Given Away, Given Away, Given Away Now

Weddings are full of crazy traditions. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of aspects of weddings that now seem antiquated and downright illogical that I somehow still allow myself to subscribe to (see: veils, the white dress, and bridal parties). But today I’d like to talk about a more controversial topic: “giving away” the bride.

Western weddings traditionally feature the father walking the bride down the aisle, followed by the following exchange:
Officiant: “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”

Father: “I do.”

Now, we have fortunately progressed beyond the literal transfer of the woman from man to man in exchange for a dowry. We have subscribed to a more progressive alternative response of, “Her mother and I do.” We even accept brothers, close friends, or mentors to walk her down the aisle if the father is no longer alive, is absent from her life, or if he didn’t fill the role of the most important man in her life. While this default remains the norm, women are increasingly choosing alternative escorts or even forgoing an escort altogether and they take one of the most significant walks of their lives.

Marriage today doesn’t necessarily mean a departure from your family of birth. You can remain a part of your birth family while creating a new family with your partner on your wedding day. You don’t have to have the patriarch of your family send you off into your new life. You can present yourself as an independent unit.

My personal belief is that every woman deserves the respect of not being treated as property, either in symbol or in practice.  There are many alternatives to the practice of being “given away” that symbolize the significance of your birth family and the new baby family you are creating without implying that you are being given to one man by another.

Of course, it is 100% your decision whether your father, mother, second cousin, best friend, third grade teacher, or no one at all gives you away at your wedding. You might decide to follow tradition because it gives you a sentimental link to weddings past, or you might decide that you want to want to meet your future husband at the aisle simultaneously as two independent units joining together as one. It’s your call.

I urge your to reflect on yourself, your partner, and your partnership to decide how you want to come together in a way that is meaningful and affirming for both of you.

Now, we have fortunately progressed beyond the literal transfer of the woman from man to man in exchange for a dowry. We have subscribed to a more progressive alternative response of, “Her mother and I do.” We even accept brothers, close friends, or mentors to walk her down the aisle if the father is no longer alive, is absent from her life, or if he didn’t fill the role of the most important man in her life. While this default remains the norm, women are increasingly choosing alternative escorts or even forgoing an escort altogether and they take one of the most significant walks of their lives.

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