I spend quite a bit of time talking to couples about how they choose to begin their ceremony and of course, traditionally, the bride comes in with her dad and that’s just fine, but there are other ways to do it. After all, when you think about it, the wedding is both the creation of a new family unit and the leaving of two others. So some grooms send their best man in ahead of them, and come in with both their parents, give them a kiss, see that they’re settled and then come and stand by me.
And some brides then do the same – and when you think about it, it’s really nice to acknowledge the mothers in this way because they have very little formal recognition in a traditional marriage ceremony.
Some couples choose to come in together; some like to be there with their guests from the very start; there’s no ‘right way’ these days.
Occasionally I get asked how the bride should be “given away”; that’s an interesting question in these days of equal rights and equal marriage, so it’s worth thinking about the message you’re trying to convey.
Until the middle of the 20th century across much of Europe, a wife was the property of her husband, but the custom of a father ‘giving away’ the bride dates back even further, to the days when marriages were arranged, and daughters were treated like assets, to be disposed of as advantageously as possible, usually along with a dowry to seal the deal.
We’re no longer in the Dark Ages, but the ‘giving away of the bride’ is a tradition that many brides want to honour, not least because their dads still see it as their role – even when a bride is marrying a bride.
A handshake, a hug or a kiss may be all you need, but you could ask your celebrant to formally ask your father (or indeed both your parents) if they approve of your life partner, and if they promise to support you in your marriage.
They can reply, “I do”, or “We do”, and that would be a good way not only to acknowledge a custom, but also to bring it up to date.