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Saturday

"Giving away" the bride - the times have changed...

Well, I actually haven't seen an actual instance of 'giving away' for years. But the question still arises from time to time. People also confuse the procession (walking down the aisle) with 'giving away'. Of course modern brides often walk down the aisle by themselves, or with both parents, or their mom, or sometimes even enter with the groom. Regardless, you can give the person you are walking with a kiss and hug and proceed to the ceremony space yourself, of course.

But it is still nice to ask the family/friends for their support for your marriage, as you invited them to the ceremony because you presumably wanted their participation in this important event. So if you want to formalized their support, here's a bit of ceremony to add:

FAMILY/FRIENDS CEREMONY of SUPPORT
[takes the place of 'giving away the bride', a remnant of dowries and arranged marriages. In some cultures, there are actually 'sponsors' of the bride and groom, who are expected to act as a kind of 'godparent' through their married lives, offering support and assistance. In some other cultures, the family expresses their happiness that the bride and groom are leaving their family homes and establishing their own home together. Regardless, this is a way to 'break the fourth wall' (in theatrespeak) and ask your guests to participate in your ceremony. If you're holding a public ceremony, as opposed to eloping, it's assumed you'd like your guests to feel involved - so go for it. It's a nice alternative to the "who gives this woman to be married to this man?" question.

CELEBRANT:
[May ask family members to stand, or join in a circle, or may simply address the guests together. You may use your own words]
As we gather here to join ___ and ___ in marriage. It is fitting that you, the families [and/or] friends of ___ and ___ be here to witness and to participate in their wedding, for the ideals, the understanding, and the mutual respect which they bring to their marriage have their roots in the love, friendship, support [and guidance] you have given them.

or, to parents:

As our sons and daughters (and/or friends) find partners and found homes for the next generation, each family (each group of friends) is enriched and enlarged.

To all:
This couple, ____ and _____, will need your love and support in the future, not only on this special day. Do you now offer your support and best wishes for this couple, wishing them the best of lives together? [If so, please answer "We do"]

Other ideas:
We have a few more ceremony ideas on our website: weddingsofnewyork.com, including a selection of readings/vows which feature equal partnerships between the couples.
Here is a list of modern wedding vows, which feature equality and commitment.

I especially like this Irish wedding vow:

You cannot possess me for I belong to myself
But while we both wish it, I give you that which is mine to give.
You cannot command me for I am a free person.
But I shall serve you in those ways you require
And the honeycomb will taste sweeter coming from my hand.
I pledge to you that yours will be the name I cry aloud in the night.
and the eyes into which I smile in the morning.
I pledge to you the first bite from my meat.
And the first drink from my cup.
I pledge to you my living, and my dying, equally in your care.
And tell no strangers our grievances.
This is my wedding vow to you
This is a marriage of equals.

and this one:

I [Name] take you,[Name],
to be no other than yourself
loving what I know of you
trusting what I do not yet know
with respect for your integrity
and faith in your love for me
through all our years
and in all that life may bring us.