How to Escort a Bride
There is an epidemic sweeping the bridal industry. It knows no bounds, affects weddings of all sizes and cultural traditions. It is insidious, negates the atmosphere and mood so painstakingly created by many people, months in advance. And it is public. Easily seen, and forever captured on film.
I’m talking about a poorly escorted bride.
I know this falls under the category of No Big Deal for many people. I’d even hazard a guess that it’s deep in the NBD file for most people. But we are wedding lovers. No detail escapes our notice. And a bride who is poorly escorted or, worse, actually does the escorting herself, simply cannot be tolerated. Frankly, I’m baffled that wedding planners and coordinators don’t fix this problem at the rehearsal.
After all, the bride’s procession is THE defining moment in most weddings. Yes, it SHOULD be the exchange of vows, the kiss, etc… but ask a five-year-old girl what she looks forward to most about her wedding, and she’s not going to tell you about the wonderful excitement of committing herself to another person for the rest of her life. She’s going to tell you about the moment the doors open and all the guests turn to look at her, as she slowly makes her way down the aisle.
A poorly escorted bride is just awkward. She and her escorts are dressed to the nines, she’s carrying a beautiful bouquet, and she’s spent hours getting made up for this very moment. It only takes an awkward grip on her father’s arm to ruin this image. The importance of proper escort technique cannot be overstated.
The solution is simple, and easily adapted to any cultural, religious, or personal preferences.
So, here is a crash course on properly escorting a bride, in all situations and configurations.
The bride escorted by her father
This is the older tradition, symbolic of the bride being given by her father to her new husband. However, the following guidelines will work well if the bride is being escorted by her mother, or any other person of importance in her wedding.
- Escort holds his arm at a right angle, brings his forearm across his ribs.
- Escort makes a loose fist, palm against his torso.
- Bride holds Escort’s biceps in right hand, her bouquet in the left hand.
See? Simple! Elegant! This is how a lady should always be escorted.
Things to Avoid:
- No linking of arms. The bride’s elbow should be down and back. This will help ensure that she and her escort walk comfortably and without any teetering, side-to-side effect. The bride should walk directly next to, or slightly behind her escort.
- The bride should never thread her arm through her escort’s and join her hands to hold her bouquet. It will pull her shoulders forward and down, effectively hunching her.
The Bride Escorted by Two Parents
This is the traditional escort in more than one faith (most recognizably Judaism), but is becoming more common across the board. Brides want their mothers to give them away, just as much as their fathers. Or, a bride may want both a blood parent and step parent to be involved in the procession. There are multiple ways to handle this. If the bride wants two sets of parents to walk her down the aisle, the simplest way to do so is to start the procession with one set of parents, and finish it with the other set. This would be still be a three-person procession, in two parts.
However, a three-person procession can very quickly go awry.
This just looks wrong, doesn’t it? And it will feel wrong too, as the bride will literally be a few inches ahead of her escorts, looking like she is leading them down the aisle. And, again: this position pulls her shoulders forward and hunches them.
There are two solutions:
- the bride will hold on to both of her escorts’ biceps, while the second escort holds her bouquet in his/her free hand. S/He will give it to her when the procession has ended.
- the bride will hold on to one escort, holding her bouquet in her free hand. The second escort will take the bride’s elbow or put his/her hand in the small of the bride’s back. The second escort may also hold the bride’s hand, and carry her bouquet until the procession is over.
And there you have it! Simple, easy and elegant solutions to all the escort problems. Be sure to practice before the big day. Nerves can make even the most elegant and well-mannered people do strange things with their limbs.