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  • Writer's pictureSydney Schatz

How To: Decide on Your Processional Order

In order to figure out exactly who and in what order you want your people to walk down the aisle at your wedding, let’s first define what processional and recessional mean. The wedding processional refers to the group of people walking down the aisle in a specific order marking the beginning of the wedding ceremony. The wedding recessional refers to the order in which the newlywed couple and wedding party exit the ceremony. Before I break down the “traditional” way in which I discuss setting up the processional order with clients, I want to say that there truly is no right or wrong answer here. It is your wedding day, and you can get your people down the aisle in whatever order you choose and what feels right to you and your future spouse. Even if you hear comments from the peanut gallery of “well that’s not how I did it at my wedding”. However, most couples are looking for a little guidance and typically like to hear what is “traditional” then customize their personal list from there.


Up first is usually the groom with or without the officiant (depending on if the officiant is a friend/family member or hired vendor). Sometimes the groom would prefer to stand off to the side of the altar and simply take a couple of steps into position once the music starts versus walking all the way down the aisle.


Next up would be the immediate family, meaning parents & grandparents. Everyone’s family dynamics are different, so this can be set up however it makes the most sense to you. Traditionally speaking the grandparents go first… groom’s grandparents then bride’s grandparents. However, not all grandparents feel comfortable or have the mobility to walk all the way down the aisle, so be cognizant of the length of the walk and their wishes. The parents follow the grandparents… groom’s parents then bride’s mother with an escort (should you be choosing to have your father walk you down the aisle). This escort can be anyone your mom feels comfortable walking down the aisle with – one of your siblings, one of your cousins, one of the groomsmen who escorts her and then comes back to escort one of the bridesmaids. Typically, siblings (unless they are part of the wedding party) are not included with this part of the processional. But if that is of major importance to you, then by all means, let’s do it!


Following the family would be the wedding party. This can be done individually or as couples. Sometimes the groomsmen even come from the side of the altar into position with the groom and only the bridesmaids walk down the aisle. Again, there are no wrong answers here. Whether the wedding party is walking individually or as couples it is traditionally done where the outside folks walk first and ending with the people who are standing closest to you near the altar. Typically, the bride + bridesmaids stand on the left side with the groom + groomsmen on the right. But more than once I have had a couple switch those sides because one side of their face photographs better than the other. See what I mean… no true hard and fast rules here!


Should you decide to have a flower girl, ring bearer, beer boy, flower grandma, whatever the case may be, walking before you and your escort this is the time that would traditionally happen. The thought is that the flower girl is setting the stage/aisle (typically with rose pedals) for you to walk down and the ring bearer is carrying those ever important rings down (although if the child is under 10 years of age, I would recommend having the best man hold the actual rings).


And finally, making that grand entrance last, is the bride + her escort (whether that be your father, father figure, both your parents, no escort)! This is the point where all the guests will stand, and the altar feels a million miles away. Take in the scene in its entirety and don’t rush it – this is a big moment for you both! I have even had the couple walk down the aisle together before. This time, this marriage, this walk is very much a unification for the two of you as a couple so the processional can look however unique or traditional you want it to look!!


bride-walking-down-the-aisle.jpg
Photo by Looyenga Photography

I hope this short blog post has given you the necessary information needed to be able to think & formulate exactly what you want your own wedding processional to look like. At the end of the day the most important thing is that you and your significant other are married. Your friends and family will stand wherever you tell them to stand and will walk whenever you tell them to walk because ultimately, they are there to support and celebrate YOU. So, although it is important to have a plan of attack when it comes to your processional, this is not an area to lose sleep over. Just make it make sense for you.


If this piece of the puzzle is keeping you up at night along with a host of what feels like a million other tasks, then it may be time to think about hiring a wedding planner/coordinator. Be sure to head over to my services page and fill out my contact form so we can start that conversation and discuss exactly how we can make this process fun again for you both!



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