I’ll admit, from the moment I even started thinking about being engaged, I also started thinking about the elephant in the room, or church, that was going to be present. My dad passed away two weeks shy of my college graduation, and though I’m so thankful he was able to meet and approve of and love my now-husband before his passing, it still hurt deeply knowing he wouldn’t be there to walk me down the aisle.
So many people await that shining moment of the big church doors swinging open and the father of the bride beaming while he cautiously walks his little girl down the aisle. Of course it’s not everyone’s dream, but it was for me. Other people in this situation find another family member or close friend to do the honors. But I decided that for my wedding, I would walk myself down the aisle. Here’s why.
The first question people ask you when they learn your dad is unable to walk you down the aisle is who will? Are you going to have so-and-so do it instead? What about a cousin? Your mother? An uncle? But no one could replace my dad in my vision of that day, and so I decided not to even try. Listen up, people: nowhere in the guide of executing a perfect wedding does it say you have to have someone walk you down the aisle. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to wear high heels, a heavy wedding gown and still make it to the front of the church without tripping, or sobbing. Will it be easy? Probably not. But hey, they say marriage isn’t easy, so why start with the walk. And if you want to have someone help you down, it’s your day. But if you don’t, that’s okay, too, just remember it’s your choice, and people will understand that.
Some people thought of it as an act of protest, or some reason to show pity. But it doesn’t need to be! Think of what that act is. Really think about it and the meaning. You’re about to walk yourself down the aisle, beginning the next and biggest part of your life, with someone you love more than anything in the world. That’s powerful! And by doing it on your own, you can show your friends and family that you’re strong, and beautiful, and brave. None of those attributes exude pity, but all of them demand respect.
I had said all along that I’d be walking myself down the aisle. That no one could come close to replacing my dad, and that I wanted to prove to him that I was strong and could do this on my own. But I was still scared out of my mind. Up until the week-of, internally, I was nervous. I even asked two of my closest girlfriends to stay back with me and make sure I could do it when those doors opened.
And you know what happened? I did. On my own, I made it happen. Looking back to that moment, it truly was easier than I had worried it would be. A combination of feeling this amazing strength, which I believed stemmed from faith and a guardian angel looking down, and leading to a wonderful sense of peace. “The walk” wasn’t filled with anxiety or worry, but with a calmness, then excitement, looking up to my soon-to-be husband at the alter. My dad would be happy, and most of all, proud.
Molly Essell is a 26-year-old self-proclaimed “YOLO’er” living post-grad married life in her hometown of Cincinnati, a place she considers only second to her undergrad home of Athens, Ohio. Her passion for bringing light to young women in the world of breast cancer is chronicled in her blog themollyeffect.com.
[Image via Universal Pictures]