New Wedding Traditions for “Alternative” Families

Weddings are full of traditions, be it the bouquet toss, first dance, or even the ceremonial face full of cake. These traditions have been passed down from generations before us, with little variation from the customs and rituals that our parents and grandparents had at their wedding ceremonies. While these practices are what makes the whole event magical and timeless, society and families have changed and evolved since the time of our grandparents’ weddings.

Many soon-to-be-wed couples come from different family situations than their parents, be it divorced parents, step-parents, same-sex parents, single parents, or other parental figures that had an impact on their lives. These family situations can cause much unneeded stress to couples, from the tradition of asking the bride’s father for her hand in marriage, to the traditional father-daughter dance at the wedding reception. While it is important to remember that the wedding day belongs to the bride and groom, it is also a very special day for parents and family.

One dilemma many brides with alternative families face is who will be walking her down the aisle during the ceremony. Traditionally, this ritual is performed to signify the father of the bride literally passing “ownership” to the groom. I think we can all agree that although women are by no means owned by men and are perfectly capable of giving their own consent to be married, the tradition of a father walking his little girl down the aisle to her future husband is something many brides (and fathers) look forward to. But what happens when a bride has more than one significant father figure in her life? Or no father figure at all? There are many different options to keep in mind if couples are faced with this dilemma, and they can even make the special day even more magical.

Walking you down the aisle

If you are stuck between a rock and a hard place by choosing between your biological father and a stepfather who is a large part of your life to walk you down the aisle, you are not alone. Here are some tips to help you make that difficult decision:

  • If your stepfather has had a significantly larger role in your life, don’t be afraid to let him know and have him walk you down the aisle! Chances are, your biological father will be supportive of your decision and be aware of the impact your stepfather has had.
Bride walks down the aisle with two dads

Photo Source:

  • Have them both walk you down the aisle! If both men have offered you much love and support throughout your life, you are one lucky girl. If you know they would both love the honor, have one on either side as you walk down the aisle to meet your partner.
  • Have another significant man in your life walk you. If you have a brother, uncle, or grandfather who you are close with, they would certainly love to share this momentous occasion with you and help make it as magical as possible.
  • Mom to the rescue! I myself grew up with only my mom, and I can say with 110% confidence that she will be walking me down the aisle and giving me away at my wedding. If she has been there for you and served as a parent and a best friend, have her be the one to pass the torch to your partner-to-be.
  • Take the stroll solo. You do not have to be given away in the traditional sense, and can take the walk down the aisle all on your own. This way all eyes are on you and your stunning dress, and you don’t have to worry about hurting any feelings.

At the end of the day, your walk down the aisle to meet the love of your life should include someone who you know wants the best for you. Someone to accompany you as you start the next chapter of your life, and who has had a significant impact on making you the incredible woman you are today.

Traditional Father-Daughter Dance

The father-daughter dance is another wedding staple that can be difficult for brides who have more than one option with whom to share the special dance with. This dance traditionally happened first, with the father then passing the bride’s hand to her partner so they could take the first steps of life together on the dance floor. Now, it is more common for the newlyweds to have their first dance, then open up the celebration by having the traditional father-daughter dance. The same rules can apply for this decision as who is walking you down the aisle. Here are some other things to consider when planning your special dance:

  • If a father-daughter dance is not an option for you, have a brother, uncle, grandfather, cousin, etc. share the honor with you. Again, we are past the days of fathers passing ownership of the bride to her partner, so the father-daughter dance is now a wedding tradition that is open for interpretation.

This bride’s father passed away shortly before her wedding, and her brother had different men share the father-daughter dance with her while he sang “Butterfly Kisses”. Make sure you have a few (boxes) of tissue handy before watching this video.


  • Have a separate dance for both father and stepfather. Each man has had a different impact on your life, so each deserves their own special song that truly reflects how much you appreciate everything they’ve done. This takes up more time than one father-daughter dance, but the sentimental value and how much it means to your dads will be immeasurable.
  • If you don’t want to slow down your wedding reception, have one father-daughter dance that both men are a part of. You can begin the dance with one, and have the other cut in halfway through. Be sure to rehearse this beforehand to ensure a quick and smooth transition.

    Mom has untraditional mother-daughter dance at daughter's wedding

    Photo Source:

  • Again, as with the walk down the aisle, I will be sharing my “father”-daughter dance with my mom. What better way than through song to show my appreciation for all that she has done for me? And for those of you who are in the same boat as me, I can guarantee the song “The Best Day” by Taylor Swift will leave you choking back tears and punching your mom’s speed dial ASAP.

Ultimately, your wedding is a time to celebrate your love with family and friends, and appreciate all those who have helped shaped you into the beautiful woman you are today. In a time where family situations are all different and changing, it’s important to do what’s right for you and remember that no wedding tradition is set in stone. So whether you want to walk down the aisle with your dad, mom, stepfather, or solo to the tune of “Eye of the Tiger” – you have complete creative control.


Today’s blog brought to you by : Kyla Tymchen

Kyla is originally from Saskatchewan, having relocated to Toronto to expand her horizons and be a part of the booming events industry. With a friendly and positive disposition she is a talented problem solver, coming up with creative solutions to any problem she is faced with. She has extensive experience in the hospitality industry, having worked at Saskatchewan’s largest event venue for a number of years, and served as the Special Events Coordinator with the Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival. With a passion for learning and innovation, she is not afraid to go above and beyond to make sure that every event is absolutely perfect.