Walking down the aisle: Tradition v Modern Day

Walking down the aisle

The opportunities for getting married in the 21st century have never been so abundant and choice so diverse.  The world has shrunk; traditional ‘local ‘ customs have now become global, and we, certainly here in the UK, are allowed to marry the partner of our choice, regardless of race, creed, sexuality or religion. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before people the world over have the same freedoms as we enjoy. Its seems that the world is certainly heading in this direction which makes total sense. Life is about love and more importantly, loving whomever you choose, without judgment and discrimination.

In today’s wedding world, there is no right or wrong way of getting married, having a wedding ceremony or celebrating your love for your significant other can be done in a completely personalised way.  We are so very lucky to be able to express our joy and happiness and love in a multifaceted and multicoloured rainbow of yumminess that I like to call a Celebrant led ceremony!

It really is your day, your way and providing you can dream it, there will be a Wedding Celebrant out there that can help you make it become a reality!

So starting with this , I want to take you on a very short journey through history as we debunk some of the traditional myths that surround wedding ceremonies, certainly in western culture.

Let’s begin by looking at one of our oldest traditions, where it came from and why we do it – the tradition of the bride being ‘walked down the aisle!’

I love the person I am about to marry, but what’s all this ‘GIVING AWAY MALARKEY?’

Stripping it right back to the bare bones…it’s a weird one isn’t?  The tradition of being walked up the aisle to your future spouse by a man, normally, your father and literally ‘handed over.’

Where does this tradition come from?

Well, this tradition dates back to the time of arranged marriages, and the time that a girl child was the property of her father. When a match was agreed between the elders, and when the groom and/or his family agreed to take on the ‘ownership’ of his new bride, they would also agree with her father the payment of a dowry. This would often be food, animals or financial compensation/reward. To ensure he was given his just rewards, the ‘proud’ father would escort his daughter to her new husband, take his goods in exchange and the deal was done, the contract complete.

Oh be still my beating heart!!!!  What girl wouldn’t want to be such chattel on her wedding day?

Is it more than just a tradition these days?

Luckily today, the ‘Giving away of the Bride’ by her proud father is a much more symbolic and sedate affair, and very much a reflection of the love that the two share for each other. Kisses, hugs and tears are the only things exchanged at the front of the aisle. It’s more than just ‘giving away’; it’s showing a deep respect and understanding of each other, and the chance to truly show gratitude and love.

Wedding Photography for Braxted Park 011

Is there a modern alternative?

Whilst most modern brides still choose to express their love for their father in this way, more and more women are embracing the right to give themselves to their intended in their own unique style and will make the walk up the aisle alone.

It is, as a Celebrant, quite a humbling experience watching two people come together under their own terms, a statement is certainly being made and I personally think of it as the terms of their continuing union being set out in full as an opening statement.

‘I choose you, I am coming to join you in our marriage of my own free will, under my own steam and as an equal partner in this relationship’.

I have been privileged to witness so many variations on this theme as a wedding Celebrant over recent years, all are fabulous, self-declaratory expressions of love and unity, from couples totally committed to one another and determined to have their ceremony their way.

Do you have any examples of personalising the aisle walk?

I have had Grooms dance up the aisle with their Groomsmen and Best Man, and boy could they throw some moves!

I’ve seen every emotion under the sun, as the Bride/Brides/Grooms have been escorted by other significant people in their life; their mum, children, siblings, pets and on one occasion even a whole family!  And I can tell you… the love in the room was electric.

Celebrant photography 38

Out with the old, in with the new?

This is definitely inconclusive and each way has its place. Traditions here are steeped in history, some good, and some bad, some just meh! Tradition evolves and changes over the years and today we have opportunities like never before to tear up the rulebook and make up our own traditions.

As the use of Celebrants is on the rise, so too is the way we choose to celebrate all the milestones in our lives. So let’s start at the very beginning and make your grand entrance, the very first and one of the most important statements of your married life, exactly how you want it to be. Make it personal and make it special. After all, you deserve it.


Amazing photography by Head Over Heels Photography

Photographer Credit: Alisa Roberts

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