Some conventions and traditions of marriage and ceremonies are OK, but some of them are pretty stale, too. All week preceding the wedding, I thought mightily about that moment the pastor was going to ask me “Who gives this bride in marriage?” and how I could answer it in a more original and interesting way than “Her mother and I.”

By rehearsal night, the fount of invention was still dry, though. I had nothing. For a lark, and since everybody was laid back and having a good time, I quipped my reply to the pastor’s question: “She’s over 21; she can do what she wants.” Of course, I never thought that would be the right thing to say in the ceremony. Since no better idea had come along, I had resigned to the idea of answering with the cliché, “Her mother and I.”

Mr. and Mrs.: She's Brandon's wife, but we never gave her away.  She'll always be our little girl.

Mr. and Mrs.: She’s Brandon’s wife, but we never gave her away. But she does stand affirmed!

No more than 30 minutes before the ceremony, though, brother-in-law Bob, who’s a pastor and who’s also married off two daughters, told me how he had answered that question without giving his girls away. He said he affirmed their choice and commitment to the marriage of their respective spouses, and as a result, he never gave them away! He was proud to say that!

I’m sure Bob didn’t share that as a suggestion for me. In those moments before the ceremony, we were just making small-talk. But I found that idea captivating, so I retreated from the mingling crowd for a few moments to gather some thoughts and compose a draft in my head of how I would respond.

The moment in time came as we stood before the altar. The pastor asked, “Who gives this bride in marriage?” I responded, “Pastor, her mother and I affirm this union as evidence of God’s plan for hers and Brandon’s lives. Please marry them, with our blessing.”

My word-for-word recall is a little uncertain, but it was pretty close to that. And now I can declare, as my brother-in-law, that we married her off, but we never gave her away!