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Dr Kelsey Graham, Wedding Officiant Dr Kelsey Graham, Wedding Officiant

Ceremony Components Ceremony Components

Thu, Nov 01 2012
The Wedding Processional Order: Who Walks When?


The Wedding Processional Order: Who Walks When?

The type of ceremony, traditions, and formality influence how you enter and exit the venue. Here are some guidelines.

wedding ceremony proceduresThe order of your processional and recessional will depend on the type of wedding ceremony you're having: religious, civil, military. Family traditions and the formality of your wedding ceremony will also influence the proceedings.

(Note: Your officiant can provide suggestions for wedding music. Or, have a look at our Top 90 Wedding Songs.)

Christian Wedding Ceremony

Most Christian wedding processionals and recessionals follow the same basic order, with the exception of the Catholic wedding ceremony, where the bride's father escorts her to the altar but does not give her away before taking his seat. Order in a Christian wedding ceremony is:

  • Officiant stands at the altar
  • Groom and best man enter from a side door and stand at the altar
  • Bridesmaids and ushers walk in pairs (if there are uneven numbers, the odd person can walk alone, or two maids or groomsmen can walk together).
  • The maid or matron of honor walks alone
  • The ring bearer walks alone, followed by the flower girl, or the children can walk together.
  • The bride and her father proceed, with the bride on her father's right arm

At the altar, the bride stands on the left, the groom on the right, facing the officiant. The best man stands beside the groom, with the ring bearer and ushers to his right. The maid of honor stands beside the bride, with the flower girl and bridesmaids to her left. (If your child attendants are too young to stand quietly throughout the wedding ceremony, it's fine to have them stop at the end of the aisle and sit with a waiting parent.)

Jewish Wedding Ceremony

Jewish wedding processionals and recessionals will vary with religious sects and local practices, but still follow a basic order:

  • Rabbi and cantor stand at the altar
  • Bride's grandparents proceed
  • Groom's grandparents proceed
  • Ushers proceed in pairs
  • Best man walks alone, after the ushers
  • The groom proceeds with his parents (father on his left arm, mother on his right)
  • Bridesmaids proceed in pairs
  • Maid or matron of honor walks alone, after the bridesmaids
  • Ring bearer walks
  • Flower girl walks
  • Finally, the bride proceeds with her parents (father on her left arm, mother on her right)

The Jewish wedding ceremony takes place around a wedding canopy, called a chuppah, under which the bride, groom, best man and maid of honor stand. If there's enough room, the couple's parents can also stand beneath the chuppah during the wedding ceremony; grandparents take their seats right after the processional.

Civil Ceremony

While there is no set order for a civil ceremony, a couple might borrow procedures from a religious ceremony, or create their own. What's most important is that the ceremony feels right to the bride and groom.

Military Wedding

Since military weddings can be civil or religious ceremonies, their orders will vary. The only other difference will be during the recessional, when the just-married couple retreats under the majestic arch of drawn swords.


Wedding ceremony and order of service

Many couples today are choosing to have a non-religious wedding ceremony, or be married by a friend or family member. Yet an important role of the officiant is to give you guidance in crafting your wedding ceremony, often following a predetermined format. If you are going the DIY route, I want to give you advice on creating a memorable and personal wedding ceremony. 

There is no standard wedding ceremony order, but they generally contain most of these elements: 

  1. Wedding processional or entrance of the bride and groom, and wedding party if applicable. Definition of a Processional
  2. Literature, love poetry, or religious wedding readings
  3. Romantic ceremony music
  4. Attendants or witnesses to sign the wedding certificate, ketubah, or marriage license
  5. Wedding Vows
  6. Exchange of wedding rings or gifts
  7. A blessing, benediction, community commitment to support the marriage, and/or officiant's sanction of the marriage 
  8. A first kiss as a married couple 
  9. recessional

Some weddings also include a unity candle ceremony or other unity ceremony.

You may choose to give an outline of your ceremony in your wedding program, or order of service.

Here is a sample of a non-denominational wedding ceremony:

Click here to read about correct order for the processional

The wedding should begin by welcoming your guests. In movies, one often sees 

Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today in the presence of these witnesses, to join ___________ and ___________ in matrimony, which is commended to be honorable among all men; and therefore is not by any to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, discreetly, advisedly and solemnly. Into this holy estate these two persons present now come to be joined. If any person can show just cause why they may not be joined together, let them speak now or forever hold their peace. 

Another variation is: 
Friends, we have been invited here today to share with ______ and ______ a very important moment in their lives. In the years they have been together, their love and understanding of each other has grown and matured, and now they have decided to live their lives together as husband and wife. 

The traditional wording is "Who gives this woman to be wedded to this man" but in modern weddings many couples opt for something such as "Who supports this couple in their marriage?" or "Who supports this woman in her marriage to this man?" or choose to leave it out altogether. Giving Away the Bride: Traditional and Modern Alternative Wordings 

This will generally set the tone of your wedding. It could be serious, humorous, sentimental, or elegant. Typically, it says something about love, relationships, or marriages. Here are some examples of wedding readings. 

Here the officiant says some words about marriage in general. He or she will most likely talk about the seriousness of the solemn vow you are about to make, and the new life together you are creating. 

click here for some sample wedding vow wording 


The bride and groom say something like "I (name) give you (name) this ring as an eternal symbol of my love and commitment to you." Sample ring ceremony vow wording 

Many couples are choosing to add a unity ceremony. They may choose to do this in silence, with music playing or they may create vows to say about the joining of their families. Unity candle wording, and alternative unity ceremonies 

This could be a poem, a prayer, or a sanctioning of the marriage. It is generally the "final thoughts" of the officiant. 

The officiant typically says something akin to "By the power vested in me by the State of _______, I now pronounce you husband and wife" or for same-sex couples, "I now pronounce you married." This is followed by the first kiss of the newly married couple. The officiant traditionally says, "You may now kiss the bride". Modern couples often find it strange for someone else to be giving permission to kiss a grown woman. So now, either the couple kiss immediately after the declaration of marriage or the officiant says something like "you may now kiss each other." 

The officiant says "I present to you Mr. and Mrs. ________" if they are changing their names, or "I present to you the newly married couple, Jane and John" if they are not. The guests stand and applaud, as the couple then lead the recessional out. 

Different types of wedding processionals

One of the grandest parts of any wedding ceremony is when thebridal party makes its entrance. The air is full of anticipation, and the groom anxiously awaits his first glimpse of his bride in her wedding dress. But do you know what order your bridal party should walk in? And who escorts the mother of the bride? 

Different types of wedding processionals
The order of wedding processionals follows a general pattern, but varies according to religious traditions. For example, here is aCatholic wedding processional:

The priest, groom, and best man enter through a side door and wait at the altar. 
The groomsmen and bridesmaids walk down in pairs, starting with the two who will stand farthest from the bride and groom, and ending with the best man and maid of honor. 
The ring bearer and/or flower girl
The bride and her father, or other close family member. The bride walks on the left side. If the bride's escort is her father, he leads her to the front of the aisle, then takes his seat next to the bride's mother.

See a sample Catholic wedding program

However, for a Jewish wedding processional, the order goes something like this:

The Rabbi and/or cantor
Grandparents of the bride, who are then seated in the first row
Grandparents of the groom, who are then seated in the first row
Groomsmen, walking in pairs
Best man
The groom, who is escorted by his parents. 
Maid or Matron of Honor
Ring bearer and/or flower girl 
The bride, escorted by her parents

And for a Protestant wedding, this is the traditional order of a wedding processional:
The mothers of the bride and groom are seated after all guests are seated, and immediately before the start of the processional music. They are usually escorted to their seats by a brother of the bride or groom, or by another usher. 
After they are seated, the officiant, groom and best man enter by a side door and wait at the altar. 
Groomsmen may also enter by a side door, or can escort the bridesmaids. 
Ring bearer and/or flower girl 
Maid or Matron of Honor
The bride, escorted by her father or other close male family member or friend. At the front of the aisle, her escort can remain standing with her until the minister asks "Who gives this woman in marriage?" to which he responds "I do," or "Her mother and I do." However, some people feel this tradition is old fashioned and sexist, and choose to forgo it. In such a case, her escort walks with the bride to the front of the aisle, and then takes his seat in the front row.Read more about Giving Away the Bride Traditions and Modern Alternatives

For a non-denominational ceremony, a secular ceremony, or a non-traditional ceremony,you can either borrow liberally from one of these traditions, or make up your own rules. 

In all cases, the bride traditionally stands on the left, and the groom on the right. This dates back to medieval times when the groom might need to defend his bride in the middle of the ceremony, and wanted to leave his right hand, his sword hand, free. While few grooms even carry a sword anymore, the tradition has lasted. 

A wedding processional using two aisles
People tackle the problem of two aisles in a variety of ways. You can choose to only use one aisle, but this means that many of your guests will feel far from the action. I often advise couples to do the processional up one aisle, and the recessional down the other. Another alternative is to have bridesmaids walk up one aisle, and groomsmen up the other. The bride and groom can then each choose an aisle to enter through. 

A wedding processional with a small bridal party
If you only have a few people in your bridal party, it's a good idea to send them up one by one. For example, if you had a best man, maid of honor, flower girl, and ring bearer this should be the order
Groom takes his place at the front
Best man enters
Maid of Honor walks up aisle
Ring Bearer
Flower Girl
Bride, with escort if she has one. 
With such a small wedding party, it's probably not formal enough to warrant a formal seating of the mothers and grandmothers. However, if you still want to do this, let the best man seat the grandmothers and the groom seat the mothers as part of their entrances. 

Don't forget to smile! It's a good idea to have either a coordinator, or a friend with a written list helping to line up the bridal party and telling each person when to go. They can stand just beyond where the guests can see them. They should also remind each person to smile when they're walking down the aisle!

Ceremony Chart (Traditional)



Wedding ceremony procession 
When the bridal car arrives at the church, an usher should be assigned to open the bride’s door, as her first step forward on the ground, wedding photographers andwedding videographers will start taking shots of the beautiful bride. The Chief Bridesmaid will then make a final check on the bridal gown and adjust anything that is not at the right place. The father of the bridewill lead the bride into the church with his right arm.

Timing, timing, timing…the pianist will be cued by either an usher or someone from the church whom has appointed when the bride arrives at the front door. Then the pianist will start playing the wedding marchwhich is pre-arranged by the bride from the Order of ceremony procession chart

(Click to enlarge Wedding Ceremony Procession Chart 1) As the father of the bride led her daughter through the aisles with grace and slow pace, the Chief Bridesmaid and Bridesmaid will form up at their appointed positions behind them. The bride’s pace must not be too fast, it should be of grace and beauty moving along with the music, that is why a rehearsal must take place a few weeks before the wedding day.









Click to enlarge Wedding Ceremony Procession 1)

The bride’s poise should not slouch or her eyes wander around at her guests, she should fix her eyes on the clergyman or the altar till she arrive beside the Groom standing on her right.(Click to enlarge Wedd


Generally, at the beginning of a Christian ceremony the best man and the groom wait at the altar while the groomsmen walk in from the side or accompanying bridesmaids (they also may wait at the altar with the other men). The bridesmaids then proceed down the aisle, starting with the attendant who will stand farthest from the bride at the altar. In a Jewish ceremony, the groomsmen walk in pairs, followed by the best man, the groom and his parents, and then the Ceremony Procession Standing Position Chart 2)

Wed, Oct 31 2012
Components of a Wedding Ceremony


Components of a Wedding Ceremony


Generally a wedding ceremony consists of several parts beginning with the Entrance of the Wedding Party usually to music then:


1. Welcome or Introduction done by the Officiant.

2. Presentation of the Bride to the Groom by either the parents or special person.

3. Reading of a Poem or Bible verse by Officiant or special person.

4. Recitation of the Wedding Vows either traditional or words written by the couple.

5. Exchange of rings and/or giving of gifts to children of the couple.

6. Any special event like lighting candles, drinking wine, or other special ceremony addition.

7. Declaration of Marriage where the Officiant declares the couple married and closing remarks.

8. The First Kiss as a Married Couple.

9. Exit or recessional usually to music.

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