The importance of a wedding processional and observing the correct order of attendees walking down the aisle should never be overlooked. Organization is key when making sure the bridal party lineup proceeds in the right order. A few tips can help everyone remember where they need to be.
Traditional Wedding Processional Line Up
A traditional ceremony follows the order of a wedding processional and the recessional order is simply the reversal of the processional. Figure out who walks down the aisle and what order they are in and let everyone know before the ceremony.
Before the Ceremony
- The groom waits in the back of the church with the clergy member for the ceremony to begin.
- The bride waits out of sight in the back of the church.
- The groomsmen or ushers seat guests as they arrive.
- The groomsmen seat the immediate family members of the bride and groom last. Often, the groom will walk grandparents and parents down the aisle instead of a groomsman or usher.
- Once the mothers of the bride and groom are seated, the bridesmaids and groomsmen gather in the back of the church.
Once the Ceremony Begins
- Processional music signals the start of the wedding.
- As the processional music begins, the church official and groom take their places on the altar.
- The wedding party lineup then starts down the aisle.
- The groomsmen and bridesmaids walk down the aisle, one pair at a time.
- Upon reaching the altar, groomsmen and bridesmaids part and take their places on the appropriate side of the altar.
- The best man and maid or matron of honor walk down the aisle.
- If the wedding party includes a miniature bride and groom, they follow the last bridesmaid and groomsman down the aisle.
- The ring bearer and flower girl (if included) proceed down the aisle next.
- The wedding march begins playing.
- The guests stand and turn to the back of the church.
- The bride enters the doorway and is greeted by her father or the escort of her choosing, who walks her down the aisle to "give her away."
- Once the bride and her escort reach the altar, the groom approaches the pair and takes the bride's hand.
- The bride's father (or escort) is seated next to her mother (or other honored guest), and the ceremony begins.
- Once the wedding ceremony has been completed, the bride and groom are introduced to the guests as man and wife.
- The bridesmaids and groomsmen meet at the center of the altar, then turn and walk arm and arm out of the church.
- Once the members of the wedding party have exited, the family members follow.
- After the family has exited, the guests leave the church.
- Everyone proceeds to the location of the wedding reception.
Plan and Practice the Correct Order for Your Wedding
In many cases, personal preference or religious tradition dictate the correct order of a wedding processional. However, there is no one right way to organize a wedding processional and what's correct for your processional may not be the traditional option. That's why it's important to spend some time thinking about how you want to structure the processional before the big day arrives.
Nontraditional Processional Variations
While there may be a traditional processional, it's not always the right choice for every wedding. Consider alternatives to the traditional wedding processional that may work better for your situation.
- The traditional church wedding processional structure can easily be adapted for outdoor weddings and those that take place in other types of facilities.
- It is acceptable to have all the groomsmen line up at the front of the church (or other facility) with the groom at the beginning of the ceremony. In such processionals, the bridesmaids walk down the aisle alone.
- In some weddings, the bridesmaids and groomsmen line up in a boy, girl, boy, girl pattern instead of dividing into gender specific groups on either side of the bride and groom.
- In many cases, the bride walks down the aisle alone or with someone other than her father.
Practice in the Rehearsal
The wedding rehearsal is the place to iron out all the details of your wedding processional. Before the rehearsal, it's a good idea to sketch out your vision of how the professional will flow whether you choose the traditional order or one of the variations. This will allow you to make sure the entrance of the wedding party flows the way you want while you still have time to make adjustments.
Plan Ahead for a Perfect Procession
With all the planning and excitement that occurs when you're planning your wedding, it can be easy to overlook some small details that need to be taken care of before the ceremony. Remember to plan the correct order of a wedding processional ahead of time so the ceremony will flow in a smooth and orderly manner.