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Walking Down the Aisle During a Wedding Processional

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One of the most glorious part of any New Jersey wedding ceremony is when the bridal party makes its grand entrance walking down the aisle.  The air is full of anticipation, and the groom anxiously awaits his first glimpse of his bride in her wedding dress.  Here are some tips on what you should know about what order your bridal party should be walking down the aisle:

The Wedding Processional: Different Types

The order walking down the aisle of wedding processionals follows a general pattern, but varies according to religious traditions. For example, here is a Catholic wedding processional:

The priest, groom, and best man enter through a side door and wait at the altar.
The groomsmen and bridesmaids walk down the aisle in pairs, starting with the two who will stand farthest from the bride and groom, and ending with the best man and maid of honor.
The ring bearer and/or flower girl then walk down the aisle.
The bride and her father, or other close family member. The bride walks on the left side. If the bride's escort is her father, he leads her down the aisle to the front of the aisle, then takes his seat next to the bride's mother.

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A Jewish Wedding Processional, the walking down the aisle order goes like this:

The Rabbi and/or cantor, walk down the aisle first.
Grandparents of the bride, who are then seated in the first row, walk down the aisle next.
Grandparents of the groom, who are then seated in the first row, walk down the aisle.
Groomsmen, come walking down the aisle in pairs
Best man
The groom, who is escorted by his parents down the aisle.
Bridesmaids
Maid or Matron of Honor
Ring bearer and/or flower girl
The bride, escorted by her parents
come walking down the aisle.

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A Protestant Wedding Processional 

This is the traditional walking down the aisle order of a wedding processional:
The mothers of the bride and groom are seated after all guests are seated, and immediately before the start of the processional music.  They are usually escorted down the aisle to their seats by a brother of the bride or groom, or by another usher.
After they are seated, the officiant, groom and best man enter by a side door and wait at the altar.
Groomsmen may also enter by a side door, or can escort the bridesmaids down the aisle.
Bridesmaids walk down the aisle
Ring bearer and/or flower girl walk down the aisle
Maid or Matron of Honor walks down the aisle
The bride, escorted by her father or other close male family member or friend, the walk down the aisle.  At the front of the aisle, her escort can remain standing with her until the minister asks "Who gives this woman in marriage?" to which he responds "I do," or "Her mother and I do."  However, some people feel this tradition is old-fashioned and sexist, and choose not to do it.  In such a case, her escort walks with the bride to the front of the aisle, and then takes his seat in the front row.
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A Non-Denominational Wedding Ceremony, or a Non-Traditional Wedding Ceremony Wedding Processional:

You can either borrow wedding processional ideas from these wedding ceremony traditions, or create your own.

In all cases, the bride traditionally stands on the left, and the groom on the right, with the wedding officiant in the center.  This dates back to medieval times when the groom might need to defend his bride in the middle of the wedding ceremony, and wanted to leave his right hand, his sword hand, free.  While few grooms even carry a sword, this tradition has lasted.

A Double Aisle Wedding Processional
People tackle the problem of two aisles in a variety of ways.  You can choose to only use one aisle, but this means that many of your wedding guests will feel far from the action.  Here's some ideas: Have the wedding processional walk up one aisle, and the wedding recessional down the other.  Another alternative is to have bridesmaids walk down one aisle, and groomsmen down the other.  The bride and groom can then each choose an aisle to enter through.

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A Wedding Processional for a Small Bridal Party
If you only have a few people in your bridal party, it's a good idea to have them walk down the aisle one by one.  For example, if you had a best man, maid of honor, flower girl, and ring bearer this should be the order of walking down the aisle:
Groom takes his place at the front
Best man enters
Maid of Honor walks down the aisle
Ring Bearer walks down the aisle
Flower Girl walks down the aisle
Bride, with escort if she has one, walks down the aisle.
With such a small wedding party, it's probably not formal enough to warrant a formal seating of the mothers and grandmothers.  However, if you still want to do this, let the best man seat the grandmothers and the groom seat the mothers as part of their entrances.

Don't forget to smile!

It's a good idea to have either a coordinator, or a friend with a written list helping to line up the bridal party and telling each person when to start walking down the aisle.  They can stand just beyond where the wedding guests can see them.  They can also remind each person to smile when they are walking down the aisle!

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