Traditionally, a father walks his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day as a ceremonial nod to the idea of giving her away. If you can get past the patriarchal implications of this, it's easy to view the practice simply as a thoughtful way of including your dad on your special day, which is how I see it. It's obvious from most photos of dads walking their daughters down the aisle that the tradition remains an emotional and significant one for some other women, too.
According to Brides, having your dad walk you down the aisle wasn't always symbolic. Turns out, it was a legit scare tactic used to prevent the groom from backing out. Brides were seen then as financial liabilities (LOL, what?) so the handing over of the bride from father to groom also meant she had officially transferred households and was now someone else's financial responsibility.
Today, in most countries, that's not exactly the case. Women aren't ashamed to earn more than their partners making them financial hostages no more. So why hold on to this wedding tradition? Honestly, it's just a nice thing to do — a way to honor your dad and all that he's done for you up until this point. It's practical, too, because now you have someone there to help you keep your balance if you trip.
The walk down the aisle can be long and intimidating and it helps to have someone like your dad there to make the journey with. Think of it this way: He held your hand when you learned to walk as a toddler and now he's holding your hand as you walk confidently into this new phase of your adult life. The thought alone makes me tear up, as stoic as I'd like to think I am sometimes.
Some wedding traditions can seem performative, like smashing the cake in each other's faces, or even silly, like removing the garter, but this one — walking down the aisle with your dad — feels different for some people. It's genuine, moving, and comforting. I imagine it feels a lot like having your dad pick you up after a fall from your bike with an encouraging, "That's OK, champ. You got this!" like only he could. Or maybe it's like looking out into the crowd at your high school graduation and seeing his smiling face as he applauds vigorously. Whatever it is, the truth is he's always been right there by your side for the big stuff and the not-so-big stuff so it makes sense that he'd be there on your wedding day, too.
These four photographs capture the intense emotions of bride, dad, and wedding guests alike as they witness this special moment.