Given Away?

Title image for 'Given Away', a blog post about gay wedding ideas

When it comes to gay wedding ideas, giving away the bride is not the most obvious consideration, but it can be relevant for same sex couples.

Ok, so there may not be a bride… or there may be more than one! But the tradition is more relevant that it might seem on the surface.

Originating in a deeply misogynistic culture, this tradition hails from a time when wives were legally considered a possession. In modern weddings the tradition has persisted as a way for families to show support for the marriage. For many fathers, the act is a rite of passage symbolising the completion of their paternal role. Despite the uncomfortable symbolism, the tradition has been adapted and persists as one of the most popular in modern weddings.

Oddly, this tradition is one that I would have considered altogether too anachronistic, if it weren’t for the way it works in a same sex wedding. I have explored this in my Walk Me Down The Aisle post last year from a general perspective. But for my rainbow family, I really want to encourage all of you to consider keeping this tradition in your wedding ceremony.

Although in a heterosexual wedding this tradition is a little old fashioned, for us it can be incredibly affirming. Members of our community are not always accepted by their own family. Those who do have that privilege should celebrate it. And even for those whose birth family have not accepted them: the act of having chosen family walk you down the aisle on your special day not only affirms the validity of your love: it affirms the validity and importance of chosen family.

Who walks?

One of the considerations is that a same sex couple, especially a lesbian couple (due to the weight of tradition), may both want to walk down the aisle. There is absolutely no reason why this cannot happen. If you are in charge of how the venue is set up, consider setting it up with the guests’ chairs in three banks. This creates two aisles, allowing for two brides/grooms/spouses to enter simultaneously.

Who escorts?

You can adapt the tradition of having a bride’s father give her away in any way that has meaning for you. A pair of grooms may choose to have their mothers walk them down the aisle and give them away. A pair of brides may like to have members of their chosen family escort them. A pair of non-binary spouses may choose to be brought in by their siblings. The designation of the relationship is far less important than the quality of the relationship: choose someone who means something to you.

What does everyone say?

The way you word this tradition is also up to you. Your choice and should be informed, rather than hindered, by convention. Adjust the wording to suit your circumstances and preferences. Traditionally the celebrant would ask, “who brings this woman to be wed?”, to which the father responds “I do”. I suggest prompts more along these lines:

“Who brings this person/groom/bride to be be wed?”

“Who blesses this wedding?”

“Which one of you two is marrying that one?”

And the responses are equally variable:

“Her/their/his family does.”

“I brought him/them/her with all the blessings of our family.”

“Their/his/her family does.”

“They/she/he is.”

Given that most weddings begin with a procession set to music, though, I think it more elegant when nothing is said. The person giving the blessing can leave the bride or groom with their spouse-to-be with a hug or a handshake and take their place before the music stops.

LGBTIQA+ couples wanted the right to marry because the tradition is meaningful to us. Our challenge now is to reinterpret the traditions associated with weddings in a way that’s meaningful to us. I love hearing about gay wedding ideas that help to renew traditions. I’d love for you to get in touch with your ideas.

Published by Trevar Alan Skillicorn-Chilver

Trevar Alan Skillicorn-Chilver is an authorised celebrant, a playwright, a teacher and quite a few other things!

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