There are certain expectations that come with weddings: The bride should always wear white, the groom will always give a speech, and the father of the bride should always be the person to walk the bride down the aisle and give her away to her husband-to-be. Although my wedding may be sticking with many traditions, I’ve decided to break one rule and ask my mom to walk me down the aisle.
Some people were surprised by my decision, (they obviously didn’t know me very well) and there have even been some unwanted opinions that have tried to change my mind about who should give me away at my own wedding. The resistance and the constant questioning about why my mom should walk me down the aisle has made me think about the passive roles expected of women at wedding ceremonies. It’s unconventional or surprising for the bride to make a speech, but it’s expected for the groom, father of the bride, and best man to have many minutes in the limelight. The father of the bride even gets the chance to dance with his daughter before she dances the night away with her husband.
Weddings are centered around men having active and starring roles, but women are just expected to look breathtakingly beautiful and to be seen and not heard. Mothers of both the bride and groom are expected to be invisible besides when they are called to have the appropriate photo opportunity.
So on the biggest day of my life, it seemed absurd that my mother should play the part of nothing but a glorified guest. My mom, like the majority of mothers, did the hard work when it came to raising me. It was my mom that did the day-to-day work of getting me ready to be a responsible adult, from the “wife” duties of not only cooking, but also teaching me the importance of being brave enough to speak my mind and treat everyone the same despite their differences. It was my mom who gave me the tools to overcome failures and pick myself up in my toughest times. It was my mom who taught me the importance of working hard and never cutting corners when you want to achieve something, as well as equipping me with the practical life skills and emotional intelligence to be a well-rounded person and partner to my future husband. So when I think about all that she has given me, it is only right that she would be the only person to give me away.
It seems like I’m not the only bride-to-be who believes that their mother should be front and center when it comes to their big day. If the rumors are true, Meghan Markle also wants her mom to walk her down the aisle. Although many believe that Meghan is making a bold break from tradition, it always seemed obvious to me that her mom would walk her down the aisle.
Meghan has always been vocal about the close bond she shares with her mother, and we haven’t seen Meghan with her father besides photos of them together from her childhood. In the first interview Meghan gave with her future husband, Prince Harry, he said hadn’t met Meghan’s father in person, despite the pair dating for 18 months and now being engaged. Meanwhile, Prince Harry has met her mother and the pair openly admitted that they have both spent a lot of time with Meghan’s mom, Doria Radlan. With that in mind, we all need to stop viewing Meghan’s decision to have her mother walk her down the aisle as a rebellious statement against long standing traditions, but rather a true testament and reflection of who she is, what her values are, and her upbringing.
Weddings are bound by culture and tradition, and sometimes it can be great, and in some cases it can be detrimental. In the case of the stereotypical mother of the bride, where women are virtually invisible on the day but the father of the bride is placed on proverbial pedestal and applauded by guests for his contribution in raising his daughter, it isn’t just unfair to mothers — it also sets a dangerous tone for the gender dynamics in marriages. It tells us that marriages are partnerships where women are doing the hard work of running the household in private, but in public, they aren’t acknowledged for their commitment and hard work in raising their children.
Many people have asked me if choosing my mother to give me away is a feminist act, and to me, it isn’t. Asking my mother to give me away is about doing the right thing and giving her a moment in the spotlight that she deserves.
This post was written by Tobi Oredein. For more, check out our sister site Grazia.