Wedding Processionals: A Complete Guide!
If the wedding ceremony order in which you walk down the aisle is a confusing, don’t worry! Since most ceremonies follow a very similar format, learning the wedding order shouldn’t be too hard if you’ve been to a few weddings as a guest.
There are several choices to consider when it comes to wedding processional order. Different religions and cultures will also have their own unique elements. The processional (entry) and recessional (exit) order of your ceremony will be influenced by the number of your wedding party and other choices. As a result, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common ones to assist you understand more about different ceremony order options.
Traditional Wedding Ceremony
L+G Wedding at Liberty Grand
Traditional wedding ceremonies are some of our favourite to film as Toronto wedding videographers, and are great for couples that seek a more traditional wedding celebration while keeping the “classic” ambience. The ceremony starts with an introduction by the officiant, followed by the exchange of vows and rings. After the first kiss, the couple is declared husband and wife. The following is a list of the ceremony’s highlights:
A conventional wedding ceremony begins with the processional, as it does with most ceremonies.
This is when the wedding party’s immediate family members walk down the aisle and assume their seats or positions at the altar. The officiant leads the procession, followed by the bride’s mother. The groom, best man, and wedding party follow the flower girl or ring bearer into the chamber. The bride is then escorted into the room by her father, who is about to present his daughter to the groom.
The officiant will say a few words to thank everyone for arriving and go through any ceremony requirements after everyone has taken their seats.
The officiant will then begin the ceremony by introducing the couple and saying a few words about marriage. This is usually a summary of your relationship and your feelings on marriage.
Readings can be included in your ceremony but are not mandatory. Speakers will be brought up to give a few words with attendees if you chose to include them. Before each reading, you can have your officiant present the reader or have each reader come up on their own.
The officiant addresses the couple and reminds them of their responsibilities in their marriage.
The couple will take turns reciting their vows to one another after the readings and the officiant’s address. You have the option of having the officiant recite conventional vows or writing your own.
Exchange of Rings
The wedding bands will be placed on each other’s fingers once your vows have been exchanged, symbolizing your marriage to one another. Before you put the ring on, you can usually speak a few words about what the ring means to you.
Following the exchange of vows and rings, the officiant will ask you to seal your marriage with a kiss and announce you to your guests as husband and wife.
If you want to have a unity ceremony, it’s better to do it just after your first kiss. The couple will include something as a physical representation of their marriage in this ceremony. Using two candles to light a single candle, or putting two coloured sands into a single vase and blending the colours together, are examples of this. This represents the fact that the only way to end a marriage is for each coloured grain of sand to be separated from the others.
The officiant will often deliver a few words of encouragement to the couple and bless their union at traditional ceremonies. The marriage licence is frequently signed here as well.
If the officiant has not yet done so after the first kiss, he will generally shift his attention to the guests and announce the wedded couple. As the newlyweds lead the recessional, he will ask guests to congratulate them. As the wedding party leaves, the order is usually in reverse order of the wedding party’s arrival.
Traditional Christian Wedding Ceremony
T+D Wedding at The Guild Inn Estate
Typical Christian wedding ceremonies are among our favourite to shoot because they are comparable to traditional wedding rituals but add religious elements. Before the readings and the exchange of vows and rings, the officiant will offer an introduction. A Unity Ceremony is held prior to the wedding’s conclusion. The following is a list of the ceremony’s highlights:
The processional is the first part of the ceremony. The wedding party and immediate family members will proceed down the aisle and assume their seats or positions on the altar. It is typical for the officiant, groom, and best man to lead the procession. The remaining family members and bridal party then make their way down the aisle, followed by the father walking down the aisle with the bride, who will be “given away” to the groom.
After everyone has taken their seats, the officiant will say a few words to thank everyone for coming and go over any rules that may have been forgotten before officially starting the ceremony.
After that, the officiant will begin the ceremony by saying a few words about marriage and what it entails. The officiant will also say a few words about your relationship and what marriage means to you.
Speakers will come up to the altar and share a few remarks with guests if you choose to include readings in your ceremony. This can be a passage or their own words. You have the option of having the officiant introduce the speaker or having each reader come forward on their own.
The officiant will speak with the couple and remind them of their responsibilities in their marriage to one another as well as the vows that will be exchanged during this time.
Following the readings, each partner will say vows to the other. Standard vows are frequently given by the officiant, but you can also create your own vows for each other.
Exchange of Rings
The couple will then place their wedding bands on each other’s fingers after reading their vows. You can often opt to put on the rings and say a few words about what they mean to you.
The officiant will ask you to seal your marriage with a kiss and be introduced officially as husband and wife to your guests and wedding party after the vows and ring exchange.
The couple will use something as a physical depiction of their marriage in this ceremony. Using two candles to light a single candle or putting two coloured sands into a single vase and mixing the colours together are common examples. This symbolizes the fact that the only way to end a marriage is for each coloured grain of sand to be separated from the others.
This is where the last prayer is said in a religious ceremony. A closing prayer is equivalent to a last blessing. A blessing might also consist of a few words of encouragement for the couple as well as a blessing for their union.
If he hasn’t done so before, the officiant will shift his attention to the guests and present the newlyweds. As the recessional walks down the aisle, he will encourage attendees to congratulate the newlyweds. In most cases, the processional is followed in reverse order.
Modern Christian Wedding Ceremony
We feel that the traditional Christian / Catholic processional order doesn’t give the groom enough of the spotlight. After all, it’s his wedding too! So, we love it when we see grooms walking down the aisle in more recent weddings. The ceremony order is very similar to that of the traditional wedding.
A + H Wedding at The Trinity College Chapel
Jewish Wedding Ceremony
R + D Wedding at The Windemere House
The couple comes in for a private signing of their marriage contract, or ‘ketubah,’ before the ceremonial ceremony begins. This can be done at the groom’s reception, the day before the wedding, or even an hour before the ceremony. The ‘bedeken,’ also known as veiling, is the next step, in which the groom goes to veil the bride.
In most Jewish weddings, the bride and her guests sit on the right side, while the groom and his guests sit on the left. The shattering of the plate or glass and the yelling of “mazel tov!” is the most well-known component of a Jewish ritual.
Following that, the bridesmaids and maid of honour enter in pairs. Finally, the bride and her parents make their way down to the chuppah.
Vows Under the Chuppah
A chuppah is a canopy structure used for Jewish wedding ceremonies. Under it, couples recite their vows to each other, symbolising the birth of a new home. Couples can choose to stand alone or with their parents under the structure to complete this section of the ceremony.
The circling ceremony begins once the couple has arrived at the chuppah. The bride does a seven-circle dance around the husband. The circular represents the bride erecting a protective wall around her spouse. A blessing is frequently included, after which the couple will have a glass of wine. To represent equal responsibility in protecting one another, modern Jewish couples prefer to circle each other three times and then one more.
Exchange of Rings
The groom gives the bride a ring, and the ketubah is read at this phase of the ritual. The blessings are usually recited in Hebrew, however modern weddings include English so that non-Hebrew speakers can understand and participate in the ceremony.
The Seven Blessings
After the rings have been exchanged, seven blessings are recited over the couple. They are traditionally recited by the Rabbi, and you might even have family members or honoured visitors recite them instead. Following the blessings, the pair shares another glass of wine.
Breaking of the Glass
The breaking of the glass ceremony occurs when the bride presents her ring to the husband, who will then stomp on a glass with their foot. This is meant to represent the demolition of Jerusalem’s temple. To protect against injuries, the glass is frequently wrapped with a cloth.
The most popular part of the ceremony! Following the breaking of the glass, guests rise to their feet and chant “mazel tov!” (congratulations).
Jewish Wedding Processional Order
The order of events differs slightly if you’re having a Jewish wedding. You will notice that the bride and groom’s sides are flipped.
Hindu Wedding Ceremony
A + N Wedding at Royal Ambassador Banquet
If you’ve ever been to or attended a Hindu wedding, you’ll know that they’re frequently lavish and beautiful affairs, making them one of the more visually stunning ceremonies we enjoy capturing. Hindu weddings are generally elaborate affairs that last several days. While the wedding ceremony is only scheduled for one of the days, the traditional events that surround the wedding take up the rest of the celebration.
Baraat (Arrival of Groom)
The groom’s procession is incomplete without the Baraat. This is where the groom, followed by his friends and family enter on a ceremonial white horse. Live music and dancing are usually present. Instead of a horse, the groom can also make a dramatic arrival with an elephant, chariot, or white car instead.
The bride’s parents and closest friends receive the groom in the milni. A shagun may be bestowed upon the groom (this is known as a token of good luck in the form of clothes or money). The groom is occasionally fed by the bride’s parents as well.
Jai Mala Garland Exchange
The bride and groom exchange garland under a magnificently decorated raised stage known as a mandap. The mandap represents everyone greeting each other into their respective families. As a gesture of giving their daughter away, the bride’s parents will join the couple’s hands and the priest begins the ceremony by saying prayers. The bride and groom’s parents are frequently present with the pair.
A sacred fire (also known as the Agni Poojan) is lighted in the mandap’s middle. The sacred fire is believed to summon the fire deity Agni, who comes to witness the festivities. As an offering, the bride tosses rice into the fire.
In the saptapado, the couple walks seven steps together to represent friendship, which is the foundation of a Hindu marriage. The couple’s clothing may be knotted together while they circle the fire seven times, depending on regional traditions. The pair is officially married once all of the circles have been completed.
Prayers and blessings from their elders are frequently offered at the end of the event. The newlyweds will next be blessed by their parents and pastor.
Catholic Wedding Ceremony
O + W Wedding at Knox College
For us, seeing such a grand ceremony in a church and everyone there to celebrate a new union is truly amazing. For Catholics, the Church believes that marriage is a covenant between the bridal couple and God, and that because God is present in the church, there is no appropriate venue to celebrate this union than in a catholic ceremony. The ceremony is performed in a church and begins with a processional led by the priest, followed by the wedding party’s entrance in a set order. Couples do not compose their own vows to one other.
The priest and ministers will walk to the altar to begin the processional. Once the priest reaches the altar, the wedding party follows. The groom then enters followed the his best man, groomsman, maid of honor and bridesmaids, ring bearer, then finally the bride with her father.
The priest begins by performing ceremonies and offering a prayer. The congregation joins in to sing or recite hymns at this point.
Readings entails chosen visitors reciting prescribed Old and New Testament readings, as well as the psalm that guests repeat. At least one of them will usually bring up the subject of marriage.
The priest reads a text from one of the gospels from each of the four evangelists in this step. A chapter about marriage or love may be read by the priest. Until the gospel is finished, the assembly remains standing.
The priest speaks about the importance or significance of marriage as the guests remain seated. This is also known as a sermon, in which the priest speaks on the wedding couple’s union and its importance.
Rite of Marriage
During the Rite of Marriage, the priest will ask the wedding couple a series of questions, to which they will respond before exchanging Catholic wedding vows. In Catholic ceremonies, changing or personalizing vows is not permitted.
With a prayer, the priest blesses the rings of the couple. The bridal pair then exchanges the rings and recites a verse to conclude the ring ceremony
Liturgy of the Eucharist
The priest begins in prayer over wine and bread, that are thought to turn them into Christ’s flesh and blood. During this most solemn portion of the service, guests will kneel and bow their heads.
The Lord’s Prayer is recited or sung in this portion of the ceremony. It is recommended, but not obligatory, that everyone hold hands while the Prayer is recited
Sign of Peace
The Priest will everyone in the congregation a ‘sign of peace’ and invite all in attendance to exchange it with those around them. A handshake or a greeting of “peace be with you” might be used as a symbol of this.
The Holy Communion is when the wedding pair and those attending receive the Holy Eucharist (bread and wine). Non-Catholics or others who do not desire to partake are welcome to remain seated until the end of the Communion.
Everyone in attendance will get a last blessing from the priest. This is the same prayer that the priest says at the close of every mass.
The wedding couple and their guests exit the church in the reverse order in which they entered. Guests have been known to toss rice at the couple as they walk by as a sign of blessing.
Catholic Processional Order
Traditional Christian Wedding Recessional Order
If you think that the recessional order is the same as the processional order, think again! Of course, after the newlyweds are married, the bride and groom will exit hand in hand. Since the climax with the nuptials have already been reached, things can move a bit more quickly afterwards. So, the rest of the wedding party usually leaves in pairs. In addition, the parents and grandparents stay seated and do not leave with the rest of the wedding party.
Jewish Wedding Recessional Order
And here’s the Jewish wedding recessional order to wrap things up.
As we mentioned, everyone has their own unique preferences, so feel free to make your ceremony order your own. We recommend starting with one of the standard wedding processional or recessional orders, and then customizing it to suit your own tastes and styles.
Here Are Some Suggestions For Customization:
- For shorter ceremonies, have your bridesmaids & groomsmen, maid of honour & best man, and flower girls & ringbearers walk down the aisle in pairs.
- Don’t want to leave your siblings out? Incorporate them into your wedding, even though they’re not part of the official wedding party. For example, have a sibling walk the mother of the bride down instead of an usher.
- Even if you are following a Christian or Catholic ceremony, we think it’s great when both parents walk you down the aisle. So, don’t be afraid to adapt concepts from other cultures if you like them.
Here Are Some Extra Ceremony Order Pointers:
- For traditional processionals at Christian or Catholic weddings, the officiant, groom, and best man usually walk in from the side and not the aisle. Similarly, the Rabbi and Cantor at Jewish weddings are already at the front at the start of the ceremony.
- The order of the groomsmen and bridesmaids during a procession begin with those standing furthest from the bride. Likewise, the groomsmen enter with those standing furthest from the groom.
- The bride’s guests sit on the left and the grooms’s guests sit on the right at Christian or Catholic weddings. It is reversed for Jewish weddings with the groom’s guests on the left and the brides’s guests on the right.
- After the grandparents and parents come in, they are typically seated by ushers in the first row on their respective bride’s or groom’s side.
Download a printable infographic of the wedding processional and recessional order, so that you can easily share it with your wedding helpers!
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