International marriage ceremonies - giving away the bride
March 10, 2016 2:23 PM   Subscribe

I'm wondering if anyone knows of a marriage ceremony (or marriage ceremonies) from anywhere in the world in which the bride isn't "given away" as in your standard Christian ceremony? Specifically, I'm wondering if there are any in which the father (or whoever) and husband make an agreement to jointly care for the bride. Of course, I know ceremonies can basically be custom-tailored these days, but I'm wondering if there are any traditional ceremonies in which this is a thing. Really just random curiosity (and potentially future planning ;) )! Thanks, everyone!!
posted by anoncanuck to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Im not a hindu (but am married to a very secular one).

the (north) indian tradition of a baraat processional is essentially the groom and his family making their way to the brides home (or more recently the wedding venue, but traditionally the bride's family home).

not suggesting indian gender politics are a place of equal harmony - or that you couldnt look at and find plenty of patriarchal implications in the tradition - but it does defy the western christian concept of the father "giving the bride away"
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 2:37 PM on March 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

In Jewish tradition both the bride's parents escort the bride, and both the groom's parents escort the groom. (Or, you know, however many parents you have.) I think the symbolism is lovely -- your parents supporting you as you make your way towards each other.
posted by babelfish at 2:42 PM on March 10, 2016 [11 favorites]

FYI, most Christians DON'T give away the bride (it actually renders a Catholic wedding theoretically annulable as it suggests the bride was not freely entering the marriage, and it's not permissible to insert it). It's primarily an English-speaking Protestant thing, I believe (and a lot of those traditions have moved away from it; many ministers won't do it); you can probably find a lot of the variations you're looking for in non-English-speaking Christianity. Joint processionals are preferred by many denominations, for example.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:44 PM on March 10, 2016 [10 favorites]

Best answer: I'm also not Hindu but I recently had the honor of officiating at a ceremony that was a combination of Vedic rituals and humanist thoughts.

As a result, I had many discussions with the groom's family, who are Hindu, in which they explained to me the meaning of various rituals. I vetted my script with a close friend of the family from the Brahmin caste who officiates many ceremonies and who chanted the Sanskrit shlokas during our ceremony, and I also did a fair amount of research on my own.

So, based on the foregoing: There are several points during the ceremony in which both the bride and groom perform specific rituals to signify their voluntary entering into the marriage, including the exchange of garlands at the beginning of the ceremony. I also found it very moving that, during the Mangal Fera ritual, in which the couple circles the ceremonial fire four times (with each circle signifying assent to the one of the four qualities of householder life), the bride's brothers placed offerings in her hands as a symbol that they will always be there for her and will support her if she ever needs it. The bride is traditionally escorted down the aisle by her uncle -- our bride does not have an uncle, so her eldest brother escorted her -- but there is no handing off as a giving away.

The more I learned of the meanings of the rituals, the more delighted I was, and one of the guests who is a very conservative Protestant minister (and relative by marriage to the groom) told me later that he liked the meaning of the rituals so much that he scooped up several programs to hand off to his church elders with the idea that they could somehow be incorporated into their weddings.
posted by janey47 at 3:16 PM on March 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

FYI, most Christians DON'T give away the bride (it actually renders a Catholic wedding theoretically annulable as it suggests the bride was not freely entering the marriage, and it's not permissible to insert it).

It is true that according to the reformed rite of marriage put in place after the Second Vatican Council, it is preferred that the bride and groom enter together to emphasize their place as co-ministers of the sacrament of marriage.

However, there are currently two rites in use in the Latin Rite and there's no question that it's permissible in at least one of them for the bride to be "given away" by her father, the use according to the liturgical books of 1962. This usage is found in Catholic liturgical books of about a millennia ago too, so it's not a recent thing only found under Protestant influence). Whether it's permissible in the reformed rite is perhaps arguable (as, among other things, a contra legem custom).
posted by Jahaza at 3:25 PM on March 10, 2016 [5 favorites]

In a traditional Polish wedding ceremony, the bride and groom walk down the aisle together. Either before the wedding or at the start of the reception, both sets of parents will welcome the bride and groom with bread and salt.

That said, traditionally there was a formal engagement ceremony prior to the wedding where the groom did ask for the bride's hand from her parents, but once that's done, there's no 2nd giving away at the wedding.
posted by antimony at 4:12 PM on March 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

I recently attended a traditional Anglican ceremony and they replaced 'giveth' with 'brings'. One word difference but I thought it was a nice way of implying that her family were happily accompanying her.

Though we joked about using 'drageth'.
posted by kitten magic at 6:11 PM on March 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

In the United Methodist Church, there is an option for the pastor to say "Who presents this woman to be married to this man," and usually, but not always, the father says "Her mother and I do."

Likewise, the mother could say "her father and I do ."
posted by 4ster at 8:17 PM on March 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

In the Japanese wedding I was in last year, the bride and groom walked down the "aisle" (it was not held in a church, but a temple*) and the only people attending them were two ladies constantly adjusting my friend's clothes. None of the parents was asked to speak at the wedding, only at the reception later - and there only both fathers.

* Usually, Japanese weddings, if they're not done the Western way, are held at Shinto shrines, but my friend married into a family with temple connections, so she got married at Tsukiji Hongan-ji.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 12:50 PM on March 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow, so fascinating! Thanks, everyone, for your answers. The Hindu Mangal Fera sounds the closest to what I was specifically curious about - a traditional ceremony in which the bride's family (or whoever) "officially" promise to continue to care for her. I'll have to look into it some more. :) Anyway, all so neat! Thanks again! I'd love to hear more, if anyone has more to share!
posted by anoncanuck at 9:41 AM on March 13, 2016

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