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Who Sits Where, When? 5 Tips for a Mistake-free Wedding Ceremony

BeautilfulBride_400Whether you’re planning a traditional or modern ceremony, make sure it runs smoothly—and gracefully. From My Fair Wedding: Finding Your Vision… Through His Revisions!

The processional is the part of your wedding ceremony that builds the drama for the bride’s big arrival. It starts with the bridal party entering the ceremony space and concludes as soon as the bride, in all her glory, meets her groom at the altar. During the recessional, the bridal party typically exits the ceremony in the reverse order of the processional. The recessional marks the end of the ceremony and the beginning of the happy couple’s married life together. There are two basic procession orders—traditional and contemporary. And then there are unconventional variations, which you’ll see in traditional Jewish ceremonies (during which the parents of the bride and groom and the bridal party stand beneath a chuppah, a ceremony canopy, with the bride and groom) or when the bride and groom simply choose to break from tradition. Here’s a closer look at the basic procession orders:

During a traditional ceremony, the events leading up to the processional go as follows: Just before the processionalmusic begins, and after all of the guests are seated, the mothers of the bride and groom are escorted to their seats. Next, the officiant, groom, and best man enterthe ceremony through a side door and wait at the altar. Groomsmen may also enter through a side door, or they may escort the bridesmaids down the aisle.The traditional procession order is:

  1. Bridesmaids (alone or escorted by groomsmen)
  2. Ring bearer and/or flower girl
  3. Maid or matron of honor
  4. Bride, escorted by her father, a father figure, or a male friend

During a contemporary ceremony, the procession order goes like this:

  1. Officiant
  2. Grandparents of the groom (who are then seated in the first row)
  3. Grandparents of the bride (who are then seated in the first row)
  4. The mother of the bride, escorted by an usher and then seated in the first row
  5. Groomsmen
  6. Best man
  7. Groom, escorted by his parents
  8. Bridesmaids
  9. Maid or matron of honor
  10. Ring bearer and/or flower girl
  11. Bride, escorted by her father, a father figure, or a male friend

Here are some tips to help ensure that both your processional and recessional run like clockwork:

Plan everything ahead of time! There are many things to consider. Will your parents be standing or seated? Who will need reserved seats? Who will escort family members to their reserved seats? Will your bridal party be walking in/out as couples or singles? If you don’t have a wedding planner or if your officiant or the venue staff will not be helping you with these details, assign someone from your bridal party or a family member to help coordinate.

Have your bridal party walk down the aisle at a nice, leisurely pace. No speedwalking—or dawdling! You also need to have a good amount of space between the pairs/singles. In general, as soon as one person/couple reaches the center of the aisle, the next person/couple should proceed. And most important, no choreographed dancing . . . unless your goal is to be on YouTube.

When your officiant pronounces you and your groom husband and wife, I beg you not to make out like you’re a couple of amorous teenagers. A short romantic kiss is appropriate for everyone to witness—and a sweet way to begin your wedding celebration.

Likewise, before your recessional, please don’t do a fist pump or raise your bouquet up in the air as if you just won a marathon. Walk out as gracefully as you walked in.


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