There was a huge amount of fuss about who would walk Meghan Markle down the aisle in the run-up to the royal wedding. Once her dad was ruled out due to ill health, some speculated her mum would do the honours... and then Prince Charles stepped in. All's well that ends well but for some women, having their father walk them down the aisle was never an option in the first place. Whether your father isn't around, has passed away or you just aren't into the tradition of being given away, lots of women are doing things differently on their wedding day. Here, one self-described 'traditionalist' tells us about choosing her mum to walk her down the aisle, and why she's never regretted it...
I got married the day before my 28th birthday to my husband Mark. We met at uni. After a lot of me playing hard to get and making him work for it, we got together a couple of years after we'd graduated. When Mark finally asked me to marry him, I knew without a doubt that I wanted Mum to give me away. Asking her kinda happened organically. We have a very close relationship and we'd often get drunk and plan a wedding that wasn't yet happening; Mum would ask who would walk me down the aisle and, as a quite traditional person, I always said Dad.
Then, when I was 21, my mum and dad got divorced. I was pretty close with my dad but after the divorce he made less effort to stay in touch with me and my sister. He moved from Yorkshire to Southport and remarried in 2011. The last time I saw him was Easter of the same year, when he told my sister and I that he was getting married (we had a car crash on the way to the wedding and so never made it).
For us it was a little bit like the end of an era – it felt like our trio was disbanding and I was joining a new team.
After that I felt like my dad had already given me away. He hardly knew anything about me anymore and had only met Mark twice, for five minutes each time. He was no longer a big part of my life; it would have felt awkward and forced if he had walked me down the aisle.
My mum, sister and I were, and still are, very close and it meant a huge amount to me that it would be them giving permission to Mark and "handing me over" as it were. For us it was a little bit like the end of an era – it felt like our trio was disbanding and I was joining a new team. My mum is the strongest person I know and she knows me better than anyone. I couldn't imagine sharing that special and important moment with anyone else. My bond with Mum was so great that I think we needed this 'thing' for us both to understand that things were going to change a little.
The wedding day itself was a dream. I loved the whole day, it couldn't have gone any better, mainly thanks to my mum and sister. The actual walk down the aisle was a bit of a blur but I remember us both panicking a little – I got married in my village church (where my mum, aunties and grandma all got married). It's old and has a grate down the middle of the aisle where the heating pipes run. We were terrified of getting our heels stuck. Also, Mum was wearing a massive hat. I remember having to lean away from her so as not to be attacked by it. I have a picture of us walking through the church grounds, with Mum walking down the middle of the path and me struggling not to be pushed off the side. They are all wonderful memories, though.
It was an incredibly emotional moment for us. It really did feel like she was giving me away – letting me go to start my new life, where I would be someone's wife and Mark would be my go-to person, not my mum anymore. I'm pretty sure I cried most of the way through the first hymn (but then people coming together and singing nearly always makes me cry).
I don't remember anyone making a big deal about my mum walking me down the aisle (except my dad, who refused to come to the wedding as a consequence). I am quite an old-fashioned and traditional person when it comes to marriage (I spent the last two and a half years being a housewife and loving it) but I am not so ruled by the "proper" way of doing things to realise that it's important to do what makes you happy.
I would always have regretted the decision not to have my mum do it. For me it was an easy choice because of how close the two of us are. Whether it's a brother, a sister, an uncle, a grandparent, a friend or the neighbour's dog – that moment in a wedding is so important and emotional that it should be the person you are most closely tied to who does it.
As told to Katy Harrington