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Wedding Tips

All About the Wedding Processional: Order, Escorting Etiquette, and Cute Ideas

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Wedding procession order and tips

The wedding processional typically involves more than just your bridesmaids and flower girl. The processional actually begins when VIP family members are escorted to their seats, and ends with the bride (and her father, traditionally). So who walks down first? Who escorts who?

I’m a Virginia wedding photographer who has captured dozens and dozens of wedding ceremonies. I’ve seen traditional wedding processionals, non-traditional wedding processionals, and simple wedding processionals alike. Let’s dive into all the options you have so you can plan a ceremony that feels true to you.

Traditional Wedding Processional

The order for a traditional wedding processional typically goes like this:

  1. Officiant
  2. Grandparents
  3. Parents of the Groom
  4. Mother of the Bride
  5. Groom (and Groomsmen, or Groomsmen shortly after)
  6. Bridal Party (together, or Groomsmen first then bridesmaids)
  7. Ring Bearer
  8. Flower Girl
  9. Bride (and Father of the Bride, or whoever may be escorting the bride)

Some tips to keep in mind. Groom’s family typically walks down first so that they can watch their son/grandson walk down the aisle. Additionally, there are a few acceptable variations within this order based upon preference and/or family situations.

Non-Traditional Processional Variations

Variations to the above processional order can be made according to preference or family situations. For example, sometimes “Groom’s Parents” includes step parents. Or perhaps there is a preference on how bridal party proceeds down the aisle. Let’s get into it!

If there are separated/remarried parents, I have typically seen Mom honored first. In this case, Mom and her husband (the step-father) walk down first. Then Dad (and his wife, the step-mother) walks after. Or, if there is a closer relationship with Dad than Mom, there is no rule set in stone saying Dad can’t walk down first. The same can be said with grandparents, but typically elders walk before parents.

When do siblings walk down the aisle if they’re not in the wedding party? I’ve rarely seen siblings “walking” down the aisle as part of the wedding processional unless they are in the wedding party or escorting a family member. In this case, siblings are usually already seated amongst guests in one of the first rows with the rest of the family’s reserved seats. Or, consider having your siblings usher guests to their seats or escort VIP family members.

Who escorts who down the aisle?

  • Mother of the Groom: The oldest son typically escorts the Mother of the Groom, if the Groom is not the oldest himself. Dad usually follows close behind on his own. Or if the groom only has sisters, I’ve also seen the Father of the Groom escort his wife.
  • Grandmothers: Then the next oldest son typically escorts the grandmother(s). Or, if there are married couples, it is perfectly acceptable to have Grandpa escort Grandma.
  • Mother of the Bride: I’ve rarely seen the Father of the Bride escorting the Mother of the Bride, because his grand entrance typically happens with his daughter. In this case, Brother(s) of the Bride are usually tasked with walking Mom down the aisle, or I’ve even seen her walking in lockstep with her father (Grandfather of the Bride) right behind the escorted Grandmother of the Bride.
  • Siblings: For siblings not already playing the role of escort/usher for elder members of the family, they are typically already seated like guests. They are not traditionally a part of the processional unless they are part of the wedding party.
  • Other options: Trust friends who are deemed “ushers” or even your groomsmen to help Grandma, Mom, or others down the aisle. Usually ushers are looking for something to do anyway, so they’re more than happy to help.
A groomsman walks the Grandmother of the Bride down the aisle during a wedding processional. Click to read more tips on wedding procession order from a Virginia wedding photographer.

Simple Wedding Processional Options

If all of this seems overwhelming and a bit much for your wedding style, don’t fret! Tradition isn’t everything. You can easily simplify processionals by removing folks from the order or combining. Here are a few ideas I’ve seen that still feel sacred and special:

  • Have the groomsmen escort the bridesmaids down the aisle.
  • Have the groom walk down with the officiant, or with his Mom and Dad!
  • Send the ring bearer and flower girl down together. For young kids, sometimes this even works best because they feel like they have a buddy if they are nervous.
  • Don’t have a bridal party! This is becoming more popular, especially when there is some fear of drama being created in who gets picked (and who doesn’t… here are some tips on that.)
  • If the bride’s father is no longer around, or she is not close with her parents, have a brother, cousin, grandfather, uncle, or even the groom himself escort her down!
  • Here’s a fun one… have the groomsmen be your “flower dudes”! Give them each a fanny pack full of petals and some cool sunglasses and ask them to swag walk down the aisle while flicking petals the whole way down! It will be a riot that your guests remember.

The point is, make it your own! It’s your wedding day, and though your ceremony is the most sacred part of the day, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t feel like you.

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