There’s something about the bond between a dad and his daughter, so it’s no surprise that there are a number of special wedding traditions that center on this special relationship. Some of the most emotionally charged moments – aside from those between the bride and groom, of course – include the father/daughter dance and the giving away of the bride by her father in the ceremony. The origin of the latter, however, harks back to the days of arranged marriages, when fathers gave their daughters away as property in exchange for a dowry. Nowadays the meaning is much less offensive to women, as it’s considered a symbol of the father’s blessing of the union. The father/daughter dance is also a way for the dad to give away his daughter and to say his goodbyes as her husband becomes the new main man in her life. At American weddings, fathers also traditionally say a toast to the bride and groom at the reception.
Depending on your culture or religion, there is a wide variety of traditions involving the bride’s dad. At Argentinean weddings, the bride is escorted by her father down the aisle, but instead of bridesmaids and groomsmen, the couple’s parents and godparents are the only ones at their side for the ceremony. Jewish weddings have many traditions for the father of the bride to take part in, including the groom’s tisch, in which the men sing and drink, and the father of the bride, together with the groom, signs the ketubah. During Indian wedding ceremonies, the parents of the bride wash the feet of the bride and groom with milk and water to symbolize their purification before marriage. And at Muslim weddings, the tradition of the bride’s father giving her away to the groom is called rukhsat. But perhaps the most unusual tradition occurs at wedding ceremonies in the Maasai nation of Kenya, in which the father of the bride gives his blessing by spitting on the bride’s head and breasts.