Wedding Traditions: Giving the Bride Away

The tradition of the father giving away the bride comes from a time of arranged marriages. In some cultures, the father was considered the “owner” of the daughter and he was actually transferring ownership of the women to the groom.

Christians on the other hand often view this tradition as fulfilling the verse in Genesis 2:24 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Jesus repeated these words in Mathew 19:5. In this light, the giving away of the daughter in marriage is symbolic of the father’s and mother’s blessing and support of the marriage and their daughter’s choice of a husband as well as their continued support for her and her husband.

A typical question asked by the clergy: “Who gives this women to be married to this man?” To which the response may be, “Her mother and I with hearts full of love, bless this marriage. We ask that you care for her and love her unconditionally as we have.”

An alternative version of this tradition might be for the clergy to ask: “Who presents this woman to be married to this man?” This question avoids the outdated version of the ownership issue and still allows the same loving response from the parent or parents.

At times this question becomes a logistical issue. For a second marriage, or when a bride has been raised by a step-dad or whose father has passed away, the person who walks the bride down the isle can be a bit of a puzzle. There is no set-in-stone answer for the multitude of situations the bride may be in. What is important is that the bride is comfortable with the tradition.

Some brides choose to walk down the isle alone to meet their future husband without an escort. A possible statement may then be for the clergy man to ask the entire group: “bride’s name” and “grooms name” will need your love and support during their marriage, not only today, their wedding day. To offer your support and blessing, please respond, “I do” to the following question: Who offers support and blessing to this couple?

Whatever the circumstances and your own personal views, remember it is your day and you can create your own tradition. And no matter what you decide to do on the “give away” issue, we at Woodrow Hall would love to give you a memorable wedding day!

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