WA brides no longer honouring wedding traditions, ditching dad at the altar

Rhianna Mitchell, Social Affairs EditorThe West Australian
Felicity Lyall and bridesmaids.
Camera IconFelicity Lyall and bridesmaids. Credit: Adam Levi Browne Photography

WA brides are no longer honouring or obeying wedding traditions and are writing their own rules, with a growing number ditching their dads and walking solo down the aisle.

Just as church weddings are falling in popularity — now accounting for one-fifth of weddings in Australia — the long-held wedding tradition of a father “giving away” his daughter to her future husband is also declining.

Jade Hawley is getting married in four weeks and will be walking down the aisle herself.
Camera IconJade Hawley is getting married in four weeks and will be walking down the aisle herself. Credit: Daniel Wilkins

Baldivis bride-to-be Jade Hawley will marry her partner Joel on their 10th anniversary next month and will walk down the aisle alone.

“It’s the 21st century and getting married is my choice,” the personal trainer said. “I don’t want someone else to give me away. Both my parents were happy with my decision.

“A lot of people have been surprised because it’s so ingrained in our society.”

Busselton mother-of-two Jenna Kendle also did not like the idea of being “given” from one man to another.

She walked down an aisle — a bush track outside Manjimup — alongside her husband Liam and their daughter, Matilda.

“I’m my own person, I’m not someone’s property,” she said.

“I don’t like that tradition. Dad was a bit miffed but he’s got four daughters so he will walk another one down the aisle.”

The couple also got ready for the ceremony together, decided against a bridal party and Mrs Kendle carried a parasol down the aisle instead of a bouquet.

“Yes we need friends’ support, but I don’t feel right about other people standing there next to us, as this is about us, it’s about our family,” she said.

Kelly Smith was married last weekend in front of immediate family before celebrating with a bigger group at a reception. She asked her mother to walk her down the aisle. “Dad was there; I don’t have a bad relationship with my dad or anything but I’m very close with my mum and I felt like she earned that privilege,” she said.

Wedding celebrant Dilhari Mahiepala said she had seen a big departure from wedding traditions in recent years.

“I’ve had brides walk by themselves, brides walked by both parents. Brides are a lot more independent and sure of themselves and what they want,” she said.

Vows had also shifted from the traditional “honour and obey” promise to more personal and informal pledges, she said. And fewer brides were taking their husbands’ surnames, with the number of name changes in WA falling from 5372 in 2014 to 4102 last year.

Felicity Lyall with husband Jake.
Camera IconFelicity Lyall with husband Jake. Credit: Adam Levi Browne Photography

And brides are opting for coloured dresses and head pieces instead of a white gown and veil. Global search platform Lyst released its wedding report this week and found more brides were opting for two wedding dresses, dresses with pockets or colourful gowns. It said brides were taking their inspiration from social media and the red carpet.

Felicity Lyall was married at Guildhall in Fremantle last year wearing a gold, v-neck tulle gown covered with gold and silver sequin stars and a gold crown.

“I wanted something different, but still very special. When else are you going to wear a crown?”

She changed into a white, sequinned jumpsuit for her bridal dance — a choreographed dance to Shake Your Groove Thing.

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