How Do I Tell My Dad That I Don’t Want Him to Give Me Away?

I’m giving myself in marriage

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Q:I don’t know what to do about my dad giving me away. Don’t get me wrong—I love wedding traditions, I really do. My wedding will include communion, the white dress, the walk down the aisle—the whole shebang. But there are some traditions I just don’t love. Overall my family has been very supportive of my “nontraditional” decisions, like skipping the garter and bouquet tosses, for example. But there’s one tradition I know they will struggle with—my dad giving me away.

I am happy to have my dad walk me down the aisle, but it’s the actual giving away moment that I don’t like. The officiant saying, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” with my father’s reply, “I do,” or, “Her mother and I do,” makes me uncomfortable. I am not something to be given away. My fiancé isn’t getting a dowry for me. I’m not just being handed off from one man to the next. I am my own person! I make my own decisions! I pay my own bills!

That being said, my parents’ approval is important to me. I would never run off and marry someone they hated, and my fiancé even asked permission to propose (which they happily granted). But I just am not comfortable with the “giving away” exchange. I know they care about these kinds of things (having their names on the invites was extremely important, and caused a little drama when the first draft unintentionally left the names off).

I don’t want them to feel disrespected, but I just can’t in good conscious be “given away” to my fiancé when getting married is a choice we made together. So how do I tell my parents I want to skip it without offending them? And what do I do if they get upset?

Answer from the editor:

Let your parents know where you stand on this issue, and let them know sooner than later. But first, figure out what it is that you really want (and what you’d be able to live with as a compromise). If it’s only the wording that bothers you, you could work with them to modify, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” to something that better aligns with your values, or have no words said at all. Often in modern ceremonies, the aisle walk just concludes with a hug or kiss from one or both parents. If you don’t want to be walked down the aisle by your dad, that’s fine too. Would you be fine with both of your parents walking with you? Try to figure out what you could live with, and then open the discussion.

And for better or for worse, welcome to married life and adulthood. From here on out, you’ll be making decisions that your parents might not agree with, and having to navigate that as one adult to another. Consider this good practice.

Who walked you down the aisle? If your dad didn’t walk you down the aisle, was that a conversation you had to have? How did it go? Any tips?

If you want the APW community’s two cents, send it to QUESTIONS AT APRACTICALWEDDING DOT COM, and we’ll do our best to crowd source you some answers!

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