Following Prince Harry’s wedding last Saturday to Meghan Markle, an inspiring piece in The Pool prompted this post on the wrongs and ‘rights’ of giving away the bride.
When Thomas Markle gave away his rights to give away his daughter, the world waited with bated breath to see who would step in.
Would it be Prince Charles, a steady gnarled hand at the tiller with years of experience of royal shindigs? Or the lowkey mother-of-the-bride Doria Ragland – newcomer to the royal razzamatazz and the billions of pairs of eyes that come with it?
In yet another of many breaks from tradition, the royal bride-to-be Meghan Markle went solo for the first half of the long walk down the aisle. (Except for the two little boys who, in spite of their delight at the fanfare, acquitted themselves very well as bearers of the royal train.)
She was met halfway to the altar by her imminent father-in-law, to the disappointment of many non-traditionalists in the audience. But would a female bride-bestower really have struck a blow for womankind? I think not. And here’s why.
Four years ago, my son proposed marriage to his delightful Swedish girlfriend.
They had been living together, both in Australia and in Sweden, for a couple of years and had decided their future together lay in Australia. I was honoured to be invited to their first meeting with the representative of the Swedish Church here in Melbourne. The Reverend Anna showed us around the church, and the four of us ended the tour at the altar.
‘Is this where I’ll be standing?’ asked my son.
He had assumed the bride would be walked down the aisle by her father.
‘Oh, no,’ replied the Rev.
In Sweden, we do not believe the bride is the property of the father. The bride and groom walk down the aisle together.
Another of the many reasons to love the Swedes and their egalitarian ways. Take for example the perennial problem of matching dresses to bridesmaids of all shapes and sizes. Five of them, in this case. The bride’s response?
Wear something that makes you feel beautiful.
I’m still congratulating myself on my son’s good taste in his choice of life partner. Her unflappability occasionally teetered but never failed her, even when – at the last minute – the Swedish church became unavailable due to renovation works.
The end result was a joyous, colourful and very Australian wedding on the foreshore at Half Moon Bay.
The bride and groom arrived together in The Van, their ancient set of wheels, chauffeur-driven by their mate Swampy. They walked together – barefoot – to the homemade driftwood arch at the water’s edge. The wedding vows were a hilarious combination of Swedish English and Australian rap, ending with the memorable line:
Linny Vik, I’m stoked you’re gonna be my wife.
I’m a convert to those subversive Swedes and their disdain for rules for the sake of rules. No daughter of mine will be ‘given away’, by me or anyone else, if I have anything to say about it. Women are no longer chattels, and brides are the property of no one but themselves.
Meghan Markle’s decision to walk unaccompanied for the start of her journey down the aisle was less a statement than a hastily put-together solution to the last minute absence of her father. We can only hope it starts an avalanche of copy-cat brides, eschewing the paternalistic arm of the head of the household on their walk down the aisle. Or along the foreshore.
Dress: Whatever makes you feel beautiful.