Once you select the perfect place to get married, book your vendors, and choose your attendants, it is time to start hammering out the details of your ceremony. You will need to select the songs you want to be played when you walk down the aisle, the vows you and your partner will say, and the processional order of the ceremony.
The wedding processional order is the order in which your wedding party enters the ceremony. With the countless wedding traditions around the world, it can be difficult to decide how you and your loved ones should enter the ceremony. As you make your decision, use traditions that are important to you or create something unique that tells your story. Whatever you choose will be perfect for your big day.
This best part of having a non-traditional ceremony is the freedom to make it your own. Instead of following traditional rules, allow your ceremony to tell the story of your relationship. This could look like a close friend “giving away” the bride instead of a parent, or it could look like entering the ceremony with your partner to symbolize the unity that you already have. If you are having a tough time deciding on a processional order, below is a rough template that you can follow. Start here, and make changes to fit your ceremony.
To kick off the ceremony, the officiant goes to the ceremony spot. They can enter before the music begins, or they can kick off the processional. At this time, your officiant welcomes guests and gives any instructions before the wedding party enters.
Traditionally, the second person in the processional is the groom. If you or your partner will be a groom on your wedding day, this is the perfect moment for them to enter. Alternatively, a bride can enter at this moment or both partners can enter together. The possibilities are endless. Finally, just as the bride is “given away” by their father, the groom can be walked down the aisle by their parents or by close friends.
After the groom or first partner enters, the attendants follow. Whether you plan to have bridesmaids, groomsmen, bridesmen, groomsmaids, or just a friend or two, instruct them to walk down the aisle and stand next to the ceremony spot for the big moment.
The flower girl and ring bearer are traditions that have turned into fun ways to celebrate. If there are no young children in your life, feel free to let your furry friend escort the rings down the aisle.
Finally, the last person to enter is the bride and whoever is walking beside them. This could be their father, brother, mother, friend, or all of the above. If you are having a same-sex wedding, this is also a beautiful moment for a groom to enter the ceremony and join the love of their life at the end of the aisle.
Catholic weddings are beautifully traditional and utilize a lot of symbolism. In a Catholic wedding, the priest stands in the middle with the groom and groomsmen on the right and the bride and bridesmaids on the left. As the wedding party enters, they take their places on the corresponding sides.
The Catholic priest begins the procession from the side of the ceremony space and takes his place at the center of the altar.
The groom follows closely behind the priest and stands to the right of him at the altar. This tradition is sometimes replaced with a second option where the bride and groom enter together with their priest or with their parents.
After the priest and groom enter, the best man follows and stands to the right of the groom. If the couple chooses to walk in together the best man and other attendants follow behind.
Instead of walking in one by one, bridesmaids and groomsmen in Catholic ceremonies walk down the aisle in pairs. Each pair has a groomsman on the right and a bridesmaid on the left and walks in order of who stands farthest from the bride and groom.
Once the attendants are in place, the maid or matron of honor takes a final look at the bride to make sure her dress and flowers are in place and walks down the aisle to join the bridesmaids on the left.
Next, young children who are given the role of ring bearer and flower girl walk down the aisle together. The ring bearer carries the rings on a pillow and the flower girl tosses flower petals as she walks down the aisle. Once they reach the end of the aisle, they take a seat with their parents.
Finally, the bride enters the ceremony space with her father to her right side. He escorts her down the aisle and once she is “given away,” he takes his seat next to the bride's mother on the front row.
Unlike Catholic or Christian weddings, Jewish ceremonies seat the bride's family on the right and the groom's family on the left. Jewish ceremonies also include the bride’s and groom’s grandparents, so this is important to remember when parents and grandparents are seated.
Depending on the wedding, the cantor and/or rabbi signals the start of the processional when they take their place at the altar under the traditional wedding chuppah.
The grandparents of the bride walk down the aisle first and take a seat on the first row. Since they are a part of the bridal party they sit on the right side of the room.
The groom’s grandparents follow the bride’s and walk down and take a seat on the first row on the left.
Once all grandparents are seated, the groomsmen pair up and walk down the aisle in two’s starting with those standing farthest from the groom.
After the groomsmen are in place the best man walks by himself and joins the other groomsmen to the right of where the groom will stand.
The groom and his parents walk down the aisle together. The father stands on the left side of the groom and the mother on the right side.
Like the groomsmen, the bridesmaids walk down the aisle in pairs, starting with those standing farthest from the bride.
The maid or matron of honor follows the bridesmaids and takes her place to the left of where the bride will stand.
The ring bearer walks down the aisle followed by the flower girl. They then sit with their parents after walking down the aisle.
In Jewish ceremonies, the bride is escorted by both of her parents with the father on her left arm and the mother on her right. Once they reach the chuppah they can take a seat or stand with the couple. The same tradition applies to the groom’s parents as well.
Though there are many Christian denominations with individual nuances in their tradition the basic processional order is similar. If you have specific traditions that you want to add, use this order as a template and make any changes you would like.
To start the ceremony the pastor, reverend, or preacher walks to the altar and gives any instructions that are necessary. This could be a request to take a seat, put away cell phones, or to stand by.
Once the music starts, the groom walks down the aisle or enters from a separate location to the right of the ceremony site. In Christian ceremonies, the groom, his party, and his family stay on the right side of the ceremony.
After the groom takes his place, the best man enters behind him and stands next to him on his right side.
The groomsmen can either wait until the best man has taken his place or immediately follow him and line up in position.
Once the groomsmen are at the altar, the song may change to indicate that it is time for the bridesmaids to enter. The bridesmaid who stands furthest from the bride enters first and the bridesmaid who stands closest enters last.
The maid or matron of honor follows the bridesmaids and stands to the left of where the bride will be. She will also be ready to take the bride's bouquet during the ceremony and make sure her dress is in place.
The flower girl and ring bearer enter separately or together and carry the rings and drop petals as they saunter down the aisle. Once they reach the altar they may stand with the party or sit with their parents.
Finally, the bride and her father enter the ceremony space and walk down the aisle to the groom. Once they reach the altar the father gives away his daughter and takes a seat next to the bride’s mother.
Your ceremony should tell the story of your relationship and celebrate the union that you and your partner share. Whether that means that you include traditions or create a wedding processional order that is completely unique, this is your moment to feel loved and supported.