The first couple of steps that a bride takes down the aisle will become one of the most memorable moments of her wedding. When the doors fly open and the guests stand from their chairs to look back and forth at the couple, everyone inside of that room will feel their chests rise and fall with tingles of excitement and happiness.
One of the long-standing wedding traditions is when the bride has her father walk her down the aisle. Wedding historian, Susan Waggoner, explains that the custom stems from the days of arranged marriages, when a father’s looming presence was a good way to prevent the groom from backing out.
It’s a custom that modern day brides are questioning. Just look at Meghan Markle, who entered St. George’s Chapel solo for the royal wedding, taking steps down the aisle without her father on her arm.
Brides are looking to switch things up, and instead of asking their dads to walk them down the aisle, they are getting comfortable with walking down the aisle themselves.
Here are the stories of five women who walked solo down the aisle on their wedding day.
My Divorced Parents are Too Much Drama
“I come from a broken family. My parents got divorced when I was five and their relationship since has been very nasty. They always try to one up each other. My dad was originally going to walk me down the aisle but then I heard rumors that If I let him do that than my mom was going to step into the aisle, grab my other hand, and walk down with us. I honestly didn’t want my wedding to be a show or something that was all about them and their drama. So I just said that I’m going to walk myself down the aisle. They were both angry and I bet they are both still angry about it. It was the right choice and it kept my ceremony drama free.” —Courtney H., 31
I Didn’t Want to Give My Step-Father That Honor
“My father passed away when I was young. My mom remarried very soon after that. I never got along with my step-father. I always felt like he was trying to take my dad’s place and I never wanted that. He felt like it was his honor to do that for me. But I didn’t want him to have that honor because it doesn’t matter how many years I’ve known him, that honor is meant for my real dad and if he can’t be there to do it, I wanted to just do it myself.” —Kim E., 29
I Want Everyone to Understand That I’m Independent
“For most of my life, I was dependent on my parents. I lived at home until I was 28. I was that child that never wanted to grow up. When I finally moved out of their house to live with my finance, I seriously didn’t know how to do that basics like laundry, or the dishes, or even cook pasta. When it came time to planning my wedding, I decided I wanted to do the wedding on my own. I paid for the whole thing, along with my fiance, and I wanted to show everyone that I was no longer my parent’s girl, I was my own person. I walked myself down the aisle to just prove that point. I think my parents were proud. I definitely felt proud of myself.” -Michelle T., 30
I Wasn’t Sure if My Dad Was Going to Be at the Wedding
“I’ve had the most on-and-off relationship with my dad that you can imagine. He left my family when I was only two. From age two to age 18 I had only seen him three times. When I got engaged he didn’t say a word to me even when I left him a voicemail about it. I invited him to the wedding but I wasn’t sure if he was going to even show up. I know it sounds crazy, but I did want him to walk me down the aisle. I’m all about tradition and I wanted that moment to be the one thing my father did for me. He did end up coming to the wedding but I was already halfway down the aisle, solo, before I realized he was sitting in the fifth row.” —Julie G., 25
It Was Just Another Tradition That We Didn’t Stand For
“When I married Jess, we both decided that we wanted a very non traditional wedding. We were the first gay wedding that a lot of our friends were going to be attending and we wanted to do things our way. We both wore colorful dresses, didn’t have flowers, and didn’t read any vows to each other (we didn’t feel the need to express how we felt about each other to 75 people). When it came time to walking down the aisle, we both asked our parents to take seats in the front row. Jess walked down alone first. I walked down alone after. We hoped this show our guests that we were two individuals making a decision to spend life together. That’s what we wanted this tradition to show everyone.” —Marissa H., 32