Who Gives this Woman in Marriage
Dear Engaged Couple: One of the questions I ask soon-to-be brides when I sit down with them (and their fiancés) to talk about their weddings is, “Do you want me to ask, ‘Who gives this woman in marriage?’” I ask that because many women I marry are ambivalent about whether they want to include that question in the wedding service. Truthfully, I am, ambivalent, too. I mean, most couples I marry have made it through college. At this point in their lives, they are on their own. They have not lived under their parents’ roof for years. Most are supporting themselves. They have arrived.
Furthermore, “Who gives this woman in marriage,” suggests to me, that a transfer is taking place, as in a transfer of property. However, the woman does not really belong to her parents—she is an adult. If she belongs to anyone it is to herself.
However, I have to tell you, that more brides want me to ask this traditional question, than not. Why? I imagine they fear that their fathers would be sorely disappointed if the question were NOT asked.
The best way to resolve what can be a conundrum, is to be open and honest. So you, the bride-to-be, MIGHT say, “Dad, you know I want you to be part of my wedding—but do you want the officiant to ask you, ‘Who gives this woman in marriage?’ because I am of two minds about that.” And then explain your reasons and listen to his response. There actually ARE dads who don’t want the question put to them, because they don’t agree with the particular tradition’s implications.
There is another way to word the question “Who gives this woman in marriage” which, frankly, I prefer. That is this: “Who presents this woman in marriage?” The woman, then, is not being transferred from one man to another,. Instead, she is being introduced to her groom. I know, hopefully she and the groom have already met, but this is the first time she is being introduced to him in her wedding dress.
There is really nothing awkward at all about NOT asking the question, though. The father, or in some instances, the mother AND the father, or the mother alone (if the father is deceased, or not in the picture) or a brother or uncle simply escorts the bride down the aisle. Then, the one (or two) doing the escorting simply kiss(es) the bride on the cheek, shake(s) the groom’s hand, or pat(s) him on the back and then stands back. No words are exchanged. The emotion is reflected in body and hand movements. And what is being reflected? Why love, of course. And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
Happy wedding planning!
Your Wedding Preacher for Hire