Should the Bride’s Family Still Pay for the Wedding?

A recent Harris Poll finds that Americans believe in maintaining certain wedding traditions, while questioning others.

For instance, a full 84% of the respondents polled still believe that the bride’s father should “give her away” to her husband. However, a much smaller majority (54%) felt that the bride should be expected to wear a white dress.

A clear majority (66%) disagree with the practice of spending a lot of money on an engagement ring. An even bigger majority (83%) said they prefer small, intimate weddings, and that spending lots of money on an elaborate wedding is a waste.

And who should pay for the wedding? While tradition dictates that the bride’s family pay, Americans are split on the issue, with 53% of respondents agreeing with this tradition and 47% disagreeing.

From these results, it seems that most Americans still value “wedding traditionalism” but would like to shape those traditions to suit modern realities. If this seems like an impossible contradiction, consider that some of these traditions have already been shaped to suit changing times.

After all, the tradition of “giving away” the bride is rooted in a time when the legal status of women – as daughters or wives – was equivalent to property. We preserve aspects of this tradition for their emotional symbolism, though (thankfully) not as a symbol of legal transfer.

Some traditions need to be re-interpreted, rather than followed literally.


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