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Fatherless brides. We can easily overlook how difficult the big day can be for brides who have lost a parent, or any member of their immediate family. As little girls, we all imagine that our entire family will be at our weddings. Honestly, we imagine anyone we’ve ever met will be there (because we don’t know much about wedding budgets and travel logistics when we are children). If your wedding is approaching, and you no longer have your father, you’re faced with the tough decision: who will walk you down the aisle? That moment—the walk down the aisle—changes when you don’t have your dad. Rather than it just being a moment of joy, and a symbol of families joining, it will be a moment in which you notice an absence. You’ll particularly want someone who provides you enormous comfort and support to help you through it. Here are 15 amazing substitutes when you don’t have a dad to walk you down the aisle.

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Your mom

When your parents were together, they were a unit, and as such, your dad is a part of your mom. Your dad will always be a part of your mother so if she walks you down the aisle, in a way, he will too. Also, your mother has been a tremendous support and role model and would be glad to give you away.

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Your soon to be father-in-law

In a beautiful, symbolic moment, have your father-in-law walk you down the aisle. He has already agreed to welcome you into the family and treat you like his own daughter. Now is his chance to really step in.

Both of your soon-to-be in-laws

Should you really need the reminder that you do still have family, a large network of people who love you, and even a growing one at that, have both of your soon-to-be in-laws walk you down the aisle.

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Your dad’s brother

There’s no love like that of an uncle for his niece. When your dad had you, his brother was instantly shocked by how much he loved you, right away. You are your uncle’s connection to his late brother, and he’d probably be happy to step in for your father.

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Your dad’s best friend

If you do not have an uncle, turn to your dad’s best friend. He has probably looked over you like a daughter of his own over the years, or been a pseudo-uncle. You are also one of his last connections to his late friend.

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Your sibling

This moment is a difficult one for both you and your sibling. Your sibling is one of the only other people in this world who experiences this loss in the same way you do. It could be good to join together for the walk.

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Your grandfather on your dad’s side

There isn’t a room large enough in the world to contain the love a grandparent has for his grandchild. From the moment you were born, your grandpa was just as protective of you as your own father was and he will feel very natural giving you away.

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Your fiancé

You are joining lives, after all, and forming a real partnership. Your groom will support you through everything in life from this day forward, so why not start with this tough walk?

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Your stepfather

If your parents divorced and your mom remarried, your stepfather might be very touched if you ask him to walk you down the aisle. It could be a gesture that makes him feel genuinely welcomed into the family.

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Your father’s memory

You could place a small photo of your father on your bouquet, and bring him down the aisle with you in that way. If he had a favorite item that people associated him with—it could even be something funny like a power tool—you could bring that, too.

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The rest of your immediate family

Should you need all the strength you can get for this walk, have your whole family take you down the aisle. Your mother, uncles and aunts, and any siblings will make great escorts.

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The family dog

If your dad was especially attached to the family dog, then walking down the aisle with the pup could be a nice way to pay your dad homage.

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Walk solo

Maybe nobody can replace your father, and walking down the aisle alone communicates that message.

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Your best friend

Your best friend has been there for you through everything, including the loss of your father. She has really been a surrogate life partner, supporting you until you met the one.

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Your godfather

Your parents chose your godfather for a reason—they felt that he would be the best at looking after you, should anything have happened to them. Maybe this is exactly who your father would like to walk you down the aisle.

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