Why does the father walk a bride down the aisle?

Most cultures and religions have many customs and traditions when it comes to weddings and being true to yourself while navigating other people’s expectations and your own beliefs can be tricky.

One popular tradition that can cause quite a bit of controversy these days is that of a father walking his daughter down the aisle. Depending on your point of view, it could be considered a time-honoured transition from daughter to wife or, it could be considered an outdated, patriarchal practice that objectifies independent women. That said, the history behind the tradition is really interesting.

Originally, marriage was seen as an economic and financial liaison with dowries (money and gifts) passing from the bride’s family to the groom’s, or a bride price (money and gifts) from the groom’s family to that of the bride. And it was this financial aspect that got fathers involved. As the bride was considered a financial liability who was being transferred from her father’s household to her groom’s, it was thought that things would run more smoothly if the father was involved, and the groom would be less likely to back out!

Understandably, some modern women may not feel quite so comfortable with the idea of being ‘given away’ from one male to another. Alternatively, they might not be remotely concerned as it’s only symbolic these days, and simply enjoy the tradition as part of the ceremony. And of course, there’s nothing to stop both parents, or just the mother, or any other family member or friend for that matter, walking down the aisle with the bride – or indeed the bride and groom could walk down together.

The trick is to remember that as we can pick and choose which traditions we want to observe, sometimes it’s nice to know a little bit about their origins.