Written by Danielle Braff
It took Meghan Markle just 60 seconds to forever alter the trajectory of brides.
Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, entered her solo wedding ceremony in 2018, walking halfway down the aisle of St George’s Chapel before joining Prince Charles. Then the prince stepped aside and the duchess completed her journey to Prince Harry, whom she married.
“I was inspired by Meghan Markle,” said April Brown, a marriage and family therapist in Miami, who married in 2019 in the English countryside. “I felt it was empowering and liberating to walk alone, and I wasn’t thrilled with archaic ideas of your father giving you away.”
It has been a slow but steady march towards this evolution.
Brides, exchanged by their parents for a dowry, were once formally exchanged at the altar. And yet parents have continued to lead their daughters down the aisle as an ode to tradition.
Up to now.
In 2013, 82% of people surveyed by YouGov, a British data analysis and market research firm, said that the father of the bride should give his daughter as a gift; three years later, that number dropped to 61%. (No major surveys have been done after this.)
When Lauren Nolan, an independent consultant in New York, walked down the aisle for her little pandemic-era wedding in September on the Long Island City boardwalk at the Luminescence Art Installation in Hunters Point Park, she did so alone.
“I firmly believe that the longstanding tradition of the father of one or another prominent male figure escorting a woman down the aisle is a tradition worth discarding,” said Nolan. “This tradition always struck me as downright disgusting, deeply rooted in patriarchy and the notion that a woman should belong to a man.”
Instead, Nolan said, when she met her fiancé at the altar, she was making a joint decision to combine their lives, rather than participate in a male-to-male transfer.
Marina Gershon, a 36-year-old puppeteer who married in 2017 on a farm in Freeville, New York, had similar feelings before her wedding. She was looking for a ceremony that would truly represent her and her fiancé, which is why Lily Gershon of the LilyPad Puppet Theater and the bride’s sister was her giant puppet officiator. They also allowed optional clothing for guests and food was served from their farm. They also crushed traditions that they considered outdated.
“A tradition that is based on the property of the father of the daughter for financial responsibility and other similar ideals seems as appropriate as giving my partner a musk ox as a dowry,” Gershon said. “The idea of ownership, in general, raises a lot of questions, and while it’s romantic to say things that are written on Valentine’s Day candy like ‘Be mine,’ the idea of saying that to someone that love leaves me a bad mouth taste “.
Gershon’s friend, Marietta Synodis, accompanied her down the hall in memory of Synodis’s father, who died unexpectedly. “We thought it was a way that Marietta could not only walk down the aisle with me, but also honor the memory of her father, as this would be her role in her wedding if she had one,” he said. “Although I don’t follow conventional traditions, I respect other people who choose to ride those waves if that’s what feels right to them.”
The trend of walking alone down the aisle comes at a time when couples are moving away from traditional wedding settings in all areas of the celebration, from dress color to the rise of symbolic rites (as opposed to church or civilians). said Valentina Ring, founder of The Stars Inside, a London-based wedding planning company. Couples are gaining more control and freedom over the structure and content of the ceremony itself, Ring said.
“Many brides love the idea of honoring their independence and strength by walking down the aisle on their own, or walking with their fiancé, symbolizing that the two of them are heading toward their future as equals,” Ring said.
That’s why Leigh Luerman, a software engineer in Louisville, Kentucky, walked down the aisle with her fiancé during their 2018 wedding at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky.
“In part it was disgust with the concept of being gifted, but also, my then fiancé and I already had a life together,” Luerman said. “We wanted to tackle this together.”
During her ceremony in Gloucester, Massachusetts, Gabi Toth didn’t even consider walking down the aisle without her fiancé. It was their wedding, they did not have strong opinions on popular traditions and both parents seemed happy to be left out of the ceremony, said Toth, a librarian.
An advantage of walking down the aisle with your fiancé? Truly sharing that moment with the person you’re getting married to, said Rocío Catalina Mora, an independent musician in Vermont.
“Getting to walk down the hall was the most magical feeling in the world,” Mora said. “I still get chills down my spine when I think about it. It wasn’t a long walk, but the conversation was literally, ‘I love you, let’s do this.’ Take a few steps, ‘My God, they’re all here for us,’ ”Mora said.
And while many religions dictate the wedding procession, which tends to involve one or both parents leading the bride to the groom, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) has an entirely different tradition.
In Quaker tradition, the couple indulge in each other, said Sara Pearce, a 32-year-old clinical kinesiologist and owner of Aspire Sports Therapies in Greensboro, North Carolina. Pearce, a Quaker, married in 2016 in North Carolina in the Quaker tradition.
“The bride is not a possession to give to your new spouse – walking down the aisle together is the traditional way, and the idea of being gifted seemed strange and artificial,” Pearce said. “We asked the pastor of my Friends meeting to preside over the order of service, but he didn’t marry us, we got married.”
Still, many couples want to acknowledge the importance of their families (and their parents) during their wedding ceremonies, with or without the walk down the aisle.
Rebecca Sloan, a 34-year-old small business owner in Ontario, got married outside on a small Ontario blueberry farm in 2018. To set the tone for their marriage and their future together as equals, Sloan and her fiancé decided to attend the ceremony. and together down the hall.
“Despite this, we still wanted to honor our families and friends, and involve them in the ceremony in a way that shows the important roles they play in our lives,” Sloan said.
They did it through a marriage by hand, which is a Celtic tradition where the couple join their hands with ribbons to symbolize the union of two lives. They had four groups of family and friends, and each one helped tie a ribbon around their hands while the symbolism of the ribbon was read.
“In this way, we were able to design a ceremony that really reflected us as a couple and our values,” Sloan said.