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why does the father walk the bride down the aisle

Everybody knows what the Mother of the Brides job is at a wedding, more or less, but how many people know or understand the role of the Father of the Bride (FoB)? Some dads think its their job to write checks and show up dressed as instructed in the right place at the right time. Some fathers get more involved in the planning and help make the event happen, especially in the case of DIY weddings. But thats not the traditional role of the FoB. And its very interesting to examine how the part that dad plays came into being by looking at the origins of the traditions. Why, in a day where both men and women are defined as equal, is it supposed to be the father who walks his daughter down the aisle and is the one to give her away? Why does the priest often ask Who gives this woman to be married? Where did this possession of the daughter come from? Tradition often plays a huge role in the production of a wedding; however, many times we do not know where exactly these traditions originated. Looking back to the roots of the institution of marriage itself and the role a father once played in his daughters life, we can unveil (figuratively), the answers to these questions. Many women often talk about how they have dreamed for years about their fathers walking them down the aisle. Today, a father walking his daughter down the aisle is often a reflection of the relationship between the bride and her father, and also signifies the fathers support and blessing of the impending marriage.

However, this was not always the case. The tradition of a father walking his daughter down the aisle dates back to a time of arranged marriages. At this time, unwed daughters were considered property of their fathers. In this instance, a father would arrange a marriage for his daughter with a man who he deemed acceptable. This was done through an agreement and/or trade: a dowry. The father would accept some form of money, land, and/or social status, in exchange for his daughters hand in marriage. She was his property. He was, in effect, selling her. The tradition of being walked down the aisle has changed in recent years. Many brides choose to walk with both parents or another person who has supported them throughout their lives. A few go it alone. While arranged marriages are no longer the rule, the tradition has turned into one more representative of the significance of whomever is the special person walking the bride down the aisle. As a result, its created a more personalized experience with a whole new meaning. Its the brides choice. Another question I explored was why the Officiant asks Who gives this woman to be married to this man? The father of the bride is supposed to stand up and say that he does. This is what it means to give the bride away, dating back to the times when the daughter was seen as property of her fathers.

The Officiant would ask this question in order to validate that the father was, in fact, agreeing to the terms that he and the groom (or grooms family) had made, and therefore was in support of the marriage. The bride would then be exchanged from being her fathers property to being the grooms property. More recently, the popular response to the question Who gives this woman to be married to this man? is Her mother and I do. Interestingly, most of the time, its still the father who gives the verbal permission. Sometimes, both the father and the mother may stand up and say We do together. Some brides and grooms do not feel the formal permission is necessary or appropriate for their ceremony and leave it out. It can be interpreted as objectifying the bride an archaic tradition of the past that no longer represents what is really occurring. A marriage is an act of love rather than that of a business exchange. As womens roles have changed throughout society, so have many marital traditions. Many of us often do not question these practices. Yet when we truly delve into it, we get a better understanding as to what exactly we are participating in and how we can make it a more personalized and representative experience for ourselves.

Liz Cooney, Intern at Weddings in Vieques
When you take your fathers arm to walk down the aisle to marry your beloved, it is etiquette to be escorted on your fathers right arm. There is a simple reason for thisso your father does not have to step over your train, when he takes his seat. If the bride is escorted to the altar, where she stands to the right of her father, then her father can simply step back, and take his seat. Think of Princess Dianas wedding, and the Duchess of Cambridges wedding both were escorted down the aisle, on their fathers right arm. The trains on both their dresses were very long! This makes it quite easy for your father to take his seat, once he has given his precious daughter away. In America and in Dallas, I see many brides walk down the aisle on their fathers left arm, however, Ive also seen fathers stumble, when trying to step over the train. Every etiquette book Ive read says for the bride to take her fathers right arm, but for some reason, in America, we have gotten it wrong for many years! The Officiant or Minister at your church holds the final say, and if your train is long, you as the bride, will have to ask the Minister for permission to walk down the aisle (the correct way! ) on your fathers right arm. And a note for the ushersall women are escorted on the right arm of the man. Sue pc: , Dallas

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