The most common thing I see is having someone else besides your father escort you. Moms, grandparents, siblings, good friends, and even your best friend Fido all make for excellent escorts. Instead of having the traditional perspective that the person walking down the aisle is "giving you away," you may want to think of it more as the person who is walking you down the aisle is supporting you through this life transition. This simple shift in perspective opens up the possibilities of who can escort you down the aisle to anyone who has been a support in your life.
The second most common thing I see is the the couple walking down the aisle together. It's really beautiful to watch the couple enter into the ceremony arm and arm, and it definitely removes some of the gender role traditions from the ceremony. This approach can be liberating for couples who find the traditional gender roles limiting, or not befitting of their relationship.
If you, however, are looking to ditch the traditional aisle walk completely, andplan your wedding ceremony the way you want it to be, here are a few creative alternatives for your wedding ceremony.
1. Make a bouquet during your walk down the aisle
One way to get down the aisle is to have guests hold flowers at their seats, and give them to you to collect as you walk down the aisle. This allows you to stop and greet the most important people in your life as you make your way to the front. The ability to talk to people as you go mixed with taking your time getting to the ceremony space definitely creates a more relaxed atmosphere, and you end up with a bouquet that your guests have contributed to that symbolizes their love and support for you. My eyes are watering just thinking about it.
2. Have a ceremony circle
Circle ceremonies are becoming more and more popular as couples try out new creative ceremony seating ideas. One wedding venue I partner with, theIntervale Center in Burlington, Vermont, has a ceremony area that's called the "The Garden Circle," and there are circle ceremony ideas all over Pinterest. There are a couple different options when it comes to circle ceremonies: you can arrange guests in a spiral and walk through the spiral to get to the center, or you can have guests gather in a circle and leave two spots open for you and your partner, which you fill when the ceremony starts.
3. Mingle in the crowd, and make your way to the front
This idea comes from the blog 2000 Dollar Wedding, which is a personal favorite of mine. Sara Cotner, the bride and blogger, explains it best:
"So, we did the only thing that made sense for us as couple: We pulled up to the ceremony site in my Toyota Scion xA (I was driving) and got out. We walked toward the crowd that had started to gather and simply started talking to people. Easy peasy...When it was time to start, we pressed play on our iPod, and everyone in the wedding party made their way to the front. When we were there, someone stopped the music and the ceremony started.It's as simple as that."
4. Have your guests enter your ceremony space after you
Another way to start your ceremony is by keeping the ceremony space closed off and out of view of guests. Before the ceremony starts, you, your partner, and wedding party can be at the front of the ceremony space, and then guests enter afterward. I haven't seen this one done yet, but it could certainly be as formal or relaxed as you like. You could simply direct guests to find their seats when they enter, or they could come up and say "hello" before taking their seats, which would create a more social atmosphere.
5. Lead all the guests in a processional to the ceremony space
At one ceremony we coordinated this summer, guests lined up a couple hundred feet or so from the ceremony space, and then walked to the ceremony space with the wedding party in front. A fiddler accompanied them as they walked to the ceremony space, and it was truly a beautiful, community-focused way to start the ceremony. There were no seats (the group of guests gathered around the couple at the ceremony space), and the fiddler played at the outskirts of the group. It was festive, fun, and ameaningful way to personalize a wedding ceremony.
What's great about weddings today is that there are no hard and fast rules, so feel free to use one of these alternatives to walking down the aisle, or come up with your own. If at the end of the day you're married to the one you love, it won't matter just how you got there.