Planning a wedding can feel like fielding a continual series of questions you didn’t even know you needed to answer. For instance, what order does everyone walk down the aisle in a wedding ceremony? You’ve no doubt been to many weddings before, and witnessed many ceremony processionals, but when you actually sit down and think about it, even something as straightforward as walking down the aisle can get a little fuzzy. Of course, if you have a church lady at your side, she’ll be more than happy to set you straight (!), but in the meantime, here’s our guide to who goes where, when!
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From Jessica and Michael’s wedding, by Blue Ribbon Vendor Tracy Enoch
THE FAMILY: Traditionally, the mother of the bride enters first, often escorted by a special gentleman in her life, such as her brother or son-in-law, and then takes her seat to the left of the aisle in the first row. However, we like the idea of honoring the groom’s parents, as well. If you choose to have them join the processional, ask the mother of the groom to enter first, then take her seat to the right of the aisle in the first row. She can either be escorted by her husband or by another special gentleman, with her husband entering just behind them.
THE GENTS: The groom, best man, and groomsmen generally process together. If you’d like them to walk down the aisle, the groomsmen are followed by the best man and then the groom. We’ve also seen grooms and groomsmen take a more subtle approach by entering the ceremony from the side of the chapel or venue to take their place at the front. Officiants generally process in a similar manner and at the same time as the gents.
THE LADIES: The music generally changes for the bridesmaids’ processional. The maid of honor is the last in line so she’ll be standing next to you at the altar.
THE KIDS: If children are included in your ceremony, they’ll process immediately before you.
THE BRIDE: Traditionally, a bride is accompanied by her father, who walks at her right side and lifts her veil at the end of the aisle. Some brides choose to walk with both their mothers and fathers (this is customary in the Jewish tradition), others choose to walk with just their mother, others with their brother, and others on their own. In unique family situations, we’ve also seen brides split the honor, by, say, linking arms with her stepfather for half of the walk and then switching to her biological father for the remainder. This is one of the most special ways to honor loved ones your wedding day affords, so feel free to do what feels best for your situation.
One helpful tip: on a pre-wedding visit to your ceremony space, make sure you time how long it will take you and your bridesmaids to walk down the aisle–this will help you plan your musical selections, especially if there’s a particular point of the song where you’d like the doors to open or to coincide with your arrival at the altar.
For more wedding ceremony planning tips, pick up your copy of the Southern Weddings Planner! And y’all, I have to brag for a minute. I just finished typing up the final edits before our reorder of the Planner, and friends, it is SO GOOD! It is the project I am most proud of from my seven years at this magazine, and that’s saying a lot. If you’re a bride, go get yourself one – it is one purchase you will NOT regret!!
Love it! Are there any suggestions for music in an outdoor ceremony?
Hi Savannah! I love that idea! We haven’t written that post yet, but I will put it on the calendar :) In the meantime, I think you can’t go wrong with live string versions of modern songs for an outdoor ceremony!