same.” Biological mom and dad can walk you, and then maybe you have readings for the other two, or make a speech devoted to them, or join them in some special dance. Another option is to just nix that parental walk down the aisle completely, maybe walk with your partner as you described, and instead have your parents (all of em!) stand around you in the ceremony space.

Before I hand this one off to Team Practical (you ready, guys?), I want to point out what you say about feeling more pressure to do the dad and daughter aisle walk “since I have already made him let go of the giant party.” That’s not the way it works, guys. Compromise doesn’t mean, “I made the last decision, so I’ll sacrifice my standards on the next one.” Compromise is usually less tit for tat, and more about getting to the core of what someone wants and figuring out a way to honor that without losing what’s important to you, too. Meaning: go talk to him.

*****

Team Practical, what are some other ways our FF can honor her dad without overlooking the rest of her parents or her feminist principles?

Photo by APW sponsor Kelly Benvenuto Photography.

 

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off! 


Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her son.

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  • Carrie

    This idea won’t work for more traditionally set up venues that you can’t change like churches. If you’re getting married somewhere where you can set things up yourselves, I’ve seen alternative setups. You could split the seating into 3rds and your fiance walks down one aisle and you the other. Or from opposite sides aross the front. Or in a spiral and the “handoff” between your parents and fiance happens half way through. (That last one would be tricky to set up.)

    Additional ways of honoring parents could be giving them a flower during the ceremony. Could parents walk down the aisle before or after the bridal party with their own song? Is giving a speech or saying grace at the reception important to one of them?

  • Penelope

    The Jewish tradition–which I like–is that the bride and groom are both accompanied by their parents down the aisle. And that feels so much more feminist than being “given away” by your dad. I considered having my mom and MIL walk me down the aisle, then have my dad and FIL walk my husband down the aisle, but my dad nixed that because he wanted to walk with me. Other ideas: When my parents got married, my mom couldn’t deal with the idea of walking down the aisle, so she was ready at the front before the guests came in. I could also see it being really nice for you to have one set of parents walk in together, then you alone, then another set of parents behind you, surrounding you with love from front and back.

    • scw

      when your parents got married, was your dad at the front before the guests came in too? I love this idea (I also love, by the way, the idea of the groom walking down the aisle to the bride! wish we’d see that sometimes).

    • littleone

      Another Jewish wedding here. I also like the fact that both bride and groom get escorted. I’ve seen it done both ways – moms with bride and dads with groom , or respective parents with each. The idea is not at all about being ‘property’ transfered from one owner to another. Rather, it is about each party leaving their birth family and creating a new baby family together. Incidentally, the chuppah represents their first “home.”:)

    • Audrey

      I love this tradition, and we totally stole it for our non-Jewish wedding. Both of our parents walked both of us down the aisle.

      Unfortunately it doesn’t sound like this would work in the letter writer’s case. Maybe something where all the parents walk down the aisle and get seated first, or like Penelope says surrounding yourself with the various parents?

    • http://www.nerds-in-love.net Stephanie

      Not that I’m biased or anything, but I think the Jewish tradition totally wins this round. (oh, I’m totally biased)

  • Iz

    I was also very uncomfortable with the idea of a man walking me down the aisle and “handing me off to another man”. I toyed with the idea of walking by myself, but I knew it’d upset my Dad. So I had both parents walk me. My Mum was so touched to be included – and even my grandmother commented on how nice it was to have both of them do it. As Liz suggested, you could have your step-parents do something else in the ceremony, or perhaps follow you down the aisle?

  • http://theengineerswife.wordpress.com jenn

    I was in a similar predicament. But was lucky enough to have a Dad who wasn’t particularly tied to walking me anywhere. Me and my husband walked the aisle together after our bridal party. Then our parents all (my 4 and his 2) came forward to lead the congregation to promise to support us etc.
    Later in the ceremony my Dad and his Mum did readings. My Mum is a minister and she led the whole shebang.
    All the dads helped us nail up an “emergency kit” of love letters and a bottle of wine with glasses to be opened on our 10th anniversary or on any major hard time.
    All in all, we felt as if everyone was a big part of it, and we loved having them all. I think that walking in with my husband was one od our best decisions, and it really set the tone for this being something we were coming into equally. Our ceremony qas also themed around this being a marking of an existing relationship, rather than the start of a new relationship, so our aisle walk fit in nicely.
    I’m sure you will find a way to include and recognise everyone. Good luck.

    • http://www.severnerwillow.wordpress.com Amy

      LOVE the “emergency kit” idea! Such a dad thing too

  • scw

    great question! I struggle with the idea of walking down the aisle too, not only as a feminist but also an introvert. I’m still pre-engaged so I haven’t talked to my father about this, but I know there is a possibility that walking me down the aisle is going to be important to him. if it happens to be something he’s been picturing my whole life, I think I will do the walk with him. I want him to have some moments that are important to him at the wedding, even if it means doing something I might not do otherwise. however, I still feel like this is my choice. if FF is really incredibly uncomfortable with it, as she says, that’s a different story. if compromising feels less like accommodation (as it might in my case) and more like abandoning your values, I’d find another way to honor him.

    I know you said that the groom doesn’t have a great relationship with his parents, so this might not work for him (or your father), but could you have each set of parents walk down the aisle and then you and the groom walk together?

  • CJ

    I’ve been toying with this same issue and I’m not even engaged yet. Luckily, my boyfriend is Jewish and I’m going with the “Both of his parents are walking him down the aisle and I want the same” route. Plus, my dad and I have always shared a love of music and I feel that the Father Daughter Dance will be more significant than him walking me down an aisle solo. It’s not going to be easy to tell him, but he will have to deal with it.

  • Kelly

    I ended up half walking by myself, and half walking with my parents. We had a long walk down a hill to the ceremony site, and the actual gathered guests only covered about a third of that distance. So my parents walked together to the back of the congregation, then stopped and turned to wait for me, which also indicated to everyone that they should turn and look for the bride. Then I walked to meet them and all three of us finished the walk together. It was very sweet and felt perfect to me – I was able to walk myself to my wedding as the adult I am, but also acknowledge the role these two people had in getting me there and lean on them for support in the final moments of transition.

    • Rachel B

      Nice! I did something sort if similar. I walked to the back of the seats with my brother and my now-husband met us there. I walked the rest of the way down the aisle with him, indicating that we were making the decision to get married as a team, and no one was giving me away. I would have walked the first part alone but it was pretty far and I didn’t want everyone looking at me walking all dorky by myself for that long!

  • Kat R

    I definitely relate to the struggle to try to honor all four parents, and avoid traditions that I was uncomfortable with. For me, the aisle walk was really composed of two parts – the walk itself, and the “giving away”. I kept the aisle walk with my biological dad as a way to honor him, and for the religious symbolism it represents for me. I changed the giving away though – Dad will give me a kiss and pass me off, but later in the ceremony our officiant will ask our entire families to offer their blessing and prayer to us as we form a new family. My stepdad is playing a hymn on his guitar during the ceremony, and for Mom and Stepmom the big honor is in being as involved as possible with all the little planning details than being pushed out in front of everyone during the ceremony (though they are walking down the aisle ahead of us themselves).
    I think it’s a good idea to ask all the parents what they want – not everyone likes to be the center of attention, and maybe someone would be more honored by a private show of affection. I also learned that for step-parents, participation can be complicated on their end. For me, it is a no brainer that they are fully family and parental units and I wouldn’t make any distinction, but in front of a large extended family my stepmom was reluctant to do anything to appear to subvert my mom because it might bring on unpleasantness for her. I hadn’t thought of it that way, and it’s a shame that people don’t always understand, but she will enjoy the wedding a lot more if her role is more “behind the scenes” and I never would have known that if I hadn’t asked.

  • never.the.same

    Could your two sets of parents walk together, in front of you and your partner? You could make a note in the program that you and your partner are walking in together, following in the footsteps of [your parents' names], whose love, support and (maybe?) example of fulfilling marriages you are grateful for. They could pause at the front of the aisle and then hug/kiss you both before they take their seats, so no one is given away, you get to walk in together and they all get a place of honor.

    If you and your dad want an extra-special role for him, he could also say something like “On behalf of [us parents] we want to wish you the best as you start your new life together.”

    • Shira

      This is basically what we did: we had several couples walk down the aisle before us – two sets of grandparents (my grandmother was accompanied by my brother), two sets of parents – and then my husband and I walked down together. I’d known for a long time that I wanted us to walk together even though it’s rare in our (Israeli) culture and it really made sense for us. I wanted to go through this (somewhat scary) moment together! Also, it produced probably my favorite picture of the wedding!
      The parents were included in a lot of other ways – they stood under the chuppah with us and later in the evening each set of parents made a toast which included giving us a symbolic gift/something that was passed down in the family.

  • AmandaS

    My paternal grandmother is walking me down the aisle. My father passed away a few years ago and when Love and I finally got engaged, I asked my mom if she wanted to walk me down the aisle and she was not comfortable with that. I was set to walk by myself when she suggested my grandma. Which was just about perfect! Perhaps that is a solution for FF, choosing a female representative of her or her father’s family? I also like the idea of meeting halfway down the aisle.

    To address the “giving away” part, our officiant will ask: “Who brings this woman and with whose blessings does she come?” My grandma will respond “I bring her with the blessings of her family.” Then while she’s still standing with us, the officiant will ask the parents to stand and ask them if they promise to support our union. They’ll all say “we do” and then Love will help grandma to her seat.

    • http://www.twitter.com/snippetsofsarah Sarah E

      Love this idea. Grandma for the win!

    • Bunny

      Replying because I love this.

      My dad wants to “give me away”… well, my stepdad technically but he’s dad to me. It wasn’t something I’d even considered until he asked if he was “allowed to”, as our hand-fasting isn’t even going to have an aisle for me to walk down and neither of us are into that sort of thing, but it’s important to my dad and I wanted to find a way to incorporate his desire for that aspect of the traditional thing into my very non-traditional wedding. But the way you’ve worded it here is beautiful.

      Would it be okay if I used your wording as a basis to create my own?

  • http://jacquelynsparks.com Jacquelyn

    I am getting married in a month and my dad will be walking me down the aisle. It was certainly something that I weighed and considered but in the end, I decided to ask my dad if he would because of the depth and importance of our relationship. My mom died when I was 16 and my dad has been a strong but sometimes struggling single parent for the last ten years. Asking him to “walk” with me through a important life event feels right for us and in a way, I feel like is taking back the gesture on my terms. If my mother were still living, I would feel different and want both of my parents to walk with me but in this case, I am happy to have my dad by my side as he has been so many times before.

    • kata

      same here. my mom died when i was 10. if things were different i’d have them both walk with me, but i want my dad to walk with me for the same reasons.

  • Laura C

    Our basic principle is that everything should be the same for each of us in this stuff. Actually, I made a pitch for me to go down the aisle alone and then my fiance’s mom to walk him down, figuring it would be a little gender flip that would be more comfortable for me — I feel like walking with people would just make me feel a little more awkward about having everyone looking at me — but my mom said she was worried then people would think I don’t like my parents as much as my fiance likes his mom (his dad is dead). So either both of us walk with our parents or neither of us, we haven’t decided yet. But his grandparents, if they’re able to be there, will definitely get special music as they walk in as the first part of the procession.

    That doesn’t get to the question’s specifics at all, though, so here’s a question: if the groom isn’t close with his parents, is there any older adult he does feel is an important support and mentor? An uncle or aunt or godparent? If so, could that person walk him down so that it was a little more equal between the two of you? Or what about … at my college graduation, one of the nicest things was that the faculty lined up along two sides of a path and clapped as the graduates processed through. I wonder if there’s a way to adapt that for a wedding. You can’t have your parents line the aisle in a way that blocks your guests’ view, but maybe have them all standing at the front of the aisle, as the last thing you pass through, and hug and kiss each of them as you pass?

  • Sara

    Ugh, thank you for covering this today. It’s something I’ve been struggling with BIG time. My main problem is that I don’t have a great relationship with my dad – especially lately, I’ve been feeling very emotionally distant from him and I have a lot of anger towards him and all in all he stresses me the eff out. Unless our relationship drastically changes between now and next summer, I just don’t see myself being comfortable with the father-daughter aisle walk. I don’t want my feelings in that moment to be dominated by negative thoughts about him.

    But, same deal as above, I’m pretty sure it will break my dad’s heart if I tell him I don’t want him to walk me. And I can imagine him making a fuss over it. It may be worth it to let him walk me just to avoid months of guilting and pouting from him.

    • N

      Oh Sara, I am in the same boat. Ugh indeed.

    • Sara

      I felt the exact same way about my dad. I went back and forth about a zillion times, but I eventually decided it wasn’t worth it to hurt my dad that much, and I had my mom walk with me too which provided sort of a buffer. And honestly, I was so focused on other things that day that I didn’t even think about it really.

  • znna

    Sigh, I was hoping to have both of my parents walk me down the aisle (for all of the reasons mentioned above), but when I mentioned it to my mom she was very opposed, saying she didn’t even want to do it. I think it’s due to a desire to avoid stealing my dad’s thunder (rather than, say, shyness), but it was a little painful to hear that she wouldn’t even consider it!

    • CJ

      I have a friend in this same situation. Other people have even said “It’s important to the bride, you should consider it” but her mom just isn’t comfortable with the idea.

  • Becky

    Could you include a modified ring warming? Walk down the aisle by yourself, and have all of your parents (your four, his two) say a prayer/blessing/wish for your marriage over your rings before you exchange them. My fiance and I are each walking down the aisle with our respective parents, and then including the ring warming as a way of including our grandparents. It’s a way of getting everyone involved in the ceremony without compromising any feminist ideals.

    • http://teastrumpets.wordpress.com kyley

      Oh, this is a really lovely idea!

  • http://teastrumpets.wordpress.com kyley

    I’m as vocal a feminist as you can get, and I think that it’s important to listen to what speaks to you as you navigate the process. Personally, I really wanted my dad to walk me down the aisle for a variety of pretty personal reasons, but we infused feminism into other aspects of our ceremony and reception. (For example, we were announced as “wife and husband, husband and wife.”) My husband walked in with his grandmother and mother, to start off the ceremony, so in that way we were both “lead in/given away” by others.

  • Kirstin

    We are going to go the totally non-traditional route and have decided to nix the “aisle” entirely. We are actually doing sort of a unique set up – cocktail hour first, followed by ceremony, then straight into reception, all at the same restaurant venue. Since our guests will be gathering for some social time, we will literally just gather folks in a semi-circle when it’s time to start the ceremony. Our plan is to actually already be together greeting our guests and we will lead everyone to the space together. This wouldn’t work for everyone, but for us, I think it will also help calm some of our nerves in terms of “being in the spotlight.” I had no desire to have everyone turn and look at me as I walk down an aisle, the fact that they will be staring at me during the ceremony is pressure enough. Since my dad died 7 years ago, having him walk with me also wasn’t an option, and I would rather avoid the “who walks with me” dilemma all together.

    • C

      Ugh, YES, I totally feel this way about people staring at me as I walk down the aisle. My fiance and I are planning to walk in together, but we’ve discussed the idea of us just being at the front of the church when people arrive so we aren’t being “presented” to our guests. I’m still mulling that over, but I do realize that we will eventually have to walk OUT of the church together also, so either way, people will be watching me walk. :/

    • Emmy

      I went to a wedding like this. It was at the bride’s parents’ house. Both the bride and groom were out socializing with guests as they arrived. Then we all walked over to the ceremony area and stood while they said their vows. And then we had dinner! It was really nice and simple.

  • Jess

    My gut was the same as yours – I really wanted to walk down the aisle with my (now) husband. I love my dad and have a great relationship with him, but I am a bit of an introvert, and always feel most comfortable in crowds with my guy by my side. I just knew I’d be freaking out if he wasn’t holding my hand as we walked down the “aisle” (it was an outside wedding, so it was more like “across the grass”).

    Anyway, we set it up so that the processional was: 1) bridal-party/groomsmen; 2) parents-in-law; 3) my parents; 4) me, my guy, our dog (the official “ringbearer”).

    It was perrrrfect for us. My dad didn’t mind – maybe because we have such a good relationship, he understood why I needed to walk out with my guy. We made sure to honor our parents in other ways (i.e. special dance, toasts, etc). My husband and I have been together since high school, so we’ve grown up together in a lot of ways. I think the walk down the aisle really symbolized that growing up process for us. Added plus, the pictures came out pretty cute: http://michellearlotta.blogspot.com/2011/09/jess-mark.html

  • Katie

    I recently saw a wedding where the couple was waiting, and all the guests walked to them. Was that on here? It was lovely, and they said it was great to see everyone’s faces as they approached. In addition to lifting the Jewish processional for my wedding, I also lifted their “seven blessings”, and we split them up among our parents and had them read them to us as a reading. That was really nice. Here’s the text: http://www.rabbimargie.com/the-seven-blessings-adapted-from-deena-metzger/ You could also ask each one to write their own, which would be very personal for them and probably very moving.

  • Meredith

    We had our moms walk together first, then dads, then our two (both female) witnesses, then my husband and me, holding hands. It worked for us, and the nice part was that there was no hand-wringing about whose parents were walking first and who was standing where and who was giving whom to whom, and no awkwardness about opposite-gender arm holding (does anyone, male or female, really know how to do that in a non-awkward way anymore?). It avoided sticky issues like my parents being divorced or me not really getting along with my dad (he was not walking me down the aisle and “giving me away,” no way nohow). It was fast, easy, and symmetric, symbolized our new family unity, and everyone was happy with it. There are adorable pictures of our moms giggling together, too. :-) I recommend it.

  • Zeph

    I was in exactly the same position for my wedding. I hated the whole “giving away” thing, but it was VERY important to my Dad that he get to do the aisle walk with me. I also hated how excluded my fiance felt from the whole process, because to him the whole wedding felt “bride heavy” and like he was just along for the ride. That everyone assumed it was “MY day” instead of “our day”. The answer for my husband and I was multi-faceted:

    First, we reworked the aisle walk so that it felt less “bride processional” and more this is an honoring of the people who helped us get to this day. We each had one Grandmother in attendance, so they walked down the aisle together behind the officiant (who was my Uncle). Then the music changed AND was the same song the whole way through, rather than changing for me…it felt more inclusive and made Husband’s entrance feel just as special as mine. Then our bridal party walked down the aisle. Because all of them were friends and family to us both, rather than “his” or “mine”, we alternated Bridesmaid, Groomsman, Bridesmaid….. Then everyone stood up as Husband walked down with his mother, followed by me with my father.
    This dramatically shifted the feeling of the whole thing and I didn’t feel “given away” at all. More like, look at all these amazing people who are walking with us on this journey.

    Which leads to the second part:
    For me it was as simple as choosing to look at it differently.

    • Katelyn

      This is so great! I had an extremely similar idea a few comments down, I totally missed seeing yours. I’m glad it worked out so well! It could be modified to work with a lot of different family dynamics.

  • js

    I’d like to offer my own experience with this. I do not have a close with relationship with either of my parents but both of them walked me down the aisle. I admit, this was not a feminist idea so much as I really didn’t care that much about it and I wanted them both to be happy. It turns out this was both a bad/good thing. I started crying and couldn’t stop the moment I started my walk. I do not wish this to happen to anyone, but I was grateful to my parents for literally holding me up so I didn’t faint (anxiety issues, much?) After I had some time to think about this and some distance from the wedding, I realize I wish I would’ve gone with my gut and walked down the aisle with my husband. I know he would’ve calmed me (he is the calm to my crazy, most of the time) and it would’ve felt more authentic. We were already a family before we got married. We were already partners in every way but on paper. This was just to make it official and because it was important to our daughter. Neither of my parents would’ve been hurt by this, as I would’ve had a good “excuse”. I also wish we would’ve seated those important to us and put it in the programs. Seating my grandmother and having someone designated to walk her down the aisle (someone did but it wasn’t planned), seating step parents if you have them, etc. My Dad also honored us at the reception with a song. That was more than enough to make him feel included. So do what feels right for you and your baby family.

  • kathleenicanrah

    I thought about this a lot as well, and settled on something that felt very good and true for me– I had my dad lead a welcome speech/toast at the ceremony (we had a backyard wedding, and served champagne as guests arrived) and then he “announced” our entrance- and my husband to be and I walked down the aisle together. It gave my dad an honor spot, he made everyone tear up, AND I still got to enter and exit the ceremony with my new family. good luck!!

  • Sara

    I ended up having both of my parents walk me down the aisle, but as I had been fully independent for several years, the “giving away” part made me uncomfortable. We did a declaration of support instead, wherein once we got to the end of the aisle, our officiant asked both of our parents to stand and asked them if they would support our marriage, welcome the other person into the family, etc. The wording was really pretty and now I’m annoyed I can’t find it anywhere :)

  • Laura

    What if you walked down the aisle with your partner and met both your and your partner’s parents at the end of the aisle? My cousin did kind of a variation on this at her wedding (she wanted both her father and stepfather to walk with her, so they met the remaining parents/stepparents and the groom) and it was a really beautiful way of seeing two whole families come together. The collective parents opened the ceremony by giving their blessing/support to their marriage. You could tweak this set-up with really any variation of people.

  • kata

    My friend was walked down the aisle by her 6 parents (biological, step, and an aunt and uncle that raised her for several years during some really tough times for her family). It was beautiful and she just looked surrounded by love.

  • http://karynthiandesigns.com m richards

    Ok, I have an idea, but its complicated. What if you walked halfway down the aisle with your birthies.then had your stepies meet the three of you in the middle to exchange kisses/hugs and lead your parents away. Then you would be be free to walk the last bit yourself, our maybe with fiance.

  • Anka

    It’s our ecclesiastical tradition that the couple walks down the aisle together. Which is what my husband and I did. We had our parents escorted up to their front row seats in their own processional, then our bridal party, then us.

    My sister, however, really wanted my parents to walk her down the aisle. So she had a more non-traditional aisle shape, where they could walk her partway and then she joined her husband about 3/4 of the way up and walked the rest of the way with him.

  • Katelyn

    I’m in a similar situation, except I do actually really want to walk down the aisle with my dad. Here’s my current thought, yet to be vetted by my fiance and our parents:

    1. Attendants
    2. My mom and his dad
    3. Him and his mom
    4. Me and my dad

    Everyone will stay standing at the front. I’ll hug my parents while his hugs his, and then we’ll switch sides before they are seated and the ceremony begins.

    We don’t have room in our aisle to be three across so I think this is the best solution. I’m not being “given away” – we’re both escorted by our parents down the aisle to signify the formation of a new family while recognizing our roots. Greeting each others’ parents instead of them “presenting” me to him signifies our independence as fully grown adults while paying our respects.

    Criticism or suggestions for modification are welcome, I literally just thought of it and haven’t vetted it out thoroughly.

    • Marcela

      We did something very similar! My guy walked in first escorted by his mom, then came my mom and his dad, then my bridesmaids escorted by the groomsmen, and then me and dad. Our ceremony was on the front porch of a historic house so the parents stood up on the porch surrounding me and my fella, and our bridal party each stood on their own step. It felt like a great way to really show how our family is coming together in our marriage and that we had the support of all of these wonderful people.
      When my (half) sister got married a few years ago she had to deal with both our dad and her mom who had each remarried, and her husband’s parents. She had them mix up the same way (MOG w/ Groom, FOB w/ Bride, MOB w/ FOG, and then the remarried partners walked together in between. It sounds complicated but really was lovely.

  • Caroline

    So personally, I think it would be great to see someone walk down the aisle surrounded by four loving parents! You could walk in a sort of V formation if the aisle isn’t physically wide enough to walk five abreast.

    If you end up choosing to walk down the aisle just with your partner, or by yourself, there can be other ways to honor your parents.

    If you can write your own ceremony, you may want to include a family blessing or family vows with your parents. We did this in our wedding ceremony: brought our parents up to the front, told them how happy and grateful we were to have a good relationship with them (because we do, and we are grateful for it). All of us held hands, we promised to do our best to maintain our good relationship with our families of origin as we take this new step to create a new family of our own, and they promised to do their best to support our new family with love and respect.

    Obviously, what you want to say/do in such a family ritual will be different depending on your relationship with your parents. But we found it was a good way to meaningfully honor our families of origin in the ceremony.

    Since your partner doesn’t have a great relationship with his parents, you may want to alter this idea somewhat to include just your parents. Maybe, immediately after you and your partner walk down the aisle, you could have your officiant call your parents up to stand beside you, and have some question-and-response about “Do you support [name] and [name] as they enter into marriage?” or similar. Sort of a more egalitarian version of the “traditional” question-and-response with a father after he walks the bride down the aisle (“who gives this woman” etc.)

  • Steph

    So we didn’t have a processional at all, the only people who “walked down the aisle” were my Dad and myself. I struggled with a lot of things from a feminist perspective, but having my Dad walk me down the aisle was never much of an issue for me. We’ve always been close and having him walk with me didn’t feel like him “Giving me away,” more like him supporting me. He was just thrilled to be included (and happy I let him wear his kilt). One of my best wedding memories was my Dad offering me a slug of whiskey from his flask while we waited to make our appearance.

    We honored our mothers by having each of them do a reading during the ceremony (we didn’t do anything for my fiance’s Dad b/c he wasn’t present). It turned out really nice and all the parents felt involved in the ceremony.

  • http://readingandthensome.blogspot.com/read Martha

    I myself never struggled with the “Dad-giving-me-away” bit. I’ve always been very close to my Dad and quite frankly, enjoyed the walk with him. In retrospect, I can say it represented something more than “this girl was mine and now she’s yours.” I think that is a rather close-minded perspective on the whole thing. Yes, the tradition behind the gesture is rooted in that mindset. But just as we in this community re-claim other words and gestures (ie. wife, mother, partner, ceremony), I think you can do the same with this act. Much like others have said, any parental figure walking you down the aisle represents the many years of support and love that went in to your upbringing. Now, as a married couple, you will do that together. You will love and support one another as we have done for the two of you for many years.

    That being said, I agree with Liz. If you’re not comfortable with it, don’t do it. What does your venue look like? Someone mentioned having a long walk/walk to the aisle. Could your Dad perhaps walk you to the aisle and then you can walk down it yourself? (does this imagery make sense?) Even if the venue isn’t set up so that the “audience” sees this gesture, the photograph could be there with you and your Dad. Even if he just walks you from the dressing room to the church door, it will be a sweet moment for the two of you that no one else will see – sort of like a first look bit, but with Dad.

    • KH_Tas

      Hey, just a thought. It may not mean anything to you, but it means a lot to other people so perhaps calling the view closed minded is a bit harsh.

  • beth

    we (husband and i) greeted people as they arrived to the church. it was SO MUCH FUN to see people as they arrived, and they were so excited to see us. also, WE invited them, so it only makes sense to me that WE greet and welcome them as they arrive.

    we did not have a traditional bridal party; instead, all of our people stood in the back with us greeting people and mingling; once all guests were seated, our people walked down as family units and sat in the front seats. music was playing but it wasn’t an obvious processional, something i really wanted to avoid. once all the people were sat, we had sibling+partner walk up (which is when people realized what was happening), then mom+dad walked up and sat, and then we walked up together.

    also, i gave three short toasts at the reception, one in which i specifically honored my parents for all they had done. (the other two were for a friend and our lawyer who helped us successfully get to the day.)

  • Nicole

    I recently got married this past June and went through this decision as well. In the end I had my Uncle (mom’s side, her brother) walk me down the aisle.

    I have a very strained relationship with my mom (up until 2 weeks before the wedding I was not even sure she would be attending), and I have no relationship at all with my father (he did not attend), but I do have a strong relationship with her brother, so he felt like a logical choice. I thought about the being “given away” idea, and did consider walking by myself, but I also considered that it would be such a great experience for him (when I brought up the idea he was next to tears and was so honored that I would even ask). I came around to the idea of it because I didn’t feel in any way that I was being treated as “property”, and it was something that made him so happy (he was beaming the whole time). Plus, I would have been so much more nervous walking alone now that I look back on that day!

    With all of the stresses that I had leading up to the wedding with my mother, my Uncle was one of the most (next to my husband) supportive people. Having him walk me, and be such a big player in our wedding (14 guests, backyard ceremony and dinner) meant a lot to him – and realizing it meant so much to him meant a LOT to my husband and I.

  • Amber P

    I too am blessed with 4 parents. I had my mom and dad walk me down the aisle. It felt like the right thing to do since they both raised me in different houses and I have different relationships with both of them. I didn’t do anything in particular to honor my step mom and step dad during the ceremony, and I think that was ok. I feel like my mom was also representing my step dad and same with my dad and step mom. I didn’t feel like my parents were giving me away, but rather supporting me in the journey into marriage. I know some ceremonies will include questions of consent for parents/fathers about giving their daughters away, and we conveniently left that part out of our ceremony. Having them walk me down the aisle felt like their way of blessing the beginning of my marriage.

    As a completely different idea, I went to a wedding last weekend for a family friend and she was very clear that she did not want her dad to walk her down the aisle. So, she had 2 women (I think it was her sister and a close friend, but I don’t remember). They walked her part way, and then they played the Pink Panther theme and the groom walked back up the aisle to meet her and they walked to the alter together. It was totally sweet, and totally worked for them!

    I think when it comes down to it, there’s no one way to be walked down the aisle. And, I’d say, do what feels true to you. That’s what your whole wedding day should be about. Doing what feels true to you. Good luck!

  • amanda noel

    My husband walked down the aisle with me and it’s one of my favorite decisions we stuck with about the wedding. it WAS hard to stick with because my parents were very disappointed at the time, but now all they remember is how HAPPY we looked coming down the aisle TOGETHER.

  • Eenie

    I think this is such a great problem to have. Too many people who love you :)
    I think the best way to approach the issue is to have each child talk with the respective parental figures. Say something along the lines of: I love you and want to honor you on my wedding day. What traditional and non traditional ways would make you feel honored? Then maybe have three or four ideas and get their feedback. Tell them nothing is final until all parental figures have been talked to. I think they would all clearly understand your intentions then. You have more information to craft a creative way to honor everyone in the best way possible. Then like wih your dad, if you don’t end up doing their favorite option, explain why. Like Liz said, you want to honor them, but you don’t want to feel uncomfortable.

  • http://www.marbleryephotography.com Melissa

    I haven’t read through the comments so forgive me if someone has already suggested this, but my best friend and his new wife had an incredible solution to this.

    His parents walked him down the aisle (this is a Jewish tradition) and up a few stairs to where the rabbi was standing. Her (divorced) parents walked with her about 7/8 down the aisle. My best friend then walked back down the stairs, joined her at the head of the aisle, they circled each other as is tradition and then walked up the stairs to the rabbi together. Just thinking about it and all of the ways it honored their values as a couple is making me cry right now.

  • http://www.revolutionwed.com Staci

    I had both my mom and dad walk with me but only did a special dance with my dad (I gave mom a shout-out during the toasts).

  • Jen

    I took issue with many of the wedding traditions for feminist reasons. However, the walk down the aisle, at least for me, was something that I could view as not being “given away.” I have a great relationship with my Dad, and for me, I saw it as my Dad supporting me on this important day, just as he has on every other day of my life. It was a way for him to say, “I support your marriage” and for me, I felt empowered knowing that he was there for me. We also did not do the “who gives this . . .” Instead, the officiant asked all parents if they support the marriage and then asked the other guests if they support it as well (a community blessing). I guess I found with wedding planning that there are a lot of beautiful traditions that have really patriarchal roots. In some instances, rather than foregoing or completely changing, it worked for me to associate a different meaning with the tradition. If other people don’t get your new meaning, so be it. The meanings you and your partner attribute to your wedding day are yours alone. Good luck!

  • Rachael

    Holy smoke. This kept me up nights before my wedding. Our ceremony was pretty damn feminist- no giving away, but a family blessing, no “marriage is for children” anywhere, “husband and wife” instead of “man and wife” (and references to “two people” instead of “man and woman”), “you may celebrate your marriage with a kiss,” instead of “you may kiss the bride.”

    The one thing I didn’t do that I majorly regret is walk by myself. My father and I do not have a good relationship, and since the wedding we have spoken two or three times (in almost four years). At first I said I wanted both of my parents, but my mother said no. My husband’s parents were in the middle of a divorce and it was a miracle both of them showed up at all (since they had both threatened to boycott if the other was invited) so there went any dreams of having us both escorted.

    Anyone who actually knows me knows that my father only showed up to keep up appearances, so it doesn’t really matter in the end, I suppose. The number one thing I would recommend is to decide who you would be doing it for. If your relationship with your dad is more important to you than bucking a tradition, then get escorted and tell each other jokes in the back of the line- and you assign it meaning for yourself, not anybody else.

    I made a choice for someone else and it didn’t work out. Did it ruin the day? No. I still have a kick-ass husband.

  • https://plus.google.com/108942708163527046396/posts Laura

    This was our procession, and we lived to tell the tale:

    Siblings went first
    My partner’s brother and his girlfriend (because marriage isn’t the only thing that makes you a serious couple and part of the family)
    My partner’s sister and my sister

    Then parents
    My parents
    My partner’s father and stepmother
    My partner’s mother and stepfather

    Then us
    We walked each other down the aisle. We had been together for five years and lived together for much of that time. We wanted our families to be part of the procession, but we were already an independent unit within that family. There was no groom waiting for bride up at the front, or adoration of the bride over the groom.

    • Caroline

      We are walking together down the aisle too! We have been together nine years and lived together for more than 5. I actually am very close to my dad, but the tradition of having him walk me just didn’t feel

      sincere for us. I couldn’t imagine walking with anyone other than my FI, and I loved the symbolism of us approaching the altar as a couple. My dad doesn’t care — he just wants me to be happy. But as others have said, everyone ELSE has strong opinions on this. We have really had to stick to our guns, as everyone acts like it’s the end of the world if you do something different, like you deeply offending them somehow. I haven’t even told my mom the plan yet because I know she will be the most upset, and she isn’t even involved!

  • http://theaftercath.blogspot.com Cathi

    I also hated the “groom waiting at the front of the church” thing, and also had multiple parents whom I wanted to honor. All our parents are divorced, which actually made things easier for us re: walking and honoring family.

    My dad walked my stepmom down the aisle and then doubled back. His dad escorted his siblings. My sister was MOH so she had her own walking duties. His mom walked him down the aisle and gave him a great hug and handed him off to the pastor (after he also hugged his dad). I walked with both my parents, stopped to hug his parents and my step mom, and all the walking ended with my parents going up to hug Husband.

    There was a lot of walking and a lot of hugging, but it all felt great and inclusive and egalitarian. We also only played a single song during the entire procession to help with the “we’re all on equal footing here” idea.

  • Stephanie

    I had a very similar situation. What we ultimately decided was that all 3 sets of parents (my husband’s and my 2 sets) would walk down the aisle, two by two, as part of the procession, and take their seats just before my husband and I entered and walked down as a couple. It was a nice way of honoring them, and in some ways it set the tone for us to enter “non-traditionally” as a couple…3 examples of marriage walked down before us. We also did not have a traditional bridal party procession so we were the only ones who walked the aisle.

    Note: we were not in a church but still had a traditional aisle set-up outdoors.

  • Rachelle

    I wanted my dad to walk me down the aisle because I love the tradition of it and I knew it was important to him, but I made it very clear to him and to my fiance that I was not cool with being given away. My dad walked me down, gave me a kiss and shook my now husband’s hand and then sat down next to my mom.

    I also considered using Joanna Goddard’s wording when the officant asked who gave her: “She comes of her own accord, with the full support of her mother and me.”

    I think it’s just about figuring out what honors his wishes while making you feel comfortable.

    • Laura C

      I love that wording! Putting in my ceremony files…

  • Bethany

    I knew immediately that I didn’t want my dad to walk me down – my dad and I aren’t close, and my parents are divorced and remarried. I didn’t want anyone to feel left out, so here was our lineup:
    -his parents
    -my dad and stepmom
    -my mom and stepdad
    -bridal party
    -groom (he wanted his moment too!)
    -flower girls
    -bride

    I was torn between wanting my husband to see me walk down the aisle, and wanting to walk down together to symbolize our very egalitarian relationship. Our officiant came up with the idea that I would walk halfway down, stop, and my husband would walk back and get me, then we’d walk the rest of the way together. (It wasn’t as complicated as I feel like it sounds, plus it was a really short aisle!)

  • Sarah

    As a feminist I put up a big stink about my fiance’s request that only my Dad walk me down the aisle. My Mom is just as important. Why shouldn’t she be there? We were able to compromise thusly. As luck would have it, we both have only one opposite sex sibling and we weren’t having a bridal party. So both our families walked down the aisle in this order: him+his mom, his dad+his sister, my brother + my mom, and finally me and my dad.

    I have to say though, on the day of, I saw just how important it was to BOTH my parents that my Dad walked me down the aisle, although originally he said he would do whatever I wanted. At that moment I wasn’t thinking about equality or feminism or anything of the sort. I was just having a moment with my father, one that I will cherish forever. My Dad wasn’t thinking about passing me off to my husband either. He was just thinking about love. Something to consider.

    • Laura C

      But would that moment have been as great for you and as purely about your loving relationship if you felt like your mom had been excluded?

      • Sarah

        True. It was my Mom who changed my mind about it, actually. She made a comment that I should be lucky I have a father who could walk me down the aisle. She had a strained relationship with her father and he passed away before she got married so in her eyes I should be grateful I have a good relationship with my father and he is still with us. Certainly if my Mom had expressed that she wanted to be by my side, she would have been there.

  • Emily

    I was uncomfortable with the notion of being given away. I was 34 when I got married, financially independent and a property owner. I rejected the ‘who gives this woman’ part of the church ceremony. As for isle walking, I wasn’t overly keen on just my Dad walking me down, because of the giving away symbolism. However he expressed his desire to ‘escort me’ down the isle, and I thought that was a nice way of putting it. He escorted me (one could say I escorted him to his seat at the front), I kissed my parents, and walked the last steps on my own. I think it worked well to take the words ‘ giving away’ out of my mind.

    • MMM

      I read this somewhere else (ie, walking with your dad and giving all parents a kiss when you reach the front) and I think this is a lovely, simple idea. Asking them to all do a reading or make a speech during the reception (perhaps with just one person speaking while the other three stand with them to avoid death by speeches!). I have been to several weddings where the only speeches were made by the groom, best man and bride’s father. Short and sweet is one thing, but to me it gave the impression that none of the women’s voices (be it the bride, brides maid etc) were important. I’m sure this was unintentional but nevertheless…

      Slightly off topic, but I would also be interested to know how to handle the other issue mentioned here of having one partner who isn’t close to their family. We are in a similar situation and I doubt my FH’s parents will be invited to our wedding. Although I love the idea that weddings can also be a time to honour your families, unless you have a small wedding or elope (not my ideal senario), they can also be quite public events. I hate the thought of my very private FH feeling that he has to share this personal matter with others, and would love to know how to deal with this without making him feel overly self-conscious.

  • Ann

    I wanted to walk down the aisle by myself, but when I mentioned that to my mom, she freaked out about my dad being upset. After considering that I decided to have both of my parents walk me down the aisle– to which my dad basically shrugged and my mom freaked out again (she apparently wanted it to be my dad and only my dad). I thought it was all settled… until the rehearsal, when my mom apparently hadn’t fully grasped that both of them walking me down the aisle was what we’d ended on. It was a little ridiculous. In the end, they both did, and I was happy with that decision- I was also SUPER anxious and not feeling great leading up to the wedding, so I was happy to not be walking alone.

    We skipped the whole giving away thing. My husband decided he wanted to enter from the side before the processional, so he was already there– when my parents and I got to the front, I hugged them each and they went to sit down. Then our officiant began. I was really happy with how that part went, despite the bumps in communication.

  • SamiSidewinder

    I can’t say that all of this will work for you, as we had slightly different situations, but this bugged the hell out of me too. Here is how I solved it:

    We had a ceremony in the round (outdoors). There were three aisles, one for him to enter from, one for me to enter from and one for us to leave together from. We had both our parents walk us to the edge of the circle, kiss us and walk up the aisle together while we followed our respective parents and met each other in the middle. So they didn’t walk us up the aisle and give me to him and him to me, but they did send us off with love towards our beloved.

    I thought it was a great compromise that I could get behind. I didn’t find a way to honor my step-father though. That was a missing piece for sure. But the reading idea is always a good one.

  • Aubry

    This is such a strange thing that people get hung up on. And not the people it actually affects (like the bride/her father), but random “people.” My dad is not in the picture, and I thought I would just walk myself, or maybe have C meet me half way – easy. But, my mom kept asking if I wanted her to walk me down. I said no and she seemed fine, but then kept bringing it up. I thought she might secretly care, so I asked her as much and she said she didn’t really, but apparently my mom has been asked over and over if she will be walking me down the aisle.By all the family, plus friends etc. They all assume she will walk me. My dad not being around is well known. I also have had a few uncles/cousins etc ask if I wanted any of them to fill the role. but I walked in life this far without a dad and I don’t need one now.

    I also wanted my mom to just be my mom, you know. Instead of always having to be two parents. I appreciate all her work (I give her fathers day cards) but I want her to have a day off maybe?

    Thank God I have only had one person ask me if my father would be invited to the wedding. A close friends who should know better, and I told her so.

    In any case, if it is really important to my mom I will probably just let her walk me. But I hope I can go by myself, or have C meet me.

  • Janna

    I struggled with this too. I didn’t like the idea of a man giving me away to another man, but I’m also close with my dad and not my mom, so I wanted to have that special moment with him. I will admit that I took advantage of the fact that my family is very traditional and had my dad walk me in. However, my husband’s parents walked him in and we had them all stand up and say they and our families were giving us to each other. I liked the symbolism of that, two families giving their blessing for us to form a new family.

  • ladylabrat

    I’m having a lot of trouble over this one. As a pretty staunch feminist, I have a LOT of issues with wedding traditions. It was only after really realizing that I can throw out or change anything I don’t like that I even began to consider the possibility of a wedding.
    My partner and I have what I think is a very equitable partnership. Although we’re very different (talents and shortcomings included), our differences complement each other and balance out nicely. He’s a self-defined feminist as well (one of the things I love about him). However, when it comes to wedding planning, it has come out (somewhat surprisingly) that he is much more traditional than I am. We’ve been able to deal with this pretty well with lots of compromises. However, there are a few sticking points we have, and the walking down the aisle issue is one.
    He really wants what he describes as “a moment” where he gets to wait and watch me walk down the aisle to him “feeling as beautiful as [he] sees me” to the music he has selected (and which remains secret, although I think I know what it is). Now, I think this is very sweet, but I’m not going to be feeling all “I look so pretty!” and more “I hate all of these people staring at me and why oh why are they standing.” In my perfect world, we would walk down the aisle together (although I have a wonderful relationship with both parents). However, the solution I’ve proposed is that our wedding party processes, following by my partner and his parents, stopping at the end of the “aisle” (we won’t have a traditional setup), follows by me and my parents, then having the two of us walk down the rest of the aisle together. I think this both gives him “his moment” as well as being more equitable. He still has a problem with it, though…. He claims that not everything has to be a feminist statement, nor does everything have the meaning that I claim. But weddings are FILLED with statements about gender roles. I don’t know. This ceremony and its symbolism are very important to me because I value our partnership so much. We do have the option of us both walking down the entire aisle with our parents (with him going first and waiting for me with the officiant), and that’s fine, but I still feel like it’s too much focus on me and all “bride coming to her groom”. Am I being too sensitive about this? How do you strike the balance between honoring your feminist principles and respecting your partners wishes, as it’s his (or her!) day too?

  • vanezzza

    We had my grandparents walk down and sit in reserved seats at the front row, followed by our siblings who stood on either side of the chuppah. Then my fiance walked with his parents, followed by me with mine.

    It’s conveiniently a Jewish tradition to include both parents in the walk down the aisle, and at either side of the chuppah. My parents were in the middle of a divorce at the time, though either way – it felt awkward to honor one more than the other, not to mention the patriachial implications of being “given away”.

    I think our aisle walk could provide some hints to a possible solution to your quandry, perhaps each of your sets of parents could walk down the aisle first, followed by you and your husband. Maybe they could have an honored seat at the front of the crowd, or a place of honor alongside you both throughout the ceremony? There are so many options, really! Plenty of ways to make everyone important feel included.

  • Katie E

    This one was really tricky for me, not really out of feminist principles as such but more because during my engagement my relationship with my dad went from very close to… not. He couldn’t, and still can’t really support me in my choice of partner and is deeply suspicious of him. Over the same time, my partner and I moved in together, saved together and learnt how to make decisions together. I would have loved to honour my dad (and our relationship up to this point) in some way, but in the end it just wasn’t going to happen, and was more wishful thinking on my part. In the end, the most support my dad was able to give me was to be present at the wedding and to give me a hug before I walked down the aisle with my husband to be. It felt completely right that I walked in with him, and ultimately it was a symbol that we would move towards marrage like everything else, together.

  • Riah

    My dad and I are very close, and there was absolutely no way I was walking down the aisle with anyone else, because that was what was right for me emotionally, but we still did things slightly differently. My husband had hi two brothers as his attendants, and his parents are both divorced and remarried, so we started with one brother walking down the aisle with his step mom, then the other brother walking down the aisle with my mom, then my husband walking down the aisle with his mom. Then the music started and we did the rest like a traditional procession, with my two bridesmaids by themselves and then me and my dad together. Then me and my dad had a little =, slightly silly moment, and he went to his seat. Then our officiant asked who brings “these two young people” here (and said something nice and eloquent to go along with it, something about how they had guided us in our lives up until now and we had found each other. I forget the exact details, but the fact that it was “two young people” and not just me stands out clearly) and all six of our parents responded with “we do.” This was fitting for us. If you wanted to take the idea a step further away from a traditional processional/be even more gender-balanced in terms of honoring people, you could have the bridesmaids walk down the aisle with the fathers as well.

  • emily

    just giving a big shout out to those who walked the aisle alone – I did it, was a little nervous and was so happy I did it. If you’re on the fence about a solo walk, rock it out! We did it this way because, 1) i’m not into the “giving away” of a woman from man to man, 2) my parents are divorced and remarried and I didn’t want all four of them walking me down the aisle, 3) I don’t have a great relationship with my dad and 4) I liked the symoblism of my husband and I coming in separately and leaving together – it felt very much like my decision to walk on into this marriage on my own as an independent woman. hooray! (and I didn’t trip!)

    • Sharon M.

      Yay on the not tripping! I was SO conscious of where my feet were in relation to my dress. Kick-swish-Kick-swish :)

  • Kate

    I, also, struggled with the idea of being “given away”. We are grown people and were willingly entering into marriage as independent, sentient beings. Also, we had no wedding party and a very unbalanced family numbers-wise (my gigantic Italian family and a bunch of friends on my side, and his single mom on his). We also saw the potential for family drama if my dad got a special role and others did not. So, we had a parade.

    We gave everyone ribbon wands and our officiant gathered them together outside the bridal suite where we were getting ready. The minister led the group, followed by us, followed by our parents and my grandmother, followed by my sister and cousins who were playing instruments. All of our guests walked behind. We walked ourselves down the aisle, then all of our parents participated in a blessing led by the officiant. We kissed our parents and they sat down.

    We included a part in the ceremony explaining that each guest had helped us to grow as individuals and together, and so we had asked them to collectively walk us down the aisle. There was nothing like looking over our shoulders and seeing everyone we knew supporting us as we walked into this new stage of life together. Also, there was no drama and I did not feel like one second that I was betraying any of my feministy values.

  • http://www.nerds-in-love.net Stephanie

    In my wedding we had the grandparents walk down the aisle (my sister escorted my maternal grandfather since my maternal grandmother passed years ago) as part of the processional. You could perhaps incorporate your step parents this way, if you had your parents walk you down the aisle, Jew-style. They could walk alone, paired together (if they like each other enough), or with a sibling/cousin/wedding party member as an escort.
    Alternately, if you could swing walking alone or with your fiance, you could have your dad and stepmom, mom and stepdad walk down the aisle together as part of the processional then take their seats. Same thing with your husband’s parents, if he doesn’t walk down the aisle with them.

    You should also talk to your fiance about this before you get hooked on any one idea. My fiance felt very strongly that he wanted to watch me walk down the aisle and so didn’t want us to walk together and didn’t want me to start walking until he got up there. (We did the Jewish processional with our parents walking us down the aisle, so he walked escorted as well). My original thought, to expedite the processional and keep people from standing for the bride which I just hate, was to start walking when he was half way down. But that was a no go.

  • Kay

    I really love this wedding’s “giving away” ..

    http://joannagoddard.blogspot.com/2009/10/wedding-ceremony-part-one.html

    In response to “who gives this woman…” her father said “She comes of her own accord, with the full support of her mother and me.” I like that it’s a feminist alternative but still allows your father to be there for you. I know mine would be devastated if he couldn’t walk me.

  • Katie

    I have very similar questions to yours BUT recently witnessed a wedding of a friend that had beautiful options for us to explore.

    The bride (a dear friend) had lost her father years before her wedding. She loves her stepdad but for feminist reasons walked alone. She incorporated everyone in beautiful ways. There was a moment in the ceremony for her Step Dad to welcome her fiancee to the family and in turn hubby’s mother welcomed her. The parents got to choose from their own traditions for the welcome. Then later there was a unity candle where everyone in the front row (the closest family members of both sides) lit candles on down the row. The parents were the last to light their candles and then the bride and groom lit theirs from their parents. They then lit the unity candle. This happened as the officiant read something about building family.

    Finally, everyone got to give a speech during the reception. The speeches were poignant and funny and not one guest got through listening to them without crying and having a hug belly laugh.

    I’ve also imagined having my parents walk me part way down the aisle, then I escort them to their seats, kiss them and walk the rest of the way myself. They were part of my journey after all! It’s nice to honor that, as well as the independence I have long had from them and the adult choice I now make.

    • Sharon M.

      “There was a moment in the ceremony for her Step Dad to welcome her fiancee to the family and in turn hubby’s mother welcomed her.”

      Ooh, I like that – can I have a re-do?

  • MEM

    Original poster here!

    Thank you all so much for your support and ideas! Here’s what we’ve ended up doing: One stepmom is lighting the chalice at the beginning of the ceremony and another is doing a reading. they both seem pretty happy with that set-up. My parents are walking me down the aisle because I decided to honor how important it is to my dad. However, instead of them walking me all the way to the end and then “giving me away”, we’re going to stop at their seats for the hugs and kisses. after they sit down, I’m going to walk the rest of the way by myself. That way i still feel like an independent adult as i join the groom. Again, thank you all so much- this community amazes me every day.

  • Sharon M.

    I walked in solo, and met my mom at the end of the aisle where she ‘gave me away’ and I had a dance with my brother at the reception.