When my fiancé proposed with a sword (yes a sword), it was very clear that my wedding was going to be, let's see...a little bit different.
Long story short? I’m not getting walked down the aisle.
If we take it back a few centuries, it’s clear that walking the bride down the aisle is about giving her away. It’s about transferring “ownership” from her parents to her husband. Not only do I find this transfer of possession problematic, but I feel that for all intents and purposes, I left my parents' care long ago. In fact, I would argue that I left it over 10 years ago when I went off to college. That’s not to say that I don’t rely on them at all—I obviously do—but when it comes down to it, I feel that my wedding should focus on my partner and I coming together as a unit—which (as much as I love them) has very little to do with my parents.
Traditions can go one of three ways. You can take them for what they are (history and all that), you can adapt them and interpret them in your own way, or you can reject them entirely. Assuming all individuals involved are consenting with equal power (not always the case throughout history!), it all comes down to personal preference, what’s important to you, your beliefs and, of course, your family.
First of all, I’m Jewish, and the tradition I grew up with is for both parents to walk their daughter down the aisle. The plus side here is that both parents are showcased as equally important (down with the patriarchy!). The downside, however, is that I’ve had to stomp on two hearts on my path to independence.
Let me emphasize that I have very loving parents who have supported me for many years, so they are very upset and hurt by my decision to not partake in this aspect of the traditional ritual. On the one hand, I wish more than anything that they would be proud of my choice and appreciate the independence they helped cultivate. I also wonder whether these 15 seconds of my life are worth the distress I’m causing. Then, I remind myself that small moments can produce deep meaning and lasting memories, and I remember that I want to create a memory that’s right for me.
That doesn’t mean that I can’t compromise. Despite my resolution to walk alone, my parents and I do acknowledge that this ceremony is, to some degree, about two families merging. To respect that, we’ve invited our families to walk down the aisle before us. They will be accomplices to, not facilitators of, the next stage of my life.
I’m so excited to walk down the aisle by partner’s side (we're meeting in the middle), to combine our two last names into one (yes, we’re doing that too!), and to make a commitment. I know that, for me, reworking these rituals and avoiding tradition for tradition’s sake allows me to be my most authentic self. That is more important than living up to parents’ expectations or dealing with difficult conversations.
In the end, a marriage is about you and your partner (or partners!). So many of us get caught up in trying to please those around us, that we forget that the wedding itself is about that, too. Those who love you will respect your decisions, even if they don’t agree with them. So listen to your gut, take a second to visualize the ritual you are creating.