There were a lot of things I obsessed about when I was getting married. The seating plan, the amount of teaspoons needed and the weather were high on my priority list, but worrying about who was going to walk me down the aisle was never really a concern.
My dad passed away when I was young, so unlike Meghan Markle, who has suddenly been thrust into making a last-minute decision about who will accompany her as she makes her entrance, I always knew I needed to think of an alternative.
The funny thing is, you can be as alternative as you want – you can walk in alone, with bridesmaids…even with your significant other, but on the day, your dad still plays a role whether you like it or not.
In a civil ceremony, before it starts, the bride is required to have an interview with the registrar and during this, they ask about the father. It might seem mad that in this day and age you still have to have your father’s full name and occupation listed on your marriage certificate, and it doesn’t make for particularly fun conversation.
“What does your dad do?”
“Oh, he’s deceased.”
“Right. Well what did he do before he died?”
“Oh…he was a banker.”
Then you’re expected to skip merrily off down the aisle, not thinking about your dead relative and the fact they won’t be present on the day.
It had never worried me that my dad wouldn’t be there to ‘give me away’ because I don’t really like that turn of phrase – but I also didn’t really want to go it alone. Kudos to all the brides who do walk down the aisle unaided, but I knew I’d be so bloody nervous that there was no way my feet would move one in front of the other without someone to cling on to.
Thankfully, I’m very close to my younger brother and he agreed to assist – and on the day there was nobody I’d rather have had with me for those few seconds before I had to face a room full of faces and attempt to keep in time to the music while simultaneously not tripping over my dress.
And, despite the fact he’s not my dad, he still delivered a brilliant ‘father of the bride’ speech – which I’m sure was much more brutal than anything a parent would have given. I’m not sure I fared too well…apparently all those times I was mean in childhood weren’t forgotten after all.
I’ve come to realise that there’s far too much pressure on the formalities of a wedding, and deciding who walks you down the aisle shouldn’t be a stressful consideration – just go with what’s best for you, whether that’s your dad, mum, family pet or nobody at all. I don’t feel my wedding experience was lessened because my dad wasn’t there – I still had someone special by my side, my stepdad was our photographer and my mum did a reading. Of course, we always remember the people who aren’t present, but it’s the people who are who make the day so special and make the memories that last.
Oh, but speaking of memories, make sure you know your father’s middle name and job title. Apparently in all the stress of the day they’re the really important facts to know…