The father who "gives away" his daughter at her wedding ceremony is following an ancient tradition that has evolved over hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The custom dates back to the time when a daughter was considered property, and the groom had to pay a price to her family before he could be permitted to marry his intended.
Another theory is that it symbolized the transition of authority from the bride's father to her husband as she moved from the parental home to the conjugal home. Today, many brides follow this custom, but its meaning has emerged as an outward approval of the groom by the parents or family of the bride.
Brides who consider this tradition archaic, or who have lived independently for years before their wedding, can eliminate this custom entirely or revise it to include their mother, brother, stepfather or any other significant member of the family. Some brides even elect to walk down the aisle alone.