How To Plan Your Wedding Ceremony Processional

Updated: Sep 1


One of our main methodologies when working with couples on their Wedding plans is customization. This goes from the location, to signage and even down to their Wedding Ceremony plans. There are many different variations you can apply to the processional and recessional process as there is no one size fits all. Some that are based off religious traditions, some based off logistics, and some based purely off which side the Bride prefers to be photographed from. We are walking you through all of your options and how to put together the best plan for you. Putting a plan in place now will prevent any confusion and anxiety when you get to the rehearsal, and you can feel confident going into your Wedding day. 


The Terms

First of all, ​Processional and Recessional are likely terms you are not familiar with unless you happen to have been in a lot of Weddings. These are terms used to describe the entry and exit of the Bridal Party. Processional being entry and Recessional being the exit. 


Who is Involved?

​Before you think about how people will be walking in and out, think about who you want to be included in this process. “Traditionally” the below are included:

  • Officiant/Religious Leader conducting your Ceremony

  • Groom, Best Man and Groomsmen

  • Grandparents of the Groom

  • Grandparents of the Bride

  • Parents of the Groom

  • Parents of the Bride

  • Bridesmaids and Maid of Honor

  • Flower Girls + Ring Bearers

  • Bride 

Where Will They Stand/Sit?

Before you can think about how people will walk in and walk out, think about where they are going to be during the ceremony. Traditionally the Bridal Party (Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, Best Man and Maid of Honor) stand, lined up behind the Bride and Groom. However, various religious ceremonies require that the Bridal Party sit in the front row instead. For example, if you are hosting a Christian mass with your ceremony, they will be asked to sit as they cannot be up at the altar for the duration of a mass. Similarly, some Jewish ceremonies require the parents to stand up with the Bride and Groom and have the Bridal Party sit. Speak with whomever is conducting your ceremony to see if they have a religious or personal preference that works best for the content of your ceremony. Their standing or seating order can be arranged in personal preference or height, always starting with the Best Man and Maid of Honor standing closest to the couple. ​ As far as sides for the Bride and Groom, traditionally the Bride is on the left side and the Groom is on the right side. If you are not having a formal or religious ceremony, you of course can switch this up however you’d like. 


What's the Proper Order?


Processional

Now, let’s talk about order. Traditionally, at a birds-eye view, the order should be:

  • Officiant:

  • Seating of the Grandparents

  • Seating of the Parents

  • Bridal Party

  • Bride

There are many variations to this depending on the type of Ceremony you are having:


CHRISTIAN WEDDING CEREMONY:

  • Grandparents: It is optional to have the grandparents of the bride and groom formally walk down the aisle. If they participate, they should enter first after all guests are seated. If they are on their own, they should be escorted by another family member. Groom’s grandparents enter first.

  • Groom’s Parents: It is optional to have the parents of the groom walk down the aisle. If they choose to participate, they should be seated after the grandparents and before the mother of the bride.

  • Mother of the Bride: The mother of the bride is the last person seated before the officiant, groom and best man take their places at the altar. If she is alone, she can be escorted in by a relative or a groomsman.

  • Officiant: After all formal seating is over, officiant should walk up to the alter with the groom and best man.

  • Groom and Best Man: Enter from the back or side of the Ceremony venue and meet the officiant at the alter.

  • Bridesmaids and Groomsmen: Walk down the aisle in pairs or if an odd number of members individually or in a group of three.

  • Maid/Matron of Honor: Follows the Bridesmaids and Groomsmen on their own.

  • The Ring Bearer and Flower Girl: Children can walk together or the ring bearer can enter before the flower girl

  • The Bride and Father of the Bride: The bride walks on her father’s right side


JEWISH WEDDING CEREMONY:

  • Rabbi and/or Cantor: They are the first to enter the Ceremony and can either walk down the aisle or walk to the alter from the side.

  • Grandparents: It is optional to have the grandparents of the bride and groom formally walk down the aisle. If they participate, they should enter first after all guests are seated. If they are on their own, they should be escorted by another family member. Groom’s grandparents enter first.

  • Bridesmaids and Groomsmen: There are two variations: Groomsmen can follow the grandparents and precede the best man with the bridesmaids following the groom and his parents.  Or bridesmaids and groomsmen can be paired together, following the grandparents and before the best man. If there are an odd number of people there can be a group of three who walk together.

  • Best Man: Walking alone, he precedes the groom and his parents

  • Groom: The groom walks down the aisle with both of his parents, his father on his left arm and mother on his right

  • Maid/Matron of Honor: Walks down the aisle on her own

  • Ring Bearer and Flower Girl: Children can walk together or the ring bearer walks ahead of the flower girl

  • Bride: The bride walks down the aisle escorted by both of her parents with her father on her left arm and mother on her right


NON-RELIGIOUS CEREMONY: Couples having a non-religious ceremony can choose any order they want. We recommend keeping the birds-eye view order while making your preference for the Groom, Bridesmaids and Groomsmen.  

  • Groom: Can walk in with the officiant down the aisle, meet them at the alter from the side, or walk down the aisle with their parents.

  • Bridesmaids and Groomsmen: They can walk-in together or individually. If you are a larger number of bridal party members, we recommend having them walk-in together to save time. If it’s a smaller amount (under 6) – having them walk-in individually and out together is a nice tradition. 


SAME-SEX CEREMONY: Same sex couple can select orders that reflect any religions, traditions or personal preferences they would like. Some same-sex wedding ceremony traditions we have seen and recommend:

  • Have one partner follow the officiant and/or grandparents with their parents (or on their own) followed by the bridal party and then the other partner and their parents.

  • Have the bridal party enter, in alternating order of who they are standing behind.

  • Have the couple walk-in together after their officiant and/or bridal party.


Recessional


APPLIES TO ALL:

  • Any bridal party members that are walking in should walk in the opposite order in which they are standing (starting with the couple and out). For example, the maid of honor enters last, so the bridesmaid on the far end of the line should be the first to enter.


Other Tips:

​Everyone exists essentially in the opposite order as how they walked in. The Bride and Groom of course lead the way, followed by the Maid of Honor and Best Man, the rest of the Bridesmaids and Groomsmen, Parents of the Bride and Groom, Grandparents of the Bride and Groom and then the Officiant. The rest of the guests will follow suit. 

Dogs: Pets in Weddings will steal the show every time! If you decide to have a dog in your ceremony, be sure to dedicate someone (not a bridal party member) who is in charge of walking them in and holding them during the ceremony. You never know how a dog will hold attention, so having someone that can walk them out if needed without disrupting the rest of the ceremony is key.


Kids: Similar mindset as pets – they’ll steal the show every time but it’s always a toss up on how it’s going to go. Having a family member that can be at the alter and encourage them to come meet them is a great tactic. Practicing a few times so they know to go to that person will help make the experience see familiar to them. Another pro tip, go in with the expectation that if it happens, it happens 😊


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Boston, MA 02116

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