I receive a great deal of questions regarding the bride's entrance which generally marks the beginning of a wedding ceremony. I have already addressed who should have the honor of escorting the bride in a previous column so I'll move on to other concerns.
Jillian in St. Cloud, FL: What exactly will you say when I get to the front with my mom and dad? I don't want to be "given away."
Rev. Fuller: I agree with you completely and prefer not to ask "who gives this woman..." I use a number of different phrases depending upon whether the ceremony is secular or religious, casual or formal. It may be as simple as "Who presents this woman at her wedding this day?" or I may say something like:
"Truly blessed is the couple who come to their marriage with the approval and support of their families and friends. Who has the honor of presenting this woman to be married this day?"
Dani in Atlanta, GA: I like the idea of someone walking me down the aisle so I don't fall over from nerves, but I don't really want to be presented. Can we skip that?
Rev. Fuller: This is not uncommon. I ask the guests to rise before the bride begins her walk down the aisle. So when brides skip the question of presentation, I tell the escort before the ceremony that he or she can simply take a seat when I instruct the guests to be seated. I begin the ceremony by asking the couple to "turn towards one another, join your hands and in so doing, join your hearts." It does not seem unusual or awkward at all.
Above: Shannon Perez of Florida Beachside Weddings
Right: Beverly Bennett Photography
Jonah in Cocoa, FL: We want the formality of a question of presentation to begin our wedding, but we want to present ourselves. How would that work?
Rev. Fuller: Any number of ways! I have seen couples present themselves, but maintain the tradition of the groom waiting up front for the bride escorted down the aisle. I have seen couples flout tradition and walk down the aisle hand in hand. One couple skipped and dance down the aisle together!
At one wedding I used the phrase, "Who presents this couple to be married this day?" with the couple responding, "We present ourselves freely, with respect to our parents.”
The Declaration of Intent can easily serve as a self-presentation by a couple. There are many different versions depending upon the type of ceremony. One example is:
As marriage is a union of two people joining their lives willingly one with the other, I ask (couple), do you present yourselves today with the intention to share with each other your joys and sorrows and all that the years have to bring, and with your promises cherish one another from this day forward?
Rev. Ann Fuller
The commentary on this blog is my own opinion developed over years of officiating a wide range of wedding sizes and styles. I am always happy to answer any questions you may have.