It used to be that the bride’s father escorted her down the aisle during the wedding processional, and that was pretty much that. These days, however, many more options are available, and depending on family dynamics and personal preference, the old tradition might not be the best choice for every bride. This is a look at the whole range of wedding processional options for brides.
The traditional escort for a bride is her father. When the bride and her dad have a close relationship, it is probably a no-brainer that she will have him be the one to walk her down the aisle during the processional. It is certainly a beautiful moment in any wedding when the church doors open to reveal the bride, radiant in her wedding gown, veil, and bridal jewelry, there on the arm of her beaming father. However, if the bride does not have a good relationship with her dad, there is no need to force the family to fit in with an old custom; it would be better to break with tradition and pick a different escort. By the way, it is not customary for a second time bride to have her dad walk her down the aisle. Having already “given her away” once, he can’t really do so again.
When the bride’s father is absent either physically or emotionally, another male relative is a good choice for escort. If the bride was raised by her stepfather and they have a close relationship, then he would be the natural choice. (When the bride is equally close to dad and step-dad, usually biology wins out.) Another option is to have the bride’s grandfather or uncle by her side for the processional. The bride’s brother would be another natural choice, especially if the pair have always been close. It is fairly common in second weddings for the bride to be escorted by her son, however care should be taken to avoid the notion that he is “giving her away” to the groom, as presumably the child wants to keep his mom!
In Jewish weddings it is customary for the bride to be escorted by both her mother and father. Many Jewish wedding customs are less patriarchal, which gives them a more contemporary feeling, despite being ancient traditions. This would be a great choice for the wedding processional for any bride of any faith. The symbolism of being guided down the aisle by both parents towards the start of a new life is simply beautiful. When the bride is being led by both her parents, it is also very nice to have the groom’s parents walk out with him, rather than having him simply walk to the altar alone with the best man.
It is not necessary for anyone to walk with the bride during the ceremony processional. Something that is becoming more common in less traditional weddings is for the bride to walk down the aisle by herself. All eyes will be upon her as she makes her appearance in her beautiful bridal gown and jewelry, especially those of her waiting groom. The groom can wait at the altar, but a very nice idea is for him to meet the bride about halfway down the aisle. The two exchange a brief kiss and then proceed the rest of the way to the altar arm-in-arm. The symbolism of the couple walking together towards their new life is absolutely wonderful. This is a particularly great idea for a second time bride, who does not want to be given to a man, but rather wants to meet him and join in an equal partnership.
With so many options available, a bride can choose the escort which is most appropriate to her age, situation, and beliefs. The wedding processional is always an important part of the ceremony, and taking the time to pick the perfect person to walk down the aisle with the bride is well worth the effort.