It took Meghan Markle just 60 seconds to change the brides trajectory forever.
Ms. Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, entered her wedding ceremony alone in 2018 and walked halfway down the aisle of St. George Chapel before joining Prince Charles. Then the prince stepped aside and the duchess ended her trip to see Prince Harry, whom she married.
“I was inspired by Meghan Markle,” said April Brown, a Miami marriage and family therapist who married in the English countryside in 2019. “I felt like walking alone was empowering and liberating, and neither was I thrilled with your father’s archaic ideas about betraying you.”
It was a slow but steady march in that direction.
Brides who were exchanged for a dowry by their fathers were once officially exchanged at the altar. And yet fathers led their daughters further down the aisle as an ode to tradition.
In 2013, 82 percent of people surveyed by YouGov, a UK market research and data analysis company, said the bride’s father should give away his daughter. three years later that number dropped to 61 percent. (No major surveys were conducted thereafter.)
When Lauren Nolan, an independent consultant in New York, walked down the aisle for her little pandemic wedding on the Long Island City coast in September at the Luminescence Art Installation in Hunters Point Park, she was doing it alone.
“I firmly believe that the longstanding tradition of the father or other prominent male figure leading a woman down the aisle is a tradition worth throwing,” said Ms. Nolan. “This tradition always felt open to me, deeply rooted in patriarchy and the idea that a woman must belong to a man.”
Instead, Ms. Nolan said that when she met her fiancé at the altar, she made a collective decision to combine their lives rather than partake in a male handover.
Marina Gershon, a 36-year-old puppeteer who married on a farm in Freeville, NY, in 2017, had similar feelings before they married. She was looking for a ceremony that truly represented her and her fiancé, so Lily Gershon of the LilyPad Puppet Theater and the bride’s sister was her giant puppet officer. They also allowed costume-optional guest attire and food was served from their farm. They also suppressed any traditions that they considered antiquated.
“A tradition based on father-daughter ownership for financial liability and other similar ideals seems as appropriate as giving my partner a musk ox as a dowry,” said Ms. Gershon. “The idea of ownership in general raises a lot of questions for us, and while saying things written on Valentine’s Day candy like ‘Be Mine’ is romantic, the idea of saying that to someone I love leaves a bad one taste in my mouth. “
Ms. Gershon’s friend Marietta Synodis led them down the aisle in memory of Ms. Synodis’ father, who died unexpectedly. “We thought it would be a way that Marietta could not only walk down the aisle with me, but also honor the memory of her father, as that would be his role at their wedding if she had one,” she said . “While I don’t follow conventional traditions, I respect other people who choose to ride these waves when it feels right to them.”
The trend of walking down the aisle comes at a time when couples are moving away from traditional wedding settings in all areas of the celebration, from the color of the dress to the increase in symbolic rites (compared to ecclesiastical or civil), Valentina Ring said , the founder of Stars Inside, a wedding planning company based in London. Couples gain more control and freedom over the structure and content of the ceremony itself, Ms. Ring said.
“Many brides love the idea of honoring their independence and strength by walking down the aisle alone or walking down the aisle with their fiancé, which symbolizes that the two are headed for their future on an equal footing,” said Ms. Ring.
So, Leigh Luerman, a software engineer in Louisville, strolled down the aisle side by side with her fiancé during their 2018 wedding at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Ky.
“Part of it was an aversion to the concept of being given away, but my then-fiancé and I also had a life together,” said Ms. Luerman. “We wanted to do this together.”
During her ceremony in Gloucester, Massachusetts, Gabi Toth didn’t even think about walking down the aisle without her fiancé. It was their wedding, they didn’t have strong opinions about popular traditions, and both parents seemed happy to be excluded from the ceremony, said Ms. Toth, a librarian.
A bonus for walking down the aisle with your fiancé? Really share this moment with the person you are going to marry, said Rocío Catalina Mora, a freelance musician in Vermont.
“Walking each other down the aisle was the most magical feeling in the world,” said Ms. Mora. “I still get chills down my spine when I think about it. It wasn’t a long way but the conversation was literally, “I love you, let’s do this.” Take a few steps. “Oh my god, they are all here for us,” said Ms. Mora.
And while many religions prescribe the wedding procession in which one or both parents lead the bride to her bridegroom, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) has a very different tradition.
In the Quaker tradition, the couple are mutual, said Sara Pearce, a 32-year-old clinical kinesiologist and owner of Aspire Sports Therapies in Greensboro, NC. Ms. Pearce, a Quaker, married in North Carolina in 2016 in the Quaker tradition.
“The bride is not a property that can be given away to her new spouse: walking down the aisle together is the traditional route and the idea of being given away seemed strange and fictional,” said Ms. Pearce. “We asked the pastor from my meeting with friends to lead the ministry, but he didn’t marry us – we got married.”
Still, many couples want to realize the importance of their families (and their fathers) during their wedding ceremonies – with or without aisle.
Rebecca Sloan, a 34-year-old small business owner in Ontario, was married out on a small blueberry farm in Ontario in 2018. To set the tone for their marriage and future on an equal footing, Ms. Sloan and her fiancé decided to go inside their ceremony and down the aisle together.
“Even so, we wanted to honor our families and friends and include them in the ceremony to show the important roles they play in our lives,” said Ms. Sloan.
They did this through a hand fast, a Celtic tradition in which the couple tie their hands with ribbons to symbolize the bond of two lives. They had four groups of family members and friends, and each helped tie a ribbon around their hands while reading the ribbon’s symbolism.
“That way, we were able to create a ceremony that truly reflected us as a couple and our values,” said Ms. Sloan.
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