Tradition provides a few rules for the wedding ceremony. While there is a specific order and method to the ritual, it is okay to be creative and do things differently. Since organizing a large group within the ceremony space can get a little complicated, we are sharing the traditional wedding processional and recessional to help you plan.
The Wedding Processional
The processional usually forms at the rear of the ceremony site. The order begins with the parents of the groom taking their seat in the front, followed by the entrance of the groom, best man and officiant. The groom and best man usually stand on the right side of the aisle, facing the guests. The best man stands to the groom’s left, slightly behind him. It is a good idea to organize the wedding party according to height, with the shorter individuals in front. The wedding processional forms with the groomsmen, junior groomsmen, junior bridesmaids, bridesmaids, maid of honor, flower girl, ring bearer, bride and her father and train bearers. Properly space the wedding party four to six paces between each individual or pair in the line. Let's examine the wedding processional a little closer to understand how it all comes together.
The Mother of the Bride
The procession of the wedding party usually begins with the mother of the bride entering the ceremony space at the wedding venue. This signals that the main event is about to begin. The mother of the bride can be escorted down the center aisle with a family member or walk alone. Once she takes her seat on the front row, the wedding processional begins.
The groom walks down the aisle and takes his place at the wedding arch. It is common for the groom’s parents to escort him down the aisle. The groom’s parents take their seat in the front row on the appropriate side or according to seating arrangements. The groom is rarely involved in the procession of the bride due to some old superstitions about not seeing the bride before the ceremony.
The procession of the wedding party can occur in a couple of different ways. Traditionally, the groom’s party makes an entrance in the wedding venue after the groom takes his place at the wedding arch. The best man walks the aisle first and takes his place beside the groom. The groomsmen walk down the aisle one after the other in a single line to join the best man. The bridesmaids follow behind the groomsmen and take their place on the bride’s side. The maid of honor walks down the aisle behind the bridesmaids. Sometimes, the best man escorts the maid of honor and the groomsmen escort the bridesmaids down the aisle. If children are included in the ceremony, page boys and flower girls make their entrance before the bride.
The Bride in the Wedding Processional
The music changes and the doors in the back open to welcome the bride. Traditionally, the bride is escorted down the aisle by her father and given away at the wedding arch. When this is done, the bride walks on the right side of her father. You might have a different plan that makes more sense for your wedding processional. Sometimes, both parents escort the bride down the aisle.
When the father of the bride is not available, the role can be filled by a family member or close friend. The solo procession of the bride is becoming popular for many reasons.
The recessional begins with the officiant announcing the couple as husband and wife, and is all about the big exit. The bride and the groom share a kiss. The maid of honor returns her bouquet. The bride takes the arm or hand of the groom and they make their exit down the aisle. The recessional occurs in the reverse order as the processional. The wedding party follows behind the couple.
Practice Makes Perfect
The wedding processional and recessional require a little planning and practice. You should always practice a mock ceremony with your wedding party and the wedding coordinator just before the big day. It is a good idea to have the organist or musician present for the rehearsal so the wedding party can practice walking with the music. The wedding party should understand their order, position and pace. The finer details for the wedding processional should be planned in advance, but must be reviewed and practiced during the rehearsal.
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