Walking the bride down the aisle: Its origins and how it's changed

Walking the bride down the aisle: Its origins and how it’s changed

For centuries, it has been an enduring wedding tradition that a father walks his daughter down the aisle on her big day. As the first moment guests (and the bride’s partner) sees the bride, this is a pretty big deal.

While usually a sweet and sentimental moment, it comes from less than heartwarming origins. According to wedding historian Susan Waggoner, this tradition comes from the days when arranged marriage was a normal custom in society.

Speaking to Brides, she explains: “this custom stems from the days of arranged marriages when a father’s looming presence was a good way to prevent the groom from backing out.”

In many societies, a bride was considered a form of financial liability who could be transferred from her father’s household to her eventual husband’s home.

With marriage being more of an economic choice than a romantic one, some grooms got spooked at the thought of getting hitched. This is where dads came in. Fathers would act as a physical reminder (and threat) of the deal, making grooms more likely to go through with the wedding.

Over the years, as with virtually every other wedding tradition, the origins of this custom has become sanitised and romanticised. Today, its a special moment for brides to walk arm in arm with their father on such a special occasion.

As the times have changed, however, so has the tradition. Some brides don’t have fathers and have alternative family members walk them down the aisle. Some share strained relationships with their dads, and choose to not partake in this tradition at all. In the case of some same-sex couples, it might be a groom walking down the aisle instead of a bride.

The beauty of weddings nowadays is that couples have choices. Some traditions, while sentimental for some, are outdated or hurtful to others. There is no one way to get married. Traditions are not required, and rules don’t always have to be followed.

Picture: Pexels

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