One big moment where you shine on your wedding day is your walk down the aisle. It’s the first time your guests—and maybe even your soon-to-be spouse—will see you glowing in your wedding dress, and it marks the very start of your marriage journey with your partner. While some brides dream of recreating the famed scene from Father of the Bride, there are plenty of unique ways to walk down the aisle at your wedding. Ahead, we tapped wedding planners Kristina Kuusik and Allison Jackson for etiquette advice regarding your grand entrance.
Meet the Expert
Whether for personal reasons or to highlight your independence, it's becoming more common for brides to walk down the aisle in a non-traditional way. "Walking down with your pet, just your mom, both of your parents, aunts or uncles, grandparents, or other loved ones besides the typical tradition of your father is a really special way to incorporate other important people into the day," says Kuusik. To help set the mood, you may also want to consider other songs to walk down the aisle to, besides just the traditional "Wedding March."
Below, see 10 unique ways to walk down the aisle at your wedding.
With Your Mother
If you’re closer to your mother, there’s no reason she can’t be the one to walk you down the aisle. By designating your mom as your escort, you'll be able to focus the spotlight on the influence she's had on your life. This is also a great option for brides who don’t have a father in the picture, either due to divorce, death, or other extenuating circumstances.
With Both Parents
Take a cue from the Jewish tradition by having both of your parents take you by the arms as you process to your favorite song. In the tradition, the bride’s father is on her right and mother on her left as they walk toward the chuppah. You can swap the sides, but it’s a heartfelt way to include both of your parents in your wedding ceremony.
With Your Stepfather
Plenty of stepfathers have escorted brides down the aisle, especially when the two have a close-knit relationship. If your stepfather is your main father figure, then odds are you're going to want to include him in the ceremony anyway. Guests will see how much he means to you, and you’ll have the quintessential father-daughter moment.
To an Untraditional Song
Your wedding march song can be a reflection of your personality, your relationship, or even your culture. "Be sure to use music to create personal and deeply meaningful moments on your wedding day," says Jackson. She recounts one wedding where the bride had "ceremony music from Sierra Leone played on the kora, a 21 stringed instrument known in West Africa," to reflect her heritage. Kuusik adds, "I think choosing your favorite song or one that both you and your partner love is totally acceptable. It should have a steady cadence and something you feel really comfortable walking to with small, momentary pauses in between strides so that your photographer can capture the special moment."
Proclaim "Here comes the bride!" in your own unique way by choosing a contemporary tune like "Hymn for the Weekend" by Coldplay, "I Choose You" by Sara Bareilles, or even a movie score.
With Your Father and Stepfather
Many brides feel their stepfather is just as endearing to them as their biological father, so it’s a super sweet sentiment to be accompanied by the two major men in your life. Propose that both of your “fathers” do the honor. If for some reason they aren’t on good terms, consider having a heartfelt conversation with each of them before the big day to check on their comfort level.
With Your Uncle or Uncles
In Hindu tradition, brides enter the wedding ceremony alongside their maternal uncles. Often, they are carried in by the uncles on a doli, or small carriage decorated in florals. You don’t need the entire pomp and circumstance, but asking your uncle to do the honor is perfectly acceptable in any tradition.
With Different Loved Ones
The options are endless when it comes to asking any of your loved ones to be your escort on your big day. Make it meaningful by choosing a person you are particularly devoted to, whether it’s a sibling, lifelong friend, or an individual who has helped you through challenging times—it makes the moment that much more special. "I witnessed a bride who walked down with her niece who was also her flower girl so she threw flower petals while walking with her—it was lovely," Kuusik says.
With Your Pet
If you consider your pup a member of the family, why not have them escort you down the aisle? The wedding photos will be beyond adorable, and having your furry friend by your side might be just the thing to calm any lingering nerves. "I would encourage you to check with the venue (if the wedding is at a venue) to make sure pets are allowed because some don't allow them or need them to leave as soon as food service begins," Kuusik says. "I also would encourage practicing walking with your pet ahead of time and making sure he/she doesn't sprint down the aisle pulling you or jump up on your beautiful dress."
To shift attention back to you and your partner, Kuusik suggests assigning a member in the first few rows to be the 'handler.' Once you reach the end of the aisle, he or she will be able to quickly take the pup without interrupting the ceremony.
Halfway by Yourself
Meghan Markle set the tone when she walked down the aisle of St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle alone for half her walk toward Prince Harry. By meeting an escort at the 50-yard-line, you'll be able to show off your independence while still honoring an age-old tradition. If you want to make a bold statement, we can't think of a more memorable entrance.
Who says you need an escort at all? In modern times, plenty of women have survived for years without a partner or parent helping their every step. Showcase your autonomy and self-reliance by making a grand entrance sans escort. Talk about the ultimate statement.