Your Wedding Processional Order: Who Walks When

Wedding Processional Order
Source: Amanda May Photography

Most brides have seen enough rom-coms to know that the last person to walk down the aisle will typically be them. But when it comes to the rest of the wedding processional order, and who walks down when, it can all get quite confusing. We’re here to help you with general guidelines for who walks first, who walks next, and who can walk together.

What is a Wedding Processional?

The wedding processional is the order your wedding party walks down the aisle. It typically has its own music separate from the bride’s entrance. Here is a general overview of a traditional wedding processional.

1. Officiant

For nondenominational and Jewish weddings, the officiant or rabbi will usually be the first to walk down the aisle at the wedding ceremony. In Christian weddings, they may enter from the side.

2. Grandparents

The bride’s grandparents can also begin the wedding processional, after which they will take a seat in the first row. (Note: in Christian weddings, the bride’s side is to the left of the aisle. For Jewish wedding processionals, the bride’s is on the right side). The grandparents of the groom will typically follow the bride’s grandparents, taking a side on the alternate side of the aisle.

3. Mother of the Bride

If the officiant is entering from the side and/or grandparents are not walking down the aisle, then the mother of the bride would start the processional traditions, and then take a seat in the first row to the left of the aisle. In Jewish weddings, both of the bride’s parents will walk them down the aisle.

SEE MORE: Who Should Walk Down the Aisle First at Our Wedding?

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Wedding Processional Order Image
The officiant typically walks down the aisle first

4. Bridesmaids & Groomsmen

Bridesmaids and groomsmen can walk down separately, or you may pair them together. Though there is no set rule to their procession order, many brides choose to pair up bridesmaids and groomsmen based on height and/or significance to the bride and groom. Once down the aisle, the groomsmen will line up at the altar next to the groom, and the bridesmaids next to the bride.

5. Best Man

The best man follows the bridesmaids and groomsmen and can walk down alone or with the maid or matron of honor. He may also be the holder of the wedding rings, and will stand next to the groom at the altar.

SEE MORE: 13 Best Man Duties You Won’t Want to Forget

6. Maid of Honor

Should you choose to have the maid and/or matron of honor walk down separately, they should follow the best man. They will stand next to you at the altar alongside your wedding party (typically on the left side), and will hold your bouquet as you say “I do!”

7. Groom

The groom walks down next, and can walk down alone or escorted by his mother and father. In Jewish weddings, the bride and groom’s parents, as well as all siblings will stand underneath the Chuppah with the bride & groom. The groom can also enter the ceremony from the side of the room followed by the groomsmen, best man and the officiant, an option used in many Christian weddings.

8. Officiant

The officiant may choose his or her place in the ceremony based on tradition. They may select the option of approaching the altar from the side of the room with the groom or may choose to be the first of the processional before the grandparents of the bride. You can speak with your officiant about his or her preferences when you meet prior to the wedding.

9. Ring Bearer & Flower Girl

Your adorable ring bearers and flower girls are up next. The flower girl is typically the last one to walk down the aisle before the bride, and will scatter flower petals from a basket or hold the ring pillow (if not having a ring bearer).

10. Bride

The bride walks down the aisle last with her father or other honored escort. The escort will lift the veil and kiss the bride before the bride approaches the groom at the altar. If the bride has a stepfather, she can also consider being walked down the aisle by both, or having her stepfather walk her halfway down the aisle to meet her biological father, then he will escort her to the groom.

Wedding Processional Order FAQ

Who walks down the aisle first?

The first member of the wedding party to walk down the aisle first is usually the officiant.

Which mother walks down the aisle first?

Typically the parents of groom walk down first, followed by the mother of the bride with an usher. For LGBTQ+ weddings (or any wedding!) you can of course choose to change that order. At Jewish weddings, the mother of the bride would escort the bride down the aisle along with the father of the bride.

Who walks you down the aisle when you don’t have parents?

This can be a difficult and emotional decision, however it is completely up to you. You may choose to have your partner’s father walk you down the aisle, or you could have a close family member or friend walk you down the aisle. If you can choose someone who makes you happy and feel comforted, that is best!

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  1. Be careful with this. Much of the order above is reverse of Emily Post formal etiquette. Before people could read, the processional was your lineage on parade. Grandparents (Groom’s first followed by Bride’s) gave birth to the parents, (If divorced FOG first and then MOG) gave birth to the couple, with Mother of the Bride last to be seated as a place of honor before the Bridal Party. That they all walked showed their ascent to the marriage and to the joining of their assets. The Groom and Best Man were either first or he was already up there. Since seeing one another for pictures is a relatively new thing, and not all do a reveal, the Groom in place already gives the Bride more freedom of movement without being seen. The traditional order of the bridal party was the first to enter standing the farthest away and then working closer to the center where the Bride will stand. Today we do whatever works best in the moment. However, it is also good to be aware of the what and whys of what were once hard and fast rules. If one of you grew up in a family where your mother would have been mortified if you used the wrong fork first or reached for the person next to you’s bread at a formal table… the traditional order is something good to know and then adjust to functionality.

  2. Hi! Check out #7. 🙂 She would walk down with the groom if she is solo, or the groom could choose to walk down with both of his parents. However traditionally the groom’s parents aren’t part of the formal processional.