A processional is an important element of any wedding ceremony.  It helps to separate this special moment from the every day, as most people don’t get grand entrances, complete with music, escorts, and flowers, too often.  It also helps to honor special people in your life who have contributed and supported you, by giving them a special moment as well.

Typically, anyone who you would give flowers to (corsage, bouts, etc) is involved with the processional.  This usually includes:

  • Grandparents
  • Parents
  • Bridesmaids
  • Groomsmen
  • Ring Bearers
  • Flower Girls
  • Bride
  • Groom

It does NOT usually include:

  • Readers
  • Ushers

Which isn’t to say it can’t.

Sometimes the officiant is part of the processional as well, usually as the first person to enter.  With my ceremonies, I usually enter at the very beginning, a bit more casually, prior to the music beginning, and make an announcement, cuing the actual processional to start.

In more traditional ceremonies, the groom, best man, and groomsmen are already standing at the front, having entered from the side with the officiant, or they were already milling around prior to the ceremony, greeting guests and perhaps acting as ushers, and casually make their way to the front, prior to the music and seating of honored guests.

And then the music begins.

If the groom is planning to enter as part of the processional, he can enter at this point, to stand a the front and watch the rest of the processional.  If the bride and groom are not seeing each other before the ceremony, I recommend the groom enter now, so there’s not a chance of them spying each other.

The honored guests are seated next, in the following order:

  • Groom’s grandparents
  • Bride’s grandparents
  • Groom’s parents
  • Bride’s parents

Usually, any women without an escort can be walked down by an usher or a groomsmen.  Often times, the bride’s mother will not have an escort, because the bride’s father will be entering with the bride – an usher, groomsmen, or sibling of the bride and groom can escort her, or she can walk by herself.

Next, comes the bridal party:

  • Groomsmen, with the Best Man last (if not already standing at the front)
  • Ring Bearer
  • Bridesmaids, with the Maid of Honor last
  • Flower Girl

Sometimes, my couples will choose to have the bridal party walk in together – bridesmaids and groomsmen paired up, to escort each other down the aisle.  This is an option as well, and one that I really love.  I think it shows how your friends are there to support you, since it’s the two sets of friends coming together.  If you choose to go that route, you can also have the ring bearer and flower girl enter together, or separately, if you choose.

I almost always recommend that kids, when they get to the front, are seated with their parents or reliable friend / relative.  Have them sit in the first or second row, so they can easily get there, with a little prompting from the officiant.  Kids wiggle a lot, and you want to make sure they’re comfortable and not distracting during the ceremony.

And then – the music changes – there’s a moment, and the congregation usually stands up (with or without my prompting!)

And the bride enters, escorted by her father, her brother, her mom, her children, her grandfather, her uncle, or someone else equally important.

Once she comes to the front, her escort lifts her veil up (if she has a blusher), gives her a big kiss and hug, and greets the groom.  Her escort is then seated, the groom takes her hand, and they walk towards the officiant together.

Now – of course – there are near ENDLESS variations and tweaks and changes that can happen with the processional – let me try and focus on a few of my favorites, as they can easily become overwhelming.

I LOVE when the groom gets a big moment in the processional, too.  My favorite is borrowed from the Jewish tradition:  after the bridal party enters, the groom is escorted to the chuppah by BOTH of his parents, followed by the bride, also escorted by both of her parents.  I think this is a great way to incorporate your parents into this important moment in your lives, as well as make sure that the groom gets a bit of the spotlight on HIS big day, too!

Can’t decide between two escorts (maybe – your dad and step-dad? divorced parents that don’t want to walk you in together?)  This usually works if there’s a bit of a walk to the actual aisle, but can be adapted easily.  Have one of them walk you from your entrance point, to the beginning of the aisle, where the other is waiting for you.  They swap, and the second escort walks you to the groom.

This can also work with the groom acting as the second escort – have him enter just before you, and wait at the beginning of the aisle.  Your first escort will walk to the groom, give you a kiss, and the groom and the bride will then walk up the aisle, together.  I love that.

Your officiant will probably have some suggestions and ideas for you as well.  If it helps, you can always sketch out ideas and plans to have a better understanding of the order you’d like everyone to enter.  It’s an important element of your ceremony, and one that can really set the tone for the rest of the wedding!