Friday, May 21, 2010

Swedish Bishop in an uproar over Victoria's decision to have her father escort her down the aisle

It should be noted that in Sweden, the father of the bride does not escort her down the aisle. This tradition is largely Anglo-Saxon, or indeed, Anglo-American. In Sweden, the bride and groom walk down the aisle together, which is a very fine tradition. The Swedish church, views the Anglo-American tradition "as a foreign anachronism with sexist overtones." Huh. I am am an independent woman, but when I got married in 1995, I asked my uncle to walk me down the aisle. I was married in a Lutheran church, where the wedding service includes: "who gives this woman in marriage," to which my stepmother stood up and said, "I do, on behalf of Marlene's mother and father." My parents dies in 1979 and 1990, respectively, so my dad did not have the opportunity to walk me down the aisle. I asked my uncle, the father of fours sons, and he was thrilled to bits.

When it was common for marriages to be arranged, the father walked the bride down the aisle in order to give his daughter to her husband. Women were property, which meant the father's presence included the handing over of the daughter. Of course, this no longer happens, but the tradition remains. It's a tradition. Dads love it. So do daughters. But it is not set in stone. A bride can choose to walk alone, or if her father is deceased or not in her life, she can ask someone else -- her mother, a brother, a friend, another male relative.
When I got married, I wore a veil, and when my uncle and I arrived at the altar, where Bill and his best man were waiting, my uncle lifted up the veil and pulled it over my head to reveal my face. This is a tradition, a very old tradition in fact. One of the consequences of the arranged marriages was that the groom did not see the bride until she arrived at the altar, thus the unveiling. Today, brides in the United Kingdom and North America choose whether they want the veil to cover their face. Lady Diana Spencer was veiled when she and father walked down the aisle.
IN the United States, the bridal attendants - the flower girls, the page boys, the ring bearers, the bridesmaids and the maid or matron of honor along with the groomsmen all proceed down the aisle before the bride. The bride and her dad come last, and when they walk down the aisle, the congregation stands. I have never liked this tradition, as it reminds me of a fashion show.
Bridesmaids are also known as bridal attendants, which means they attend the bride. This tradition grew out of a bride's need to be protected on her wedding day. The bride and her attendants would all be dressed the same, and all were veiled; thus, if someone tried to kidnap the bride on her wedding day, he would not know who was the bride.
In the United Kingdom, the tradition is for the bride to be followed by her attendants. This is what chose to do when I got married.
Although Philippa of England (1394-1430) may have been the first princess to wear white on her wedding. The daughter of Henry IV and Mary de Bohun, Philippa was married in 1406 to Eric of Pomerania. She wore a gown with a cloak made from white silk, which was trimmed with grey squirrel and ermine. But white was not the usual choice of a bride, until 1840, when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. She wore a white gown, and, thus, a tradition was born. (White was the color of christening gowns, as blue, not white, represented purity.)
A number of Europeans have scoffed at Victoria's decision to have her father walk her down the aisle. Her aunt, Princess Margaretha, was escorted by her grandfather, King Gustaf VI Adolf, when she married John Ambler in 1964.
There appears to be -- for wont of a better word - a snooty, look-down-your-nose at the Anglo-American tradition. One European -- let's call him Henry -- likened this tradition to something produced by Walt Disney. For one thing, Henry, most of the Disney princesses are fatherless, and usually head down the aisle sans father or other male relative. For another, Disney is a very successful corporation. (I do hate when someone uses the expression "Micky Mouse operation" in a negative manner. Mickey Mouse is very, very successful, and thus, the expression should be seen as a compliment.)
Henry, of course, doesn't see things this way. His nose scrapes the sky, and he denigrates what is a very fine tradition. It's a tradition, and should be acknowledged as such.
As for the head of the Church of Sweden, Anders Wejrd, he really should re-think his comments. Unlike Lutheran pastors in the United States, whose benefit packages are covered by their congregations, his salary is paid by the taxpayer. He should be more concerned with theology and figuring out how to get more bums in the pews, and not challenging the wishes of a bride-to-be, who happens to be the heiress apparent. It is Crown Princess Victoria's choice. Her great-grandmother, Princess Margaret of Connaught, was escorted down the aisle, when she married Hereditary Prince Gustaf Adolf in 1906. The wedding took place at St. George's Chapel, Windsor, but, nonetheless, Victoria may have wanted to use this tradition merely because she liked it. She is her own woman, and she is a future queen. June 19, 2010 is Victoria's wedding day, and she is the star of the show.
I can only imagine what Henry would think if Daniel announced that he wanted a groom's cake (as well as the wedding cake.) Grooms' cakes are a Southern tradition here in the United States. Bill and I chose to have the groom's cake at the rehearsal dinner. This, too, is an American tradition, and usually paid for by the groom's parents. The bride-to-be and the groom, their parents, and immediate family, and the bridal party, usually go to dinner at a restaurant following the wedding rehearsal, which is the day before the wedding. Bill and I chose to have a pizza party -- and the groom's cake -- at my apartment. By 8 p.m., my bridesmaids and I kicked everyone else out, and we watched "Four Weddings and a Funeral."

Note to the super snob Henry: white doves at weddings came long before Hollywood. Such a silly boy. Henry also insults millions of independent American brides who CHOOSE to be escorted down the aisle. It is a choice. Henry is a selfish, sexist, preening peacock.


Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Eric of Pomerania who married Philippa of England was King of Norway, Denmark and Sweden as well as Duke of Pomerania.

Eurohistory said...

Oh for the Love of Yahve...what business is it of the blessed bishop to interfere on how the young lady wants to enter the idiotic!

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Didn't you read the article? Walking down the aisle is not a Swedish tradition. During the 20th century it has been known to occur in English inspired circles. My own parents did it in 1950, but it is not the Swedish tradition and alien to every thing the Church of Sweden wants to stand for. It's the last vestige of the ceremonial burning of the Bridal cart in Roman times.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Yes, I read the article. I wrote that it was not a tradition. But there is nothing sexist or inequality about a bride being walked down the aisle. However, it is the bride's prerogative to do what she wants on her wedding day. Are you suggesting that American and British weddings are sexist and the brides unequal by walking down the aisle with their dads or another relative or even their mothers. A friend of mine was escorted by her dad and her stepdad. It is not a tradition in the US to have the bride walk down the aisle first --that's done in the UK, but I chose to do it. My minister, a Lutheran pastor, rolled his eyes.

I think your Bishop should be more concerned with finding ways to fill the pews on Sundays than make un-Christian comments about a bride's desire.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Customs vary.

Yours is as alien to us (generally, though as I said my parents did it in a Carnegie built chapel in Gothenburg in 1950) as ours is to you.

The former Bishop of Stockholm was very much against "walking down the aisle". Perhaps someone should have asked a few questions first.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

But traditions are merely that .. traditions .. not set in stone. It is the bride's wish to walk down the aisle with the King. I would think that the Bishop would be more concerned with getting the message out about Christ to more Swedes -- and at least half of the Swedes do not get married.
I told my Pastor about this - and he rolled his eyes, which is what he did when I said I was going to walk down the aisle first, and my attendants to follow. That's not an American tradition. It's British, but my pastor said okay, but he did roll his eyes.

Here is a bride who did not come down the aisle with dad a Lutheran church

The Bishop should be more concerned with filling the pews!!

Anonymous said...

How did Victoria's father walk her down the isle? He had been dead for years.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Linda, The King of Sweden is not deceased. The article was about Crown Princess Victoria, the heiress apparent to her father.

Unknown said...

I enjoyed reading it. I'm supposed to be somewhere else in a minute but I stuck to reading the story. I like the quality of your blog