Weddings, weddings, weddings, royal weddings! That’s the buzz of the week. In the MOCCA Mum world it’s an even bigger buzz because the bride to be is of mixed heritage. The significance of this (her heritage) will be the subject for another day but our current reflections are on the tradition of “being walked down the aisle by dad”. For many it’s a given – “dad will walk me down the aisle”, for those whose fathers are absent or are connected to an ongoing family controversy, it can be tricky.
Why is this role for the dad, by default, and not the mom, the best friend or the god mom? “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,” explains wedding historian Susan Waggoner. A bride was a “financial liability” who was essentially transferred from the household of her father to that of the groom.
That strapping, masculine, elderly image of dad walking towards the emotion-filled groom serves as a deterrent. Sounds rather intimidating and certainly not romantic, but tradition is tradition. Tradition is still in place today but we are seeing a gradual shift in gender roles. More mothers are walking their daughters up the aisle or giving their daughters away by choice and not by default. Serena Williams and Meghan Markle are two recent celebrity examples.
When the decision is by choice should it (a) be interpreted as an undermining of dad’s role or (b) does it weaken the symbolic pillars on which marriage has always stood? Neither a nor b. Rather it suggest that in 2018 if a bride decides to break away from tradition, by choice, the groom will not back out (for that reason). There will still be someone to hand her over to her to the groom, vows will still be read and somewhere during those very, very long speeches at the reception there will still be tears, cheers and maybe a yawn or two!
MOCCA Mums, what would do/say if your daughter asked you to walk her down the aisle (instead of their dad)?
Photo credit – Essence Magazine