The wedding processional is one of the most significant parts of the wedding day. The father of the bride commonly accompanies his daughter on the walk down the aisle. One detail you might question – what side does the father of the bride walk on?
This act is part of the long-standing ritual of the father giving away the bride. While the more traditional aspects of the father’s role in a wedding ceremony have faded over time, the father is still often present in the wedding processional.
Since he is responsible for walking down the aisle with his daughter, he should know where he should stand!
So, what side does the father of the bride walk on during the wedding processional? The answer is simple: either. It depends on a few different things, such as whether your wedding is a more traditional Christian one.
It also depends on what works best for you. You may not arrange families into sides, but everyone should still have a place.
In nearly any Christian wedding, regardless of the denomination, the father stands on the bride’s right side. The same is true for even non-Christian weddings as it has become the prevalent method.
Jewish weddings reverse the bride and groom’s placements. In a traditionally Jewish wedding ceremony, the father should stand on the left. The bride stands on the right, and the groom stands on the left.
In some Jewish wedding traditions, both parents actually escort the bride down the aisle. The bride’s mother also walks, traditionally on the bride’s right side.
Regardless of religious custom, the bride’s dad actually stands closer to the center of the aisle, walking directly up to the officiant. This places dad between the bride and her groom.
Why Does the Side Matter?
Tradition aside, the staging of this setup works well. It could be crowded for the father if he is not centered. Though, this depends on the width of the aisle and altar area at your venue- there needs to be enough room for the wedding dress!.
He may also briefly cover the bridesmaids or groomsmen if he is standing to the side.
Since the father of the bride typically engages in a short dialogue with the officiant if he is asked, “Who gives this woman to this man?” then he is appropriately staged across from the officiant for this brief exchange in front of the altar.
Additionally, after the walk down the aisle, the dad usually takes the bride’s hand and gives it to her future husband. Having the father closer to the groom means he stands between the bride and groom as they stand at the altar.
Being between them allows the father to transfer his daughter’s hand without any awkward stretching or stepping.
Even if giving her hand does not physically transpire, the father and groom will often have a small exchange of some kind. A thank you, a handshake or a nod are all easier when the father can stand near the groom and not need to look around his daughter to do it.
The History of Giving Away the Bride
We’ve seen it time and time again, but where does the act of giving away the bride come from?
The roots of this tradition are outdated. The tradition stems from the concept of a daughter being akin to property that the father would give away to the groom.
The father would give his daughter to a man along with a dowry. The dowry was an amount of money the groom would receive following the marriage. It could serve as one of the “enticements” as to why a man would marry a particular woman.
A father walking his daughter down the aisle on his arm was, in a sense, overseeing the deal. The father’s presence assured that the groom could not back down, since back then, marriages were more centered on business rather than affection.
Giving Away the Bride in a Modern Context
These days, dowries and property exchange play a lesser role in marriages, especially in the United States. Some people feel that including any hint to these old days in their ceremony is sexist and disrespectful.
This feeling is completely understandable, but you don’t have to think of partaking in traditional aspects of a wedding as inherently unsuitable.
A father walking his daughter down the aisle doesn’t have to represent a bygone tradition of handing off his property. A father escorting his daughter down the aisle can simply represent his care and support for her as she enters into a new phase of her life.
Brides and their fathers can choose to treat their wedding processional together as a special moment on the wedding day.
Some women choose to have a different member of the family walk her down the aisle, in some cases her mother. In cases where the father has passed away or is unable to participate, this is unavoidable. Some women do not have anyone walk them down the aisle.
Most traditions and rituals in typical weddings represent honor and respect, which are at the heart of the ceremony. Even if their sources are outdated or even offensive, the sentiments have changed.
Many of these traditions have morphed into a way to symbolize care and support for the bride and groom.
Where Does the Father of the Bride Sit During the Ceremony?
Where the father of the bride sits during the ceremony depends on how you approach the seating arrangement. Typically, the bride’s side of the family sits on the left, as that’s most often where she stands next to the groom.
The couple’s immediate family sits towards the front of the guests, usually occupying the first two or three rows on either side.
Since the father is one of the active participants in the ceremony, he should have a designated seat he can easily access after he has fulfilled his role. Once he has walked down the aisle, he should be able to quickly find his seat.
The father’s seat at the wedding should be close to the aisle. If he’s seated further away from it, he will have to walk across more guests’ fields of vision. This is potentially distracting, as he may walk in front of members of the bridesmaids.
If the father cannot sit in the closest aisle seat, he should not have to sit too far in the line of chairs. Doing this is also considerate because it allows the father to rest as soon as he has done his part.
These details may seem insignificant, but ultimately there are reasons for them when wedding planning. Many of these details allow the ceremony’s choreography to go more smoothly.
Everyone involved with the wedding ceremony should know where they stand and sit, including the father of the bride.
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