Over my long career creating wedding ceremonies there have been numerous occasions where a parent, or parents couldn’t attend their child’s wedding. At our own wedding it was because some weren’t invited, at others their parents could not be present on the day because of illness, travel complications, and for one of my couples, one died in the days before the wedding.
So many are blessed to have had amazing parents whose presence we appreciate and enjoy, and when something important happens in our lives – like a marriage ceremony – we want them there to witness the day and cheer us on.
So as the now Duke and Duchess of Sussex were entering their wedding week I couldn’t imagine the pain of finding out that Meghan’s father was not only extremely unwell, but also unable to attend their wedding. (Being the most televised wedding of recent times brings a silver lining to the issue in that someone didn’t have to stand there with an iPhone Facetiming the ceremony back to Mexico.)
There was, however, the issue of walking down the aisle. Without a father present at the wedding, Meghan had a true dilemma, how does one get to the end of the aisle without a father?
Suggestions were made that her mother, who seems delightful, would accompany her to Harry. Other news reports talked about Meghan making her own way down the aisle, kind of like how she does in most episodes of Suits as they rush around that Manhattan office getting stuff done.
In the end, she started and finished the trip on her own, and her new Father-in-law escorted her through the middle part of the journey.
In this column though, I wanted to throw a few more options out there for future, princes and princesses, dukes and duchesses, and the rest of us. Because as much as linking arms with dad is a fine and dandy way to go from the carriage to the alter, there are other permissible, valid, meaningful, and awesome ways to get from outside the ceremony, in.
In the absence of a father to give you away, perhaps you could start by examining what, and who, is being given away, and to whom is something being given to? Have you recently lead yourself into situations which required you as a person being given to someone else? And to what end, how does the receiver of this plentiful gift feel about being given something which he or she may never actually “have” or “own”?
Now that we’ve cut open that onion of a modern feminist family discussion, there’s two more vegetables on the cutting table.
If you’re not being given away, maybe you should give yourself to your fiancé? You are an upstanding and strong individual who decides who has access to you, your life, your inbox, and your body, right? So why not walk down that aisle by yourself and own that catwalk, strike a pose, and marry that human?!
Let me put one more option on the menu.
In the last two selections of how to get to the ceremony the other person has already been there. It’s like if you and I want to have coffee at my house, I’ll probably already be at my house, so you have to come to my house. Which is fine for some. But maybe the symbolism and power structure behind having coffee at my house bothers you? What if we both went in on a joint venture to buy a new house where we can go to together to have a coffee? So it’s not my house, or your house, but our house. It seems like overkill for a coffee but maybe there’s a proverb in there somewhere.
Considering my awesome coffee analogy, what if you both walked into the ceremony together, as equals? The two of you power-walking your way into marriage as a team, tackling life, marriage, and that super long St George’s Chapel aisle together.
What if you began your marriage how you intend to live it? Together.