As An Independent Bride, I Refused To Let My Father 'Give Me Away'

I don’t belong to my father, and I won’t belong to my husband.

bride embracing no one giving her away because she is not owned hxyume via Canva | Irina_Timokhina via Canva | Hakan Kiziltan via Canva

I got married when I was nineteen years old. As I tell anyone who will listen, getting married so young was a terrible idea. Even then, I knew it was a terrible idea. I barreled forward with it anyhow.

We had a non-traditional wedding. There was no fancy ceremony in a church. Instead, we commissioned a justice of the peace to marry us in the backyard of my mother-in-law’s house.

When the justice of the peace asked me who was walking me down the aisle and "giving me away," I hesitated. It wasn’t something I had thought about.


How could someone give me away if I wasn’t theirs to give? Wasn’t I an independent woman?

My parents and I have always been close; my mother and father raised me. According to tradition, it should have been my father who gave me away. There was only one problem. I didn’t belong to my father, and I wouldn’t belong to my husband. Maybe that’s two problems.

The idea of allowing one man to give me away to another felt wrong. I am not property. I don’t wish to be given away, traded, or exchanged.

So I told the justice of the peace that no one would be giving me away at the wedding.

"I don’t belong to my father, and I won’t belong to my husband," I said. He seemed surprised but nodded his head.


We also omitted the whole slow march down the aisle thing. That was my idea, too.

On the day of the wedding, my husband and I met with his best man, my maid of honor, and the justice of the peace, in front of our guests. All at once. No marching was required.

In the middle of the ceremony, when the justice of the peace would have said, "Who gives this woman away to be married to this man?" he leaned in and shouted, "You’re not having anyone give you away. Right?" I nodded my head. "That’s right," I said in a small voice. The justice of the peace continued the ceremony, but I felt rattled. 

Omitting that portion of the ceremony felt natural to me. Announcing that I was omitting it did not.


Don’t get me wrong. I stand by my decision now as a divorced woman, as I stood by it then as a hopeful bride. I just wish things had gone a little more smoothly.

Following my divorce four and a half years later, I moved back into my father’s house. It’s a good thing I didn’t let him give me away because my husband would have had to give me right back.

Tracey Folly is a writer who has been contributing lifestyle and relationship content to the Internet since 2009.