A few weeks ago an email from a reader appeared in my inbox. The bride-to-be's message really struck a chord with me. While I couldn't offer any direct advice, I felt sure the Love My Dress community would be able to help. With her permission, I have copied her story below…
'I’m getting married in July 2014. It’ll be a small ceremony (there’ll be 35 of us, in total) and a big party of over 150 of our friends and family, in the evening – or that’s the plan!
My dad died when I was 8, and my mum has never been in a relationship since. I’m an only child.
Despite being incredibly close to my mum, I have always said (both before and after I got engaged!) that I wanted to walk down the aisle on my own, without anyone giving me away.'
'90% of our guests never got to know my dad. I feel if I have anyone else give me away, it will be all too easy for my dad to go unthought-of by the majority of our friends and family. He was a wonderful father and I have nothing but lovely memories of him.
I’d like to think that on my wedding day, for just a short while, in his absence from my side he’ll be in everyone’s thoughts and holding everyone’s attention, as he would be if he were actually there.'
'I’ve seen my mum be a mum and a dad (and do a fab’ job!) for the last 18 years and I think she deserves a day off. Rather than multi-tasking, she should be able to enjoy the role of 'Mother of the Bride' and all that it entails.
My mum is totally fine with my decision, as is my fiancé and the rest of my family. Despite this, with the date approaching and having been to seven weddings this year, I’m starting to get very nervous at the idea of walking down an aisle (albeit fairly small) on my own, without anyone to cling too and just my one (very lovely!) bridesmaid behind me.'
'I really want to stick to my original ‘dream’ and go it alone, but as someone who doesn’t really enjoy the limelight I’m already starting to get nervous at the idea. I don’t want to be a blubbering mess whilst walking to meet my husband-to-be, but nor do I want to be full of regret as I hold the arm of someone else who isn’t my Dad.
If I could just hear from a few other brides in a similar situation, I’m sure I’ll be filled with inspiration & confidence!'
The antiquated tradition of a father giving away his daughter on her wedding day has its roots in the days of arranged marriages. Women were considered their father's property until they were married, at which point ownership was transferred to their new husband. Although the way women are viewed has come a long way since then, the act of being given away is still weighted with significance and meaning. Many couples see it as an important opportunity to give thanks to their parents and honour tradition.
I've touched on my own experience of marriage and bereavement before. I still believe the uncertainty surrounding one's emotions and how they will play out on the day is the most daunting part of preparing for a wedding without a loved one.
Kate didn't want to follow tradition and be given away so walked down the aisle with her husband
to be James, after having had a first look (<– brilliant link, click me now!)
Photography by S6 Photography
In the run up to our own nuptials, I considered a few options for that all important entrance, but in the end clinging to the arm of my step-father seemed most appropriate. I told myself it was OK to cry and that it was OK to make other people cry too. I never felt the need to apologise for my grief. Like our reader, I wanted my father to be in everyone's thoughts that day and we've previously covered some of the ways you can include absent loved ones at your wedding.
Of course, the question of walking down the aisle alone is not necessarily limited to those of us whose fathers have passed on. Perhaps your dad didn't take an active role in your upbringing, or maybe it just doesn't feel right to have him at your side as you enter this chapter of your life. It's also possible that this is simply a tradition you're planning to overlook on your wedding day.
We'd love to hear from you this morning, especially if you have any words of reassurance for our bride-to-be. Are you facing a simliar dilemma? Did you head down the aisle alone and live to tell the tale?
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