When it gets closer to the wedding, the inevitable question comes up of "How do we walk down the aisle?" It's one of those things that's easy to overlook because the answer seems so obvious - just put one foot in front of the other and go, right?!
But the more couples start thinking about it, the more obvious it becomes that there are a few things to consider. So I'm going to walk you through some general questions that can help you figure out the best processional order for your wedding.
Keep in mind that there are TONS of variations for processional orders (including not walking down the aisle at all), so feel free to tweak and change things so that it feels right for your and your partner.
QUESTION 1: How would you like to start the ceremony?
- Have attendants enter (a.k.a. the groomsmen or half the wedding party in a same sex wedding)
- Have the wedding officiant enter
Then choose how they will enter - by walking down the aisle or entering from the side of the alter (generally, from the right if you're facing the alter).
QUESTION 2: When would the first partner like to enter?
- Typically the groom follows the groomsmen after they enter.
- Or you may decide to wait and have both partners enter at the end of the processional (more on this in Question 6)
QUESTION 3: What family members will walk down the aisle?
- Grandparents of the groom typically go first, followed by grandparents of the bride (or whatever order suits you)
- Then parents follow in the same order
If a parent is going to be escorting you down the aisle (traditionally, the father of the bride), then he or she hangs back until the end of the processional while someone else escorts the other parent.
When being seated, escorts can either sit with the people they escort down the aisle, have their own reserved seat a few rows back, or if they are are also an attendant, they can join the attendants after finishing their escort duties.
As a side note, I've also seen grandmothers be the "flower girls" and walk down and toss flower petals right before the bride. It was pure amazingness (yep, that's the picture above!).
QUESTION 4: Next up, remaining wedding party attendants
Now is the time to have your remaining attendants make their way to the alter.
- Most often, they walk individually down the aisle
- If no attendants are at the alter yet, you can pair them up to get everyone down more quickly (for instance, pair up the bridesmaids and groomsmen so two walk down together at a time)
- Typically, the maid of honor is the last to to go (and if she's paired with the best man, they go last together)
I've seen this flipped though, where the maid of honor and best man go first, and stand toward the center of the alter. Then everyone else follows and stands behind them once they reach the alter.
QUESTION 5: Are there kiddos to get down the aisle?
If so, get those kiddos down the aisle and show off all their cuteness!
- You can send the ring bearer first and then the flower girl, or they can go together
Generally, when kids get to the end of the aisle, they take a seat with the guests or are handed off to a parent who is seated with guests.
QUESTION 6: Are you ready!?!
Last up is the bride - or bride and groom together, brides, or grooms.
- You can either be escorted one at a time by a parent (or someone else important to you), walk down together, or walk down individually without an escort
And voila - those are the big questions to consider for your wedding processional. The processional order can go right into your wedding day timeline so it stays with all the most important information about your wedding day.
Here's a Basic Sample Processional Order
- Groomsmen (enter from right)
- Groom (enters from right)
- Wedding officiant (enters from right)
- Grandparents of groom
- Grandparents of bride
- Parents of groom
- Mother of bride escorted by her son, who is not in the wedding party
- Maid of honor
- Ring bearer and flower girl
- Father of the bride and bride
Lastly, here are a few processional tips to put the finishing touches on your processional:
- When people are walking down the aisle, have them wait until the person in front of them gets about half way or two-thirds down the aisle before walking. This way guests can easily see each member of the wedding party as they enter.
- Brides and grooms can wait until the person in front gets to the end of the aisle before walking to make sure everyone sees them walk to the alter.
- Once groomsmen are on the alter, have them all do the same thing with their hands (hold hands behind their backs, keep them clasped in front, or - most informally - place them in their pockets).
- Have the bridesmaids hold their bouquets at their waist so as not to cover up their dress.
- If you have an odd number of attendants, do not worry about people being paired up in two's. People can walk down the aisle in three's or individually - it's no biggie!
- When you walk down the aisle go slow and soak up all the love of your family, friends, and life partner. It's going to be amazing, so make sure to take it all in!
And there wouldn't be a processional without a recessional, so here's a tip about that, too. People who are on the alter pair up and walk out together in the opposite order they came in (no need to wait until the people in front get to a certain point to head down the aisle). Then, they are followed by the rest of the party in the front rows, and next the guests.
The last and most important tip is this: it's good to know about the options and details for your wedding procession, but definitely don't obsess. Once the ceremony is over, get ready to get your part-ay on celebrating the BEST. DAY. EVER.
Photo credit: Stephanie Rita Photgraphy