Everything to Know About Your Ceremony Exit

Make a grand exit with these recessional tips.

Smiling bride holding up bouquet and holding hands with smiling groom while turning to guests as they begin the recessional


After your officiant pronounces you wed, you and your wedding party will recede down the aisle in a custom (unsurprisingly) called the recessional. At this time, you will take your first steps as newlyweds and symbolically mark the beginning of your lifelong journey together. To complete the the metaphor, and for the practical reasons of exiting the ceremony space, your nearest and dearest will follow close behind in a show of celebration and support.

What Is the Wedding Recessional?

The wedding recessional is the order in which the newlywed couple and wedding party exit the ceremony. Just like the processional, there's a specific order to follow based on the couple's preference.

Such a significant moment deserves to be spotlighted, which is why the ceremony exit usually receives quite the flourish—from guests cheering and clapping to tossing dried flowers or other props in celebration.

To prep for your own grand exit, here's our guide to how you, your newly-minted spouse, bridesmaids, groomsmen, and parents should leave the ceremony.

The recessional begins immediately after the first kiss and usually follows the reverse order of the processional. The newlyweds lead the way back down the aisle—but not before the maid of honor hands back the bouquets and straightens out the bride's gown and its train if needed. Afterward come the flower girl and ring bearer, followed by the maid of honor and best man.

The rest of the recessional will depend on who makes up the wedding party. Bridesmaids and groomsmen can walk back down the aisle in pairs, which is best if you have an even-numbered wedding party, or they can go solo, which, you guessed it, works well when you have an uneven number of bridesmaids and groomsmen. For balance and symmetry, they should follow the pairing type they entered the ceremony space in. After that, the parents may want to follow, but it's not a must.

Make sure the recessional order is planned and practiced during the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding.

One more important detail to remember is to have the photographer ready in place at the opposite end of the aisle to capture the final moments of your ceremony.

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The Ultimate Wedding Ceremony Guide

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