Another of the old traditions that has been passed down the years for weddings has been the giving away of the bride. This is usually done by the father of the bride, who first ushers his daughter down the aisle and then hands her over to her betrothed at the altar. It seems like a charming thing to do, that the father is giving his permission over to the Groom to take over the role of protector of her.
It all sounds nice and innocent in a way, but it is another one of the wedding traditions which didn’t have such innocent beginnings and for some today, still can raise some objections.
The tradition of giving away the bride stems back to the time when a daughter was literally the property of her father. Just think for a moment what this would have meant for the bride. With the daughter being ‘property’ she could have been used by the father to pay off a debt for example, or to usher her off on someone in order to climb up a social ladder. It wasn’t so much about the bride but about what value could be placed on her. She would essentially be handed offer for a dowry (or a bride price).
Being handed over a peace offering in monetary terms, didn’t exactly paint the bride as an independent woman. She was essentially a trade commodity and in getting married she just because the property of someone else. Fortunately nowadays this isn’t the reason for a father giving away his bride to her husband-to-be, it is just an opportunity to do that symbolic passing over into the care of the groom, not as someone less than, but as an equal to her partner.
So there can be a nice innocence to it, but not everyone is into the idea still. Independent women, or feminists for example, may reject the idea of being handed over from one man to another as being pretty sexist.
For those who have opposing views to the tradition and origins of the giving away of the bride, then there are alternatives. So here is a different route that has found its way into modern weddings in order to fit into societal acceptance. At the end of the aisle walk, instead of the father just giving away his daughter, there could be a blessing involved where he (or commonly both parents) voices a blessing on the union when the officiant asks “who presents this woman to be married to his man?” Such a response could be “She has her family’s blessing, but she gives herself away”.
So this alternative would iterate that this is the choice of the bride herself and that she neither needs permission or is the purity of anyone. There are many different types of parental response blessings that can be issued, such “Her family and I do” or “with love in our hearts we do”. It is also a great way for the parents to be honored in the ceremony.
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