I made a really difficult decision recently, one that required a lot of inner reflection, time to think, and bouncing my thoughts off of other, close, trusted individuals. I decided that I will walk myself down the aisle during my wedding ceremony.
I had already asked both my biological father and my stepdad to walk me. I hadn't even thought about the logistics of the whole thing. If I were holding flowers, would they link their arms in mine? With three people walking side-by-side (down a narrow aisle, at that) and a train involved, how would we avoid trampling the dress? Deep down, though, it wasn't about how the three of us would get it done. It was all about the feminist in me.
I hate labels. I really do. People associate certain ideas, memories/experiences, and stereotypes with labels. Someone recently told me I was a free spirit. Immediately my reaction was to cringe, even though I absolutely love the idea of me being a free spirit (and others being free spirits, too!). It's just that I've seen so many different labels misused and misunderstood that, even when someone is complimenting me, my first instinct is to rub it off like an unwanted kiss.
Ultimately, I have to admit that I am a feminist, whether others like it or not. I am an activist. I am a free spirit. And I really don't want anyone walking me down the aisle.
There are so many odd wedding traditions I think are outdated or horribly sexist, and others that are just plain gross to me. However, the idea of someone walking the bride down the aisle is, in my mind, a beautiful tradition. So many people have walked with me on the road to where I am today; the problem is that the number of family and friends who have walked with me is a HUGE number! Why does the father walk the bride down the aisle, and not the mother? How does my twin sister play into that, or some of my best girlfriends? What about my grandfather, my great-aunt, my high school teachers...? Better yet, what is the meaning of any of them walking me down the aisle in the first place?
To me, I feel it is a gesture meaning that person is giving me away. There are multiple reasons why I don't like the idea of someone "giving me away." I made it clear to my fiance, before he asked me to marry him, that he only had to ask me--not my parents. I've been independent for over nine years. I moved out of my parents' home just weeks after I turned 18 and never went back. I've been supporting myself for a long time, so why would my future husband ask anybody else but me permission to be his wife? Even though I could try and ignore the symbolism of my dads walking me down the aisle, my inner compass was telling me that it bothered me, a lot, and that I shouldn't ignore it.
I know I tend to resist traditions that are followed simply because "they've always been done that way." Still, making this change to the order of things and risking hurting the feelings of others was nothing I took lightly. Luckily, both of my dads are supportive of strong women, are not anti-feminists, and are extremely understanding guys. Both said that above all they wanted me to feel comfortable with all of my decisions and do what would make me the most happy on my wedding day.
I've heard a lot of really cool wedding traditions, and I've nothing against individuals doing what they want to do to celebrate their union, partnership, love, and commitment. The beauty of weddings is that you don't HAVE to do what people say you HAVE to do...you can do whatever you want! Okay, unless your parents are paying for the wedding, in which case, I think you're probably out of luck. I truly believe that the more creative we are, the more fun we have. Our intention for our wedding day is to enjoy it simply and lovingly, and we really aren't incorporating many traditions into our ceremony or celebration. I definitely look forward to hearing about what others are doing or have done for their own weddings--traditions that I may or may not be able to share in but ones that I can appreciate nonetheless.
In the meantime, I'm so grateful for a huge weight to be lifted from me. Now, if I can just NOT step on the dress...