Now that you have booked your venue, found your wedding officiant, and chosen your ceremony music, you need to research the bridal etiquette for your wedding processional. The processional is one of the most emotional, beautiful, and striking moments of your wedding. You want it to be done correctly. However, marriage traditions and customs do vary slightly, depending on your background or religion. Here are a few ways of ordering a wedding processional:
Protestant Wedding Processional
After all of the guests are seated, the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom are seated, typically by a brother of the bride or groom, groomsman or usher. If there are grandparents, they should be seated before the mothers, preferably by a brother or other member of the bridal party. Directly after the mothers are seated, the processional begins, with the priest, the groom, and the best man entering from the side.
You have a choice between having the groomsmen enter from the side and waiting onstage with the groom or best man, or having them escort the bridesmaids down the aisle. Currently, it is the trend to have the bridesmaids walk down the aisle by themselves, unescorted.
After each of the bridesmaids walk down the aisle, the ring bearer and flower girl make their way down the aisle. The maid or matron of honor follows. Lastly, the bride makes her entrance, usually with her father or another male family member or friend.
The minister usually asks the father, “Who gives this woman in marriage?” He responds, “I do,” taking his seat in the front row. This is the queue for the rest of the guests to sit down. Note: people are increasingly foregoing the practice of having the father give away the bride, as some consider it sexist.
Jewish Wedding Processional
The order of entrances is slightly different. First, the rabbi (or cantor) enters. Then, the grandparents of the bride enter and sit in the first row, followed by the grandparents of the groom, who also sit in the first row. The groomsmen then walk down the aisle in pairs, with the shortest first and the tallest last (except for the best man, who walks alone). The groom then enters, escorted by both of his parents (he is on his father’s right and his mother’s left). After, the bridesmaids enter (again, the shortest first, and the tallest last). The bridesmaids usually walk individually, unless there are more than five. Any child attendants then follow. The bride then enters on her father’s right arm and her mother’s left.
Catholic Wedding Processional
These processionals are nearly identical to Protestants’, with the priest, best man, and groom entering from the side. However, the groomsmen and bridesmaids usually walk down in pairs, with the first (and usually shortest) couple standing the furthest away from the bride and groom, making room for the rest of the bridal party to stand.
During your wedding processional, make sure to smile, even if you are emotional. Advise your bridal party to smile as well. The pictures will be far more flattering, and far less serious!