When you’re planning a wedding, there’s about eighty-hundred decisions that need to be made.
One of them is the ol’ Dad Walking You Down The Aisle To Give You Away trick.
The historical significance of the father bringing the bride down the aisle to “give her away”, of course, is that he owns her.
Today, generally speaking, women aren’t owned by men, they are not the property of men to be traded off from father to husband, and most of us can walk our own-damn selves down our own-damn aisle.
Right on, bride-sister.
Except, weddings are a minefield of sexist/outdated stuff that happens under the auspices of tradition.*
Like how brides wear white to symbolise their worth as pristine virgins.
Good one. via GIPHY
Veils fall under the same virginal association. The ‘lifting of the veil’ by the husband symbolises the breaking of the hymen (a thin membrane he gets to remove….geddit?).
Oh, and you thought the wedding cake was for dessert’s sake? Sorry. Traditionally, it used to be bread, and it would be broken over the woman’s head to symbolise – once again – the breaking of the hymen.
It’s also “tradition” that women aren’t expected to speak at a wedding; the speeches are reserved for the fathers, the best man, and the groom. And don’t start me on the bouquet toss: the display where a married woman literally turns her back on all her single friends and throws them a bone as they eagerly grasp at the chance to be married next.
Here’s what you can do with that idea:
Like all traditions, though, a lot of us have plain ignored them off to make room for ones that suit us better and reflect what we believe a little more. And funny enough, recently I got to see one I hadn’t seen before:
My sister walked down the aisle by her own damn self:
A photo posted by P a u l a ???? (@pauwlahowe) on Aug 27, 2016 at 3:15pm PDT
Bewdiful. More modern than the mullet dress.
But my reaction was what surprised me most. Instead of me high-fiving her and slapping her on her gorgeous arse, I was surprised. “Why?” I said, clutching my pearls like an 80 year old CWA member.
And she just shrugged. Cool as a clam.
Right on, bridechilla.
We talked about it on Mamamia Out Loud this week and decided that some traditions exist for no good reason. Others remain for the emotional symbolism. Traditions change over time; the meaning correlated can shift. You take meaning where you see it, and for what it means for you at that time.
And sometimes you make a wedding decision you might later regret:
There’s no right or wrong way here, but ultimately it comes down to the question that underpins all weddings: who are you doing this for? Yourself? Or everyone else?
It’s hard. So much wedding planning gets trampled under expectations; both societal and familial. So it makes me happy to see wedding traditions broken, and others forged anew. A mother, both parents, siblings leading a bride down the aisle. Couples that walk down together. Weddings with no cakes and no bridesmaids, rings with no bling, where a picnic in the park trumps a dinner dance, where love is the theme.
Confessions: What was your biggest wedding regret? (post continues after audio)
Choose what makes you happy I say. Forget the rest. I walked down with my dad and it was ace. My sister walked alone, and that was grand too. To all the others who go their own way, a high five and an arse slap to you.
Yes, the historical roots of a father giving away the bride down the aisle are sexist. But choosing to include the ritual because it means something different to you doesn’t make it wrong.
*Like how a marriage can only be between a man and a woman. Puhlease.
The full ep of Mamamia Out Loud is below. It’s the weekly podcast with what women are talking about. Subscribe in itunes or listen here: