So, I’ve planned a lot of weddings over the past 20 years, 21 if you count my own wedding. There is no right way to have a wedding! Just repeat that – out loud – anytime somebody gets mad at you for suggesting you want to have your wedding just exactly the way you want it.
That said, a lot of people want to know, how do I actually do this? How do people know where to sit? How do we actually walk down the aisle? What’s the order of the ceremony?
Again, there is no right way to do it. But your religion, ceremony type, formality, personal style and preferences will all shape the true answer to this question.
If you are having a Jewish wedding, the Rabbi is already up front. The Groom may be there with the Rabbi, or they may walk out together. His parents may escort him down the aisle and take their seats or stand at two posts of the chuppah. If you are having groomsmen or a best person, your parents may sit or they can stand together at one corner while your best person takes the other corner, or your parents may take their seats and the groom’s attendants line up down the right side of the front (this is the most common). There is no right answer.
If there is a bridal party, the bride’s attendants line up on the left side. Both of her parents escort her down the aisle.
In Christian or non-denominational or non-religious American weddings, you have options.
Option 1 – the most common modern processional. The grandparents (first grooms then Brides) they walk as a couple or if just one are escorted, they are seated, groom’s family front row right side. Next the groom’s parents. If they are no longer married father and escort then mother and escort. Then mother of the bride. If she is walking alone, that’s fine she may want an escort, choose a groomsman. She is seated. The music may change. The groom and officiant walk in line to start. The groomsmen follow right behind with best Person last, first person files all the way to the end mark this during your rehearsal. Best Person stands next to groom. Then by size. Music changes. Bridesmaids followed by Maid/Maitron/Man of Honor. Next come the ring bearer and flower girl, they may stand or sit depending on age, they usually sit. Music changes for bride and Father (or chosen escort, or alone).
Option 2. Groom and officiant go out first. Next grandparents ushered by best man who seats groom’s grandparents then stands up front. Followed by groomsman ushering grandparents, seats them takes his place. Next mother of the bride ushered by groomsman. If you have too many groomsmen they walk out alone in line next. Next come bridesmaids exactly as in option 1.
Option 3. Groom and officiant, followed by grandparents, groom’s parents, and mom ushered by best Man. Bridesmaids and groomsmen pair up. Maid of honor alone or best man returns to walk with her. The rest is the same as option 1.
For Same Sex weddings or modern weddings where you want things done different, you can choose from a lot of options. Choose a side for each set of parents. The officiant enters first. Have grandparents enter next, one family sits on right other on left. Next have bridal party enter they can stand left or right, gender never matters in any wedding for any attendant. In same sex weddings this is even more common. But choose who’s standing up for whom, and who will stand on each side during the rehearsal. Everyone may walk in a row and file in all on the right then all on the left, or they may walk in pairs and split right and left. It doesn’t matter. Best Persons go last, right before ring bearer and flower person. Finally one spouse to be accompanied by both or one parent, followed by the other accompanied by one or both parents.
Some same sex couples opt to follow a more traditional format or a blend of traditional and non. Again there is no right way. If you have immediate family who will not be attending your wedding for any reason, have a loved one from either family, or a very important honored guest serve in their place. Somebody who loves you dearly wants to serve this roll, I promise. Don’t go it alone.
More info about ceremony parts and details to follow in a future post. After it’s all said and done, the recessional happens! The newly weds exit first, followed by flowergirl and ring bearer, best person and maid/matron/man of honor comes next, followed by bridal party paired off. Extras walk alone. Next officiant releases aisles left to right front to back.