What adjective could I use to describe the typical ‘Western’ wedding custom, whereby the father of the bride gives his daughter away? I need an adjective that describes this tradition, in order to distinguish it from weddings of other cultural traditions.

Today, "giving the bride away" has a very different meaning. The bride's father accompanies her on her walk down the aisle to show approval of the groom. Centuries ago, fathers actually did give their daughters away to their future husbands, since females were property of their fathers
Wikipedia: Weddings in the US

I am reluctant to use "European" because of some European exceptions, e.g. Frisian culture.

Would "Roman" or "Feudal" be appropriate here? I found an answer on a Wikipedia article: Pater familias wherein the term "manus marriage" is used, I believe this has the meaning I require. Would the Latin expression, manus marriage, be understood by native speakers? Is it used today?

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    There are many different types of wedding in Western society. I assume you refer either to a Christian wedding, or a secular wedding which draws upon a Christian tradition; as opposed to a Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist wedding. I'm not sure there is a name which covers this. If I were needing to make the point I might say something like: The couple surprised their Indian relatives by going for a western-style wedding at Rotherham register office. Or you could say secular. But this question is as much about sociology as language.
    – WS2
    Jan 28, 2016 at 10:52
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    Around here a "Western" wedding is called a "wedding".
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 28, 2016 at 12:48
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    @Miner_Glitch Well there are plenty of weddings in Britain where the father of the bride plays no part. I heard of one recently where no guests were invited, and the only persons present were the bride, the bridegroom and the registrar. However they are western in the sense that they are quintessentially part of modern "western" society. They do not belong to any "eastern" tradition. Perhaps what we are discussing here is the meaning of the word "western" which clearly is a movable thing.
    – WS2
    Jan 28, 2016 at 12:59
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    There really is no such thing as a typical western wedding. Even within western society there are too many variations. The only thing typical western weddings have in common is that they cost a lot of money. So how about Expensive?
    – TsSkTo
    Jan 28, 2016 at 13:28
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    Roman and Feudal would not be appropriate because the same tradition exists in Orthodox weddings. What characteristics do the weddings you're asking about have other than the fact that there is at least one bride and a father who gives her away? Can you give a sentence in which you would use it?
    – Al Maki
    Jan 28, 2016 at 17:22

5 Answers 5


Consider the idiomatic expression "white wedding", that is a traditional, ​mostly Christian, ​marriage in a ​church or a temple (at which the woman who is getting ​married ​wears a ​white ​dress).

  • This is actually a really good answer to the question as I originally asked it, prior to moderation. Feb 11, 2016 at 11:26
  • @Miner_Glitch it was your question, you could have edited, clarified it as you saw fit. Your original question had What adjective should be used to describe a typical "Western" wedding (i.e. where the father of the bride gives her away), i.e. means "that is", if instead you meant "for example" then it is written as e.g. Anyway, glad to see you received an answer that helped you :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 11, 2016 at 18:06

Try "Old-Hollywood-Movie Type" wedding.


I think that the term that fits the context you are describing is patriarchal:

Patriarchal Traditional Marriage:

  • The orthodox view of sexual ethics has been in the context of the patriarchal traditional marriage of the past few millennia -- a relationship of ownership and domination of a husband over his wife. Remnants of traditional marriage are still commonly found in modern American marriages, and elsewhere.

  • In a traditional wedding ceremony, the father “gives away” the bride to the groom. This property transaction is, I speculate, a remnant of the practice of the father selling his daughter to the groom for a bride price, such as for a negotiated number of goats or ounces of gold.

  • It is still common for the bride to take her husband's last name. Some Americans still use quaint dominant-subordinate expressions like “head of the household” in reference to a husband as a matter of right of position lording it over his wife. It was less than 40 years ago that American law gave a woman the right to bank credit in her own name.


  • I am not totally adverse to that, since it does, for example, distinguish my Friesian case (I suspect Patriarchy vs Matriarchy is why the Angles and Friesians broke up). However, it does not adequately distinguish from those non-European cultures which are also patriarchical. Feb 5, 2016 at 23:23
  • @Minet_Glitch - what do you mean by "it does not adequately distinguish from those non-European cultures which are also patriarchical."?
    – user66974
    Feb 6, 2016 at 7:09
  • Josh61 - The term "Patriarchical Traditional Marriage" is too broad in that it would also refer to traditional marriages in other patriarchical cultures, e.g. patriarchical cultures from Asia. I am seeking to refer only to that cultural heritage which includes the tradition which has as its root the Roman law principle of Manus Marriage. Feb 6, 2016 at 11:53
  • @Miner_Glitch - I doubt that in Asia "traditional patriarchal marriages" don't imply "giving the bride" to the groom. As the extract suggests the practice is probably connected to the rituals of a 'property transaction', common to many cultures.,
    – user66974
    Feb 6, 2016 at 13:28
  • Josh61 - but if it "don't imply" that, it makes your suggested term even less relevant. It appears the edit done by Mari-Lou A has misled you as to what I am asking for. Feb 6, 2016 at 20:33

You can use 'Bestowing bride'. We in India use the hindi term 'Kanyadaan' which is also popularly described as 'bestowing bride' or 'gifting the bride to the groom'


A Wagner-Mendelssohn type wedding.

  • That suggests the type of music, not really what I'm after. Jan 28, 2016 at 11:04
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    @Miner_Glitch: I'm not sure what you're after, but the music is the first distinguishing feature that comes to mind.
    – Ricky
    Jan 28, 2016 at 11:10
  • @Ricky +1 Nice catch.
    – Elian
    Jan 28, 2016 at 13:08
  • Wagner-Mendelssohn wedding sounds like an announcement in the Times.
    – deadrat
    Feb 6, 2016 at 5:47

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