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Who Walks The Bride Down The Aisle When Parents Are Divorced?

If your parents are divorced, then one of those questions that you will likely have is whom should walk you down the aisle. What do other brides typically do, and what is the right decision? I spent some time to research the possibilities here and will be sharing with you all the I could find here today.

So, who walks the bride down the aisle when parents are divorced? Either the brides father, or the stepfather, can walk the bride down the aisle. Alternatively, both the father and stepfather can walk her down the aisle together. It is ultimately the brides decision whom she would like, and will depend on personal circumstances – such as how close the bride is with either father. Some brides cannot decide or choose instead to walk themselves down the aisle.

Getting married when your parents are divorced parents is not ideal; besides it a day where all the family come together. That being said, the day is all about celebrating your relationship with your partner, and with a little planning and consideration, there is no reason why your day should be adversely affected.

When it comes to whom the bride should have walk her; it will largely come down to gut reaction and instinct; what feels right, for her.

Let us now take a closer look at some of the practical implications of divorced parents, including where they should sit during both the ceremony and reception.

We will begin with why the father gives away the bride traditionally anyway, which should hope you to make a decision on what you can do.

Why Does The Father Give Away The Bride?

The father giving away his daughter is one of the oldest wedding traditions, and one that still remains for many. While it may seem dated to some, it is supposed to be a symbolic gesture.

Giving away the bride happens during the wedding ceremony; it is the moment the bride leaves her fathers side at the alter, having been walked down with him.

The bride then joins the groom, awaiting the imminent procession.

Unfortunately, the origins of the tradition also lie in the antiquated idea that women are the possession of men. Thus, giving away is the process of transferring ownership from the father to the new husband.

While this is definitely outdated and wrong, there is no reason why the father of the bride should no longer do be able to walk the bride down the aisle. Instead, we can perceive it in a very different, progressive way.

By walking his daughter down the aisle, the father is showing his love and support to the marriage, and inviting the groom to welcome his daughter into her family.

Does Your Dad Have To Walk You Down The Aisle?

The dad does not have to walk the bride down the aisle; it is ultimately the decision of the bride and what she would personally like.

Some brides decide to have both of their parents walk down the aisle, whereas other decide to walk themselves.

In some instances, it has even been known for the groom to walk their bride down the aisle, instead of meeting them at the alter.

Nevertheless, you should consider the feelings of your father and your circumstances.

It may very well be that the father would like to give his daughter away, or it could mean a lot to him to feel included in the ceremony itself.

If a bride has divorced parents, is no longer in contact with their biological father and has been brought up and is close with their stepfather, then it naturally follows that he can step in.

Alternatively, if a bride does not meet eye to eye with a stepfather, they can choose to have their biological father do the honors.

Lastly, if a bride were to get on well with both, and did not want to exclude or upset either stepfather or biological father, they could have both.

Where Do Divorced Parents Sit At A Wedding Ceremony?

Where divorced parents sit during the wedding ceremony entirely depends on whether they get on and whether the relationship is still amicable.

In the instance that they do get on, you can choose to sit them together in the front row.

However, if you know that this will not be possible, of that there could be tension, it is a good idea to keep them separated.

If you do decide to separate, you’ll want to put the brides mother (and stepfather if she has remarried) into the front row.

From there, members of the mothers immediate family, i.e. grandparents, spouses etc will sit immediately behind in the second and third rows.

The brides father, will then sit in the next row behind the brides mothers family (third or fourth row), with his partner (if he has remarried) and his family members. He will usually take up this position after walking his daughter down the aisle, if that tradition is followed.

If it is the grooms parents that are divorced, the same principles and process applies.

Where Do Divorced Parents Sit At A Wedding Reception?

It is tradition to have a top table at a wedding reception; whereby both the bride and groom are accompanied by their parents along with the maid of honor and best man.

However, in the event that either the bride or grooms parents are divorced, this seating arrangement will not likely work.

This is because, if any stepparents are in the equation, you will ultimately have to make a decision as to whom will make the top table and who will not. You do not want to have to make this call.

So it is advised that if divorced parents are involved, you consider dropping the idea of a top table altogether, if at all possible.

Instead, you can always consider having one long table where everyone can sit and feel included. You could then simply sit everyone around accordingly.

Alternatively, you could decide to have a top table where it is just you and your partner, i.e. the bride and groom. This is known as a ‘sweetheart table’ and does come with its benefits; namely you can spend time together during the wedding breakfast.

In this instance, the families could then be sat at their own respective tables. Perhaps not as ideal, but it does prevent any perceived favoritism.

Nevertheless, you should always have some form of seating arrangement in place. You do need to plan this and your guests will appreciate the direction.


Walking down the aisle is one of the most iconic moments of any wedding.

Traditionally, the father of the bride will walk his daughter to the groom. Although the origins of this tradition may seem backward, it is a responsibility that a father will likely cherish and it does mean something very different these days.

If your parents are divorced and you have a stepfather, then the decision will unlikely be an easy one. Nevertheless it is your decision and one that you will need to make.

Just remember:

  • Both your biological and stepfather can walk you down together,
  • You can walk down the aisle on your own.

You do have options and you will likely know what feels right instinctively.

Having those conversations with both your biological father and stepfather as early as possible are advised, although it will depend on your circumstances.

Nevertheless, what is ultimately important is the celebration of your wedding. When it comes to planning do all you can to accommodate any family politics, but consider that this is your day, and everyone should be respectful of that. Whatever it is that you choose or decide to do.

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