Catholic Wedding Entrance Procession

I wanted to honor my mother and father by having them both walk me down the aisle, but I think The Catholic Rite of Marriage suggests otherwise. Opinions please?

"The rite calls for you to process as a couple and notes that if local custom suggests, you may be escorted by your parents and your witnesses (usually the maid of honor and best man). Such flexibility is characteristic of the wedding liturgy; it allows for a good deal of cultural adaptation.

In the United States, the groom is at times left out of the procession and the bride comes in with her father. Your parish will likely permit such an arrangement, and whoever is helping you plan your wedding will direct you to local guidelines.

When planning your procession, be careful to consider the message that the order you choose communicates. It is important to recognize that every action in liturgy is symbolic.

The custom of a father “giving away” his daughter is rooted in a time when marriage was primarily an economic transaction in western culture. Women needed the income potential of a man and men needed the domestic skills that women provided in order for both thrive, and many times, to simply survive. Marriage was in a very real sense the ritual passing of a woman from her father’s home to that of her husband. In even earlier times, women were “given” to men in arranged marriages, often as part of a larger exchange of property and wealth.

The Catholic Rite of Marriage, expresses the mutuality of the spouses in the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of marriage. The explicit inclusion of parents in the entrance procession seeks to honor with clear recognition the roles that both mothers and fathers play in the lives of their children."

“Here is what the Rite of Marriage says about the entrance procession:
If there is a procession to the altar, the ministers [e.g., lectors, altar servers] go first, followed by the priest, and then the bride and bridegroom. According to local custom, they may be escorted by at least their parents and the two witnesses. Meanwhile, the entrance song is sung. (#20)
Sound unfamiliar? That’s because in the United States and elsewhere, it is much more common for the bride to be escorted down the aisle by her father, who then “gives” her to the groom waiting at the altar—a tradition rooted in the days when weddings were viewed as a sort of property transaction (with the woman being the property).
The wedding procession suggested by the Rite of Marriage better symbolizes the Church’s understanding of the complementary role of the husband and wife in marriage.
Another option is to skip the procession altogether; the presider simply greets the bride and groom at the altar (Rite of Marriage #19).”

They tried to pull that on us too, but my dad walked me down the aisle, after my bridesmaids had processed, and my husband and the groomsmen waiting at the altar. I wanted the traditional series of events. I am glad I stuck to my guns and did it that way. My dad would have been crushed if I had not had him walk me down the aisle, and those photos are priceless to me.

My cousin had her father and grandfather walk her down the aisle. At the altar, the grandfather sat next to his wife in the pew. Only the father gave her away to her soon-to-be husband. The family and some of the guests understood the bride held them both in the highest of esteem. I have seen Priests being flexible on that point.

Thank you both for your replies. While I want to honor my father, I can’t help but think the church knows best or else they would suggest otherwise? Tough decisions :shrug:

No… the rite allows this. Are you suggesting that, since the rite talks about you and your fiance processing together, that the Church seems to mandate that option?

The Church makes a suggestion in this case, and you are free to take it or leave it. I left it and no one was harmed in the process - no one mistook the tradition for my dad selling me : )

The custom of the father of the bride escorting his daughter down the aisle comes from Germanic marriage tradition: in that context, the father ‘owned’ the bride, and escorted her to her husband, to whom he transferred ‘ownership.’ Is that the “traditional series of events” that you were looking to preserve in your wedding Mass? :wink:

My dad would have been crushed if I had not had him walk me down the aisle, and those photos are priceless to me.

I understand this: certainly, in our American culture, dominated as it is by secular and Protestant traditions, this is just ‘the way that it’s done.’ However, are you saying that our culture’s traditions are best… or is it that they are just what we tend to come to expect, by default?

Is it nice that a father ‘gives away’ his daughter? From one perspective, as a sign of a father’s love of his daughter, sure. On the other hand, is it appropriate that only the father does so, and not the mother? Is it appropriate that a 21st century woman be ‘given away’ to a man?

If you wanted empty symbols – that is, symbols without sign value – then that’s one thing. If you wanted photos just like others have, that’s another. However, when the Church suggests that the sign value of a father ‘giving away’ his daughter doesn’t fit the notion of Christian marriage – let alone 21st century gender sensibilities – doesn’t it also make sense to think for a moment of what our actions mean, and what these actions signify?

Just sayin’… :wink:

The Catholic rite allows the procession with my parents and I, but leans toward me processing with my fiance more so. I feel obligated to do what the church recommends as they know better than I and after thinking about it and doing research I feel as though it makes the most sense.

Have you asked your parents, your fiance, or his parents how they feel about this?

What about the prospects of having his parents escort him and your parents escort you? That would be the custom that the rite seems to be alluding to…

A couple months ago our celebrant priest kindly suggested my fiance and I process together as this is what the Catholic rite recommends. My parents simply stated it is about my fiance and I, so do what is best for us. I know they’d prefer to walk me down the aisle though because it’s a secular tradition and everyone else does it. My fiances’ parents’ aren’t able to make it to our wedding, unfortunately.

Whatever its origins, it is now the American custom. It has as much to do with Germanic property transfers as Christmas trees have to do with paganism. Not much anymore!
And yes, as a proud American I do embrace our customs and norms. Every culture has them!

Dad escorting his daughter down the aisle has developed into a lovely tradition that signifies a transfer from one’s family of origin to the start of a new family. One last moment as “Daddy’s girl” before her commitment to her husband superceeds all other relationships. One last chance for Dad to say, “Take care of my girl.” A touching moment and a tribute to the man who taught his daughter what it meant to be a man. A photo that will warm your heart long after Dad has gone. An honor a father has anticipated, maybe feared a bit, but ultimately that he has looked forward to and deserves.

I hardly think that it’s an “empty symbol” as you so snarkily put it. At least it wasn’t for me.
It’s certainly not the only way to do things, but it is perfecrly valid and no way would I have broken my dad’s heart over some newfangled alternative.

Just sayin’

Congratulations on your upcoming Sacrament!

As I understand it, the bride is not “given away” by anyone. The bride and groom give themselves to each other. A parent(s) or other important person in the bride’s life may escort her in the entrance procession to the altar.

Speak with your husband-to-be and your priest for their thoughts. Prayerfully make your plans for your Mass. Blessings upon the two of you. :flowers:

Here’s how our procession went:
Parents of the groom
Parents of the bride
Ring bearer & flower girls
Matron of Honor #1 (one of my cousins who is like a sister) & Best Man #1 (my brother)
Matron of Honor #1 (my other cousin who is like a sister) & Best Man #1 (DH’s brother)
DH and me
our priest

I was in my late 30s and my husband was 40 when we got married. I think my mother was more upset than my dad, but oh well. :shrug: My dad said he appreciated the statement our procession made - that we were choosing to marry each other - and that it showed our unity as a couple.

OP: It’s not a mandate. You should be able to do it in the way you describe. Don’t worry.

I really don’t get it either. I tried to get my (then) fiancee to do the procession as suggested, but she refused… wanted the whole father giving her away thing. I really wanted to approach the altar with her. Go figure, the one thing that the Church is clearly “progressive” on and even “progressive” minded people can’t get on board with it… :stuck_out_tongue:

A bit off topic, perhaps, but the in the Byzantine Catholic Church, it is always the priest who escorts the bride and groom down the aisle. He literally leads them by the hand, and there is no giving away at all. Just a bit of trivia for you.

My parents escorted me down the aisle; my mother was thrilled to be included. I felt like I was leaving my parents home to start my own and not handed over from one male to another.

[quote="JackieMom]I hardly think that it’s an “empty symbol” as you so snarkily put it.

You misunderstand me, then. That wasn’t ‘snark’: if someone takes a symbol and appropriates it without any consideration of what that symbol means, then it’s an empty symbol – a show without substance. However, based on what you said in your post, that wasn’t the case…

Here’s the thing, though. I understand your point: symbols are sometimes appropriated across cultures and used in a way that has nothing to do with the originating culture’s meanings. In the case of Christmas trees, this works: pagan tribes used them to celebrate pagan rituals, but Christians appropriated them as a sign of their Christmas traditions. There was a complete break between one meaning (pagan) and the next (Christian).

However, that’s not what’s going on with a father giving away the bride. The custom began in continental Europe and has been retained continuously. It has retained its sign and its meaning. You’re not your dad’s property, you say? Nevertheless, it has retained its notions of patriarchalism – you are saying that “daddy’s little girl” becomes her husband’s girl! It’s funny that you don’t see it, even though you buy into the notion that you don’t stand on your own, but are simply replacing one man who “takes care of” you for another. Hmm… :wink:

And yes, as a proud American I do embrace our customs and norms. Every culture has them!

Again, I’m not calling into question the fervor of your patriotism. Yet, not every American tradition is one to be held up and emulated!

A touching moment and a tribute to the man… An honor a father has anticipated, maybe feared a bit, but ultimately that he has looked forward to and deserves.

So, answer this for me: why is this an honor for a father, but not at all something that a mother could anticipate doing? If you can’t picture your mother walking you down the aisle (and mind you – I’m not talking about the case in which Dad has passed away, and Mom walks her daughter down the aisle as a proxy, but the case in which both Mom and Dad are alive and able to do this)… then you’ve bought into the notion that, as a woman, you need a man to ‘transfer’ you from his household to your husband’s.

Symbol value: it was there in the ancient tradition, and you’ve demonstrated that it remains to today. I take back my original statement: it’s not an ‘empty symbol’, but one that continues to be rife with content that says things that (I doubt) you would say explicitly. :sad_yes:

tried to “pull” what on you? This is in the ACTUAL Catholic rite of marriage. it’s not a “newfangled alternative”.

The rite allows for customs, so there is nothing wrong with the choices you made, but calling THAT the traditional and what the rite actually calls for as new and “pulling something on you” is where the snark is.

Just ask the priest.

You get to make your choice of husband now, your father isn’t choosing a random person to bring connections to the family, favor, or wealth. That’s the problem wtih the symbolism of the father giving away the bride.

That being said, my dad walked me down the aisle. Our priest didn’t mind. As long as you are clear the wedding is of YOUR free will, and not coercion by your parents, I can’t think of a priest I know who would care.

Wow…so much nitpicking on a wedding procession.

There is no doctrine on how a procession can go. From what I was told, you can do the procession anyway you like.

I planned out our procession.
My husband was already at the alter with the Priest before the procession started.
His groomsmen escorted his mother and my mother to their seats.
My bridesmaids walked themselves down the aisle after.
Then my father walked me down the aisle.

Feel free to nitpick and judge…I really don’t care what traditions there are and aren’t.

Talk to your priest and figure it out for yourselves. If you want your parents to give you away…then do it.

That was exactly what my mother did when she got married.

I can’t believe were getting into semantics on what the Church thinks about wedding processions! :shrug:

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