Traditional wedding follow certain traditional rules and order of the bridal party procession is one of them. According to the ethnic background, physical dispositions of the wedding venue and personal preferences of the bridal party these rules can be adapted and we'll present the main rules with some possible creative adjustments.
Traditional Order Of Bridal Party Down The Aisle For Catholic Ceremony
- entrance of mother of the bride traditionally opens the ceremony with her walking down the aisle and sitting in the front row (on the left side) but she may be sitted before or can enter together with the bride and bride's father;
- priest or other officiant comes next (usually through side door) or already waits at the altar;
- groom and best man come right after the priest (in most cases they enter through side door), they stop on the right of the altar, facing the guests (possible variation: best man enters later as an escort of the maid of honor);
- bridesmaids enter next, sometimes accompanying with groomsmen (men are always on the right), sometimes alone and following by groomsmen, in both cases they enter through the main entrance and walk down the aisle until they stop at altar, bridesmaids on the left, groomsmen on the right (best man and maid of honor are closest to the groom and the bride, each on one side);
- a maid (or matron) of honor enters last from the bridal attendants, if she is not alone, best man accompanies her (this order dictates another rule – groomsman and bridesmaid who will stand farthest from the bride and the groom enter first from the bridal procession, which, when stops, in any case faces guests);
- next is a ring bearer (in some cases there are two ring bearers) and a flower girl (or girls) right after him, but in some cases flower girl and ring bearer enter at the same time, or both of them come before the maid of honor;
- depending on their ages the ring bearer and the flower girl stand with the bridal party or sit at their parents (typically in one of the front three rows, which are traditionally reserved for the closest friends and relatives);
- bride enters last of all, she may be accompanying with her father (traditionally on her right, but may be on her left as well, so when she stops nobody stays between her and the groom), or by both parents, by tradition both parents (if mother of the bride is not already sitting) sit in the front row, when the bride stops at the altar.
Many variations are possible, including the groom coming alone and only after the groomsmen. Different approaches to the traditional order of wedding procession is especially true with families where a divorce or death of one or both parents and second marriage took place, so a step parent may or may not be included. These situations can be very sensible, so it's always, no matter your religious or ethnic background, best to politely discuss the roles of everybody involved way before the first rehearsal.
Interesting tradition to note: bride is traditionally on groom's left side what could be traced to old custom of kidnapping, where groom had to count on possibility to defend his bride from possible rescuers or other suitors, so he needed his right hand (and a sword) free.
Order of Wedding Party At Jewish Ceremony
- first enter the rabbi and cantor (with cantor on rabbi's right) or only one of them;
- grandparents of the bride walk down the aisle and sit in the first row on the right;
- groom's grandparents enter after them and sit in the first row on the left;
- groomsmen follow, walking two by two with best man as the last (he walks alone), all stand under the huppah;
- then the groom enters, escorted by both parents (mother on his left and father on his right), they also stop under the huppah and traditionally remain standing on groom's right, however parents may be seated as well;
- bridesmaids enter one by one (if their number if up to four) or in pairs, with maid of honor as the last (she walks down the aisle alone) and stop under the huppah on the bride's side;
- other honor attendants follow them and stand with rest of the bridal party or sit in the first row,
Of course there are many alternatives to this order, with the one, where both mothers escort the bride and both fathers walk with the groom definitely worth to mention. The only fixed 'requirement' is probably the groom comes before the bride, what is interpreted with biblical story about Adam, who had to wait for Eve.
As we can see, the main difference from catholic processional order is typically more people are involved and the reverse position of bride and groom with their attendants (she is on his right). In some cases all guests stand out through all the ceremony.
Bridal Party Procession At Philippines Catholic Ceremony
- priest stand by the altar before the procession starts;
- best man enters as the first, groomsmen follow him;
- next comes the groom with his parents (mother on his left, father on his right);
- primary (principal) sponsors (veil sponsors) march behind the groom;
- secondary sponsors (cord sponsors) follow them;
- ring bearer, coin bearer and bible bearer are next in procession, entering one by one;
- flower girl is next in order of the Filipino wedding processional order;
- bridesmaids come next, with maid (matron) of honor as the last before the bride;
- bride enters with her parents (alternately only her father accompanies her, in this case the groom (who still enters before the sponsors) comes with his mother and his father follows them closely accompanying by the mother of the bride).
At traditional Filipino wedding ceremonies all guests stand out when the bride enters. At marches and seatings women are also always on the left of men, although the explanation of this tradition is different than at catholic weddings: women represent yin and should be always on the right of male yang energy.
Another interesting characteristic is presence of sponsors which play a role similar of godfathers or godmothers, but for newlyweds instead of the individuals. They are chosen by a couple to have certain roles at the ceremony (placing the veil, lighting the candle, entwining the cord, …). Typical set of sponsors consist of three couples for primary and three for secondary sponsors.
Wedding Processional Order For Protestant Ceremony
- both mothers (bride's and groom's) are seated in the first row just before the ceremony starts;
- the officiant, the groom and the best man enter through the side door or alternately already wait at the altar;
- groomsmen enter (in most cases also through the side entrance, but other options are also possible, including as escorts of the bridesmaids);
- bridesmaids follow with maid or matron of honor as the last;
- ring bearer and / or flower girl follow the bridesmaids, alternately the maid of honor comes after them;
- other honor attendants are next to enter and walk down the isle;
- bride enters last and is traditionally escorted by her father or other close family member or friend who may stand by her until the officiant starts the ceremony or sit down before that.
Positions of standings and seatings at protestant wedding are basically the same as at catholic weddings (bride on the left, groom on the right).
Secular Or Other Non-traditional Ceremony And Conclusion
- you may borrow from any of presented orders of entrance or make your rules, program etiquette today is more flexible than ever.
By the way: recession is typically procession reversed in all cases. While there are many other options which may be used, the main rules are the same in all cases:
- Discuss the order of bridal processional at least few weeks before the rehearsal and be sure about each role. Consult the wedding dictionary, if necessary!
- Have several rehearsals and be very cautious to details (where will each member stand, how fast will everybody walk, etc.).
- Don't forget to smile. It's a start of very long day and definitely one of the most important ones in your life!