How to Choose Who Walks Down the Aisle at a Same-Sex Wedding

Same-Sex Couple Holding Hands


Confused or conflicted over who should walk the aisle of your same-sex wedding? That's actually a very common concern. But "like all other wedding challenges for same-sex couples, the way you use the aisle can be a creative opportunity rather than an obstacle," says psychotherapist Mark O'Connell. "While short-sighted traditionalists might ask silly questions, you can ask a more meaningful question: What story are you telling—as individuals and as a couple, privately and publicly—by the way you enter the performance of your wedding?" And here's how to figure it out.

Meet the Expert

Mark O'Connell is a psychotherapist and the author of Modern Brides and Modern Grooms.

It's smart to start by changing your vocabulary, O'Connell suggests. Rather than focusing on who will be "given away" to the other, ask yourselves who will be "presented" at the ceremony. When you think of it as "presenting yourself or being presented to your partner and to your guests," O'Connell describes, it can take some pressure off the decision. Then ask, "are there people in your lives who contributed to forging your couplehood?" he says. "If so, perhaps you want them to walk with you as you enter or sing as you present yourselves."

You can also buck tradition and enter the ceremony together. "Get ahead of short-sighted guests who fear change by making it obvious what is happening and how they should participate," O'Connell says. "If your entrance tells your story—for example, the two of you entering at the same time via two separate aisles to a pre-recording of the two of you actually narrating your story—no one should be confused about when to stand, or how to react. You are in charge of the storytelling."

Utilize wedding programs to prepare guests for what to expect during the ceremony and outline any cues you'd like them to participate in.

Another option? Be stationed at the front when your guests arrive. Or consider borrowing from Jewish wedding traditions, in which "both sets of parents walk each spouse down the aisle, presenting them to each other," says O'Connell. "You can do something similar, choosing whomever you would like to present you to your partner and to your guests, symbolizing independence becoming interdependence and a joining of tribes."

Finally, once you've figured out who will walk the aisle and how, "rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, and as you do, consider if anything feels awkward or uncomfortable about it," O'Connell says. "If so, make any adjustments you need to make until your arrival feels relaxed, meaningful, exciting, and fun."

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