What is the minhag when a child orphaned of a parent( or of both) R”L walks down the aisle to the Chuppah? Who , if anyone, walks them down? Please list the mekoros.
Presumably, the living parent wants to walk with their child to the chuppah. She may be accompanied by a sibling, grandparent or other family. Some are particular to have a married couple with children wlak down. They may follow behind the mother and child.
The custom of having Shushvinin is mentioned by Chazal in a number of places, such as Bereishis Rabba (8) and the Gemara (Berachos 61a). There are also halachic ramifications of this as we find in the Tosefta (Berachos 2:4).
The Rema (Yoreh De’ah 391:3) mentions the custom of two people serving as the Shushvinin in bringing their children to the Chuppah. He doesn’t mention parents in particular, but Rav Moshe Feinstein (Iggrom Moshe, Yoreh De’ah 3:106) notes that the common custom today is for parents to do this – adding that this was not the custom of old where friends used to perform as Shushvinin. He writes that today this is the custom and it should be adhered to.
Some are careful that only married couples (parents) should lead their children down the aisle. This is noted by the Shulchan HaEzer in the name of Chosam HaKodesh concerning a parent who was widowed, whereby one of the married siblings should lead his brother or sister down the aisle together with his or her spouse.
Some likewise write in this light that divorced parents should not lead their children down the aisle (see Teshuvos VeHanhagos 2:652; Be’er Moshe 3:184, Lehoros Nassan 2:98; Chelkes Yaakov 3:76).
However, where this will cause offence, and raise a clash with the Torah mitzvah of honoring parents, this mitzvah will surely prevail over the “concern for a bad omen.” The fulfillment of the mitzvah of Kibbud Av VaEim is surely a good omen for any wedding.
Note in this vein the words of Rav Yaakov Breisch (Chelkas Yaakov 87): “The custom is not to honor as Shushvinin somebody who is married for the second time, or a couple without children. And all of these matters have no source, and I have not found this in any Sefer. The source is surely from “old wives tales,” and whoever wishes to be wary can do so…”
Again, because the matter of leading the couple down the aisle is not actually mentioned as halachah in primary sources, and because there is no clear custom in this matter, the mitzvah of honoring parents will be greater where this will clash with the question of a widowed parent leading a child down the aisle.