Aug 282013 13 Responses

Why We Should Still Give Away the Bride

“Who gives this woman to be this man’s bride?”

Is there a more sexist line possible?

The “Giving of the Bride” originated in a time of arranged marriages and from an era when women were seen as property.

In those days, a wedding was a financial transaction.

The woman came with a price.

The groom paid the price and the father of the bride gave her away.

Because of its sexist roots, many brides are ending the tradition.

But in so doing, we are losing a beautiful picture.

Long ago, the price of a bride was erased.

When my father-in-law walked Jenny down the aisle, he and I had not negotiated a piece of property, number of livestock, or a cash number which I would pay him.

The fact is, any price I could’ve paid for his daughter would not have been enough.

No price was set, but one expectation was given—I was to love her as he loved her.

If I was willing to make that promise, he was willing to give her to me.

It was a high bar.

I had watched him. I knew of his love. I never doubted his devotion.

He loved his daughter as much as anything in the world. He expected me to do the same.

I was willing, so he GAVE her to me.

She was (and is) a gift.

  • She’s not an entitlement.
  • She’s not a right.
  • She’s not my just rewards.

She is a gift and I should treat her as such.

At no point, should I forget that she was given to me.

I should honor her and respect her with with a constant memory of the faith her father placed in me to give her to me.

I should remember from where he received her. He gave me someone who had been given to him.

He knows better than anyone what it is like to receive her as a gift.

Just as God gave Jenny to my father-in-law, so God gave Jenny to me.

At our wedding, when my father-in-law gave her to me, he was representing not only himself, but God.

He was there to remind me to forever see my wife as a gift from God.

For as long as grooms see their brides as gifts, marriages thrive.

A gift is protected, treasured, cherished, loved, and forever adored.

It is when a husband loses sight of the true nature of his wife that marriages deteriorate.

When our wives become someone we deserve, or even worse, when we think we deserve better than them, we no longer treat them as a gift.

  • We ignore them.
  • We take advantage of them.
  • We cheat on them.
  • We grow apathetic toward them.

You can spot it with ease. Watch how a man (or if a man) looks at his wife. Watch how he talks of her. Watch how cares for her.

It’s a clear difference when he sees her as a gift compared to seeing her as something which he deserves.

I understand why the “Giving of the Bride” is a tradition which many couples are choosing to ignore. I don’t blame them. However, whenever I do a wedding I still encourage it. I want to be able to look the groom in the eye and remind him of the true nature of the moment. He is being given someone he does not deserve and he should forever see her as such.

Do you see your wife as a gift or have you grown cold to the reality of her true nature?

Worried that the “Giving of the Bride” is sexist? Watch this:

Cover photo by Mark Jones – Cropped from Flickr version:, CC BY 2.0,

13 Responses to Why We Should Still Give Away the Bride
  1. martysloan Reply

    Good post! Could use more husbands that see their role as a steward of another’s life creation and investment… sadly this ties us back to the absence of strong fathers and the now culture of irresponsible husbands! Marriage is a stewardship! Again great post! Did a wedding years ago where the bride had NO family…. (long story) anyway she asked that the entire congregation “verbally present and give her in marriage” it was pretty neat!

  2. Phillip McClure Reply


    I have begun inserting a moment honoring the groom’s parents/family and what they invested in his life. And asking if they too ‘bless’ the marriage.
    Thus allowing for both families to ‘bless’ the union of those two people choosing to treat each other as the ‘gift’ they are from God (and their families) to each other.

  3. Colin Reply

    All husbands need to be reminded of this. Thanks.

  4. Tim Tidwell Reply

    I agree completely Kevin, men should treat their wives as a gift they are. I believe giving the daughter away to marriage is a right of the father, shows respect to the man that raised her.

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  8. Brian Reply

    No matter how you re-imagine it, it’s still sexist. I’d buy the “gift” part if mothers were also giving away their sons as a gift to the woman.

  9. Amy Molyneux Reply

    You still refer to the woman as being a ‘gift’. A gift is something that is owned by one person and with their permission is given to another as their property. The idea that it is still a father’s role is still hugely sexist as there is no mention of the mother. Mothers do not give their sons away to their new wife.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      All metaphors break down eventually. The point of the “gift” is not ownership, but preciousness. At weddings, as I’m doing this part, I mention to the groom that the bride’s parents are giving her to him and I say to the bride that the groom’s parents are giving him to her.

  10. Dave Reply

    So why didn’t your mother give you asay.?

  11. Debra Reply

    She may be a gift but She is not her father’s to gift to give away she is a gift that she should be giving from perspective. Just as you should be a gift that you are giving to her.

  12. Jane L Starkenberg-Cook Reply

    I agree with Dave. Why don’t we play “catch up” by letting the groom’s mother give him away. Turn around is fair play!

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