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The bride's walk down the aisle is always one of the highlights of a wedding ceremony, but a few other important people like the bridal party, mother of the bride, and officiant prep the runway before the girl in the white dress makes her grand entrance. Different types of weddings employ different processional orders, so we're breaking down who should walk when to familiarize yourself with the different possibilities and to ensure your bridal march runs as smoothly as possible!
What Is the Wedding Processional?
The wedding processional refers to the group of people walking down the aisle in a specific order to mark the beginning of a wedding ceremony. The processional often includes a permutation of the officiant, the wedding party, flower girls, ring bearers, and the bride and groom and their parents.
Aside from the processional order, people involved and where they will be seated also vary depending on the type of religious wedding service. "Both Hindu and Jewish ceremonies include more family members than traditional or nondenominational ceremonies," says Victoria Miller, founder and lead wedding planner of LUXE Atlanta Events. Jewish weddings, for instance, have both parties' grandparents walking down the aisle. While for Hindu Weddings, the parents are more involved in the processional and the bride's parents even sit with them under the traditional mandap.
Meet the Expert
Victoria Miller is the founder and lead wedding planner of LUXE Atlanta Events, a wedding planning and design firm based in Atlanta, Georgia.
If you're a modern bride who wants to switch things up and have more control over the processional, a nondenominational wedding may be more suited for you. "Jewish, Hindu, and Catholic processionals are typically more stringent than traditional or nondenominational processionals," says Miller, so consider a nondenominational ceremony for more flexibility. Check out our ultimate wedding processional order guide below to help you with your processional needs.
Traditional Wedding Processional Order
1. The Bride's Mother: The mother of the bride's entrance signals that the processional is about to begin. Once she reaches the end of the aisle, she takes her seat to the left of the aisle in the first row.
2. The Groom: After the mother of the bride takes her seat, the groom will traditionally take his place at the head of the altar (coming in from the side of the venue). However, many couples these days choose to have the groom's parents escort him down the aisle (then, his parents would sit to the right of the aisle in the front row).
3. The Best Man: The best man either walks in from the side and takes his place at the altar next to the groom, or he can walk in as the last groomsman. He may also hold the bride's ring (or both rings).
4. The Groomsmen: The groomsmen open the processional as they walk down the aisle one by one.
5. The Bridesmaids: The bridesmaids walk down the aisle one by one before the maid or matron of honor. Some couples may choose to have the groomsmen and bridesmaids walk in together in pairs.
6. The Maid or Matron of Honor: Before the ceremony, the maid or matron of honor assists the bride with her dress, veil, and train, making sure everything looks perfect before she walks down the aisle. She then stands by the bride's side at the altar and holds her bouquet and sometimes the groom's ring.
7. The Flower Girl(s) and Ring Bearer(s): The ring bearer and flower girl precede the bride down the aisle. Traditionally, the ring bearer carries the wedding rings (or decoys, if he's too little to be trusted with the real things), tied to a small pillow. The flower girl may carry a basket of petals, which she scatters as she walks, or a posy of flowers. After the procession is over and the rings are handed off to the best man, the children's work is done, and they can be seated with their parents.
Have fun with the children's accessories by incorporating fabric signs and banners, ribbon wands, and other sweet ideas like blow bubbles. Adorable creative ideas always garner "awws" from the guests as the children walk down the aisle.
8. The Father of the Bride and the Bride: The bride's father traditionally escorts his daughter down the aisle, standing to her right. After he "gives her away" to the groom, he lifts her veil and kisses her, signifying his blessing, then takes his seat beside the bride's mother.
Jewish Wedding Processional Order
1. The Rabbi and/or Cantor: Either or both officiants would stand at the altar under the traditional chuppah to signal the beginning of the processional.
2. The Grandparents of the Bride: The bride's grandparents walk down the aisle first. Once they reach the front they are then seated in the first row, on the right side. In Jewish ceremonies, the bride's family and guests sit on the right and the groom's family and friends sit on the left, the opposite of traditional ceremonies.
3. The Grandparents of the Groom: The groom's grandparents will follow. Once they, too, reach the front, they sit in the front row on the left side. Jewish weddings involve more family members than other ceremonies with the inclusion of both parties' grandparents.
4. The Groomsmen: The groomsmen walk down the aisle in pairs starting with those standing farthest from the groom.
5. The Best Man: During the processional, the best man walks solo after the groomsmen and takes his place as the right-hand man of the groom.
6. The Groom: The groom proceeds to walk down the aisle accompanied by his parents, with his father on the left and his mother on the right.
7. The Bridesmaids: The bridesmaids then proceed in pairs, starting with those standing farthest from the bride.
8. The Maid or Matron of Honor: The bride's right-hand woman walks alone.
9. The Ring Bearer(s) and/or The Flower Girl(s): The ring bearer walks down the aisle followed by the flower girl. They then sit with their parents after walking down the aisle.
10. The Parents of the Bride and the Bride: The parents of the bride escort their daughter down the aisle together with the father on the bride's left arm and her mother on her right. Parents of both the bride and groom can stand under the chuppah with the couple if they wish.
Hindu Wedding Processional Order
1. The Groom, The Groom's Family, and Friends: "The groom enters with all of his friends and family in a celebration called a Baraat where traditionally he will arrive on a [white] horse as everyone dances around him," says Miller. This festive Baraat marks the beginning of a Hindu wedding ceremony.
2. The Bride's Family: The bride's family will wait for the groom and his family to arrive. The parents of the bride may feed the groom sweets and exchange gifts or flower garlands with the groom's parents. They will then head to the mandap, the traditional Hindu arch similar to a Jewish chuppah, together.
3. The Bride and the Bridal Party: The Bride then enters and walks down the aisle together with the rest of her family, wedding party, and friends. Her bridal party will walk down the aisle first, in an attempt to hide the bride for her big reveal. Then the bride walks down the aisle until she reaches the mandap and exchanges garlands with the groom. Then the couple, the parents of the bride, and the priest will sit under the mandap to begin the ceremony.
Nondenominational Wedding Processional Order
1. The Officiant: The officiant can be a friend, family member, or anyone ordained to perform weddings chosen by the couple. The officiant will be standing at the altar to mark the beginning of the processional.
2. The Groom: The groom and his groomsmen can already be at the altar before the processional starts, coming in from the side. However, many modern grooms choose to walk down the aisle.
3. The Best Man: Depending on what the groom decides, the best man will do the same. If the groom opts to enter from the side and wait at the altar, the best man should be by his side. If the groom decides to walk down the aisle during the processional, the best man will follow.
4. The Groomsmen then Bridesmaids: The bridesmaids and the groomsmen will typically walk in pairs, starting from those who will stand farthest from the couple.
5. The Maid or Matron of Honor: The maid or matron of honor will walk alone after other members of the bridal party.
6. The Flower Girl(s) and/or Ring Bearer(s): The children chosen will walk down the aisle one after the other. They can sit with their parents once they are done.
7. The Bride and/or the Bride's Parents: Depending on the bride, she may be escorted by her father, mother, or both. Or she may decide to not have an escort and meet her parents halfway. Nondenominational wedding processionals are extremely customizable, so you can definitely make the entrance you want.