How Weddings Work: Giving Away The Bride

A bride being escorted down the aisle by a loved one is a quintessential part of the “storybook wedding” many people dream about. But, in this modern age, many brides are conflicted about being “given away” at their wedding. Women are no longer seen as property, to be given by a father to a husband. However, this ritual, with a few twists, can be a sweet and memorable part of your wedding ceremony.

Many brides choose to walk down the aisle with a father, both parents, a mentor, or even their children. Especially for the nervous bride wearing high heels, having an arm to hold on to is a blessing. Your “escort” is a person of honor, someone you want to highlight to your guests. More eyes will be watching you, and this special person, than at any other time – perhaps in your entire life. Showing gratitude and respect to someone by asking them to walk you down the aisle is one of the greatest gifts a bride can give.

But what about the officiant? “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” There’s that tricky “gives” again. The fix is surprisingly simple: “Who presents this woman to be married?” Again, you’re honoring your escort by letting him, her, or them, respond. In fact, in several weddings I’ve officiated, though only the father walked the bride down the aisle, the entirety of the bride’s family responded, “We do.” You could even have both families present both parties, to feel the support from all sides.

As a bit of choreography, the father/escort, after responding “I do” to the question you’ve chosen, will give a little kiss to the bride, then shake the groom’s hand. Some brides want their veil lifted by her escort, while others choose to keep the veil down until The Kiss. As the escort is sitting down, the officiant asks all the guests, who have risen to “welcome the bride,” to be seated. And then the wedding ceremony can begin in earnest.

Up next…The Welcome.

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