You are thinking about your wedding ceremony procession – can’t you just hear the music already! Whether is to the strains of Wagner’s traditional “Wedding March” or the charming Beatles song, “All You Need Is Love,” the beginning of your wedding ceremony says so much about your wedding day and your relationship.
Everyone is excited as the wedding party enters. Who is in the wedding? What are they wearing? Is the flower girl scattering rose petals? But primarily they want to see the emotion on the faces of the bride and groom and share that moment with you.
Whether you have a traditional religious ceremony in a church or temple or a ceremony in a reception hall or outdoors, you will most likely have a procession, and that is as it should be. A ceremony is “time out of time. ” That is to say, your ceremony is a moment when your regular life stops and something special takes place. A ceremony has a beginning, and for a wedding, it is the entrance of the wedding party that indicates that the ceremony has begun.
Unless you are bound by tradition or religious requirements, you may want to take a fresh look at how a wedding procession can kick off your wedding day with symbolism, meaning, and creativity.
The first question is “Who will be in the procession?” Just the wedding party? Or will you also include others? Others could include grandparents, godparents, aunts and uncles, guests in ethnic costume, or even your pet.
The traditional procession has the groom and his party, along with the officiant, stand in their places as the bride and her party enter down the aisle. An alternative is to have ALL the wedding party come down the aisle. If you choose to have all the wedding party enter via walking down the aisle, the most typical order goes like this:
The bride’s mother with an escort (a brother, uncle, close friend, etc.)
The groom’s parents
The best man
The maid or matron of honor
Ring bearer(s) and flower girl(s)
The bride, escorted by her father
One alternative to this typical order is to have the groom’s attendants and bride’s attendants enter as couples. Another alternative is to have the men and women alternate as they process to the ceremony space. Depending upon the setting, sometimes the attendants may enter using a side aisle, leaving the center aisle for the bride’s entrance.
Some couples choose to have both their parents escort them down the aisle. The symbolism is deep and rich in meaning. They gave you life, brought you up, and now are brimming with happiness for you on this singular day in your life.
Some couples opt to walk down the aisle together to symbolize that they are presenting themselves to be married before all assembled. Some brides elect to enter on their own to show they are taking that last step of on their own as they prepare join their life partner in marriage.
The bride’s entrance is often heralded by the word from the officiant to stand for the bride. If you don’t want that to happen, let your officiant know. As the bride, if you will be having a veil over your face as you enter, confer with your officiant about when you want the veil lifted. If you lift the veil at the outset of the ceremony, that ritual often becomes part of the procession “choreography.”
Some brides request that a white runner be in place for their entrance. It is a time-honored symbol that the bride has a special walkway to enter her wedding ceremony. Take a look at the aisle for your ceremony. Don’t forget someone will have to roll out the runner just before you enter. Picture someone’s rear end quite visible to your guests as he or she bends over to secure the runner. If you are outdoors, picture every little breeze making the runner crumple up or blow off to one side no matter how much duct tape you use. Well, you get the idea. You decide how much the runner means to you. You can probably guess my vote.
A word about children in the wedding party: Children under about four years of age may be frightened by all the people looking at them as they enter or they may forget what they are supposed to do. To help them and comfort them, designate a “Kid Wrangler” to be with them and even walk down the aisle with them if needed. Leave open the option for them to not participate, even at the last minute, if it is too much for them.
With these young children and also older children, talk with them several times before the ceremony to help them picture what they will be doing. Make clear plans for where the children will be positioned during the ceremony – whether it is to stand with the adults in the wedding party or to sit in the front row.
Selection of wedding procession music is one of the ways that you can demonstrate your creativity for your wedding. If the tone of your ceremony is traditional and serious, you will gravitate to the classic processional music – such as Wagner’s “Wedding March,” Purcell’s “Trumpet Voluntary,” or Vivaldi’s “Water Music.” You can “Google” wedding procession music and find a wider selection of these classic favorites. If your ceremony is more informal and your musical tastes run to the popular – your choices can range from jazz to Broadway tunes and beyond. Again the internet or your playlist will lead you to something you like.
The source of your music, live or recorded, for your procession may also dictate your music choices. If you have live music such as a string quartet or an acoustic guitar soloist, your selections will depend upon their repertoire. If you are using a DJ, your choices are probably unlimited as long as you can find music the DJ has on file.
If you are getting married in a church or temple, find out from the clergy person who will manage your procession. If you are getting married in a reception hall, your maître d will most likely line up and cue your wedding party’s entrance. Add this to your checklist of things to talk about with them.
If you are having a wedding ceremony without a support staff (for example, in your backyard or a park), designate a friend to be your Procession Manager. That person will line up the procession at the appointed time, cue the musicians and officiant, and coach the wedding attendants on their pace and timing of their entrance. The procession doesn’t just happen…you need to have someone be in charge who can execute your wishes so you can savor the moment you walk down the aisle.
The music has started, and it’s time for your wedding party to enter the ceremony space. All your wedding plans now come to life. Have a wonderful wedding ceremony.