When Meghan Markle decided to enter St. George’s Chapel alone at the royal wedding, people were in awe. Markle walked herself down the aisle—a first for any royal British bride—before joining Prince Charles, her now-husband’s father. It was a historic moment, and one that mirrored a lot of other women’s own experiences.
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Below, three women explain why they, too, walked down the aisle alone, and how they felt when it was all over.
I can take care of myself, and walking alone felt like the surest physical way to show that.
“I walked down the aisle alone. My parents divorced when I was very young, and I knew it would hurt my mother’s feelings terribly if I only had my father walk me. Aesthetically, I didn’t want the look of people on either side of me, and we’d be squeezed awkwardly down the aisle at the old chapel where I got married.
So many elements of your wedding are about not hurting other people’s feelings, and walking solo felt like the best way to not have anyone feel offended or discarded. I’ve never identified as a ‘daddy’s little princess’ type of girl, and the tradition of being given away doesn’t square with me. I got married in my late ‘20s and had lived with my husband for a few years (we had a dog daughter together already!). The decision to get married was us, as two adults, deciding something—I wasn’t going from having my father take care of me to having my husband take care of me. I can take care of myself, and walking alone felt like the surest physical way to show that.” —Leah Melby Clinton
I’d always felt the tradition wasn’t really for me.
“My parents didn’t support my decision to marry my wife, Katie, for religious reasons, so I knew many months in advance that I would be walking down the aisle solo. I’d never been a ‘daddy’s girl’ so the idea of walking down on my own didn’t bother me so much; I’d always felt the tradition wasn’t really for me. Alternatively, Katie is very close to both of her parents and it was deeply important to her to have her parents walk her down the aisle.
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We had an outdoor ceremony in a garden and arranged the chairs to create three aisles. Then we simultaneously walked down the far right and far left aisles, Katie, with her parents on either side, and me, solo. We met at the front for the ceremony then walked out the middle together at the end. It was pretty cool, symbolic of our own journeys and the significance of that moment, of joining together and starting a new future side by side—exactly what we wanted.
I remember feeling calm, steady, empowered, and—as vain as it might sound—really beautiful in my princess gown. I remember smiling and being really happy. I’ve never doubted that it was the right decision for me.” —Abby Sherwood
I carried a single red rose in my all white bouquet in honor of my dad.
“I walked down the aisle alone in 2013. My dad passed away in 2006 after being diagnosed with colon cancer. I was a sophomore at Boston University when he died. My mom remarried and I love my stepdad, but felt like the walk down the aisle was reserved for my real dad. I carried a single red rose in my all white bouquet in honor of my dad. I put the rose on an empty chair in the front row next to my mom before meeting my now-husband at the altar. We explained what the rose meant and what I was doing in our wedding program. My dad couldn’t physically be there that day, but I always carry him in my heart. My mom told me after the wedding she had been praying that we would feel my dad’s presence on my wedding day. She also prayed for sunny and 75 degree weather… not something you normally get in September in Memphis, Tennessee. We got sunny and 78. I like to think my dad had something to do with that.
Walking down the aisle alone felt right. I walked really, really slowly, so I could soak in every second. I felt blessed, loved, and thankful for the opportunity to marry my love and be surrounded by so many incredible people. The day was perfect.” —Mallory Cooke