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Wedding Procession & Recession

Not sure how to make your entrance for the ceremony? There is a particular order that should be followed. Your wedding officiant should assist you with these details. However, if you are being married by a friend/relative ('officiant for the day'), you may need to do your homework!

The Procession

The couple will each make their way to the altar separately. This symbolizes the fact that you are coming from different families and different backgrounds. Holding hands, exchanging wedding rings and kissing represent the merging of both your lives into one.

In a traditional Christian procession, the father escorts the bride as she makes her way down the aisle to her future husband. In the traditional Jewish procession both parents escort the bride and groom.

Today the bride may choose a person that she is closest to. For instance, she may choose her stepfather if she feels closer to him than her biological father. She may choose both her mother and father or even a favorite uncle. Or perhaps she may walk down the aisle by herself. The choice is totally up to the bride. The procession goes as follows:

 

The Christian procession

  • The officiant, groom and best man will wait at the altar.
  • The groomsmen will either walk in from the side or will walk down the aisle accompanied by a bridesmaid.
  • The bridesmaid who will stand farthest from the bride at the altar will walk down the aisle first. The other bridesmaids follow her.
  • The ring bearer and flower girl will walk down the aisle next (usually they are seated with their parents after they reach the altar).
  • The maid of honor will then walk down the aisle.
  • Finally, the bride will make her grand entrance and walk to the left of her escort as she makes her way down the aisle.

 

The Jewish procession

  • Cantor or Rabbi will walk down the aisle and wait at the alter.
  • The groom's grandparents.
  • The bride's grandparents.
  • Groomsmen will walk down in pairs.
  • The Best Man will follow.
  • The groom will walk down the aisle with his parents. His father will be on his left and his mother on his right.
  • The bridesmaids will follow. Starting with the bridesmaid that will stand farthest from the bride.
  • The maid of honor will follow.
  • Next will be the ring bearer and flower girl
  • Finally, the bride and her parents will proceed down the aisle. Her father will be on her left and her mother on her right.

Altar Arrangements

During the wedding rehearsal, your officiant will help you organize the altar arrangement. Traditionally, during a Christian ceremony the bride will stand on the left with her back to the congregation. The groom will stand to her right. During a Jewish ceremony the bride is on the right and the groom is on the left.

Traditionally, the attendants will divide by the sexes. The bridesmaids will be on the bride's side and the groomsmen will be on the groom's side. However, you can have the attendants walk down the aisle in pairs and have one couple pair to the right behind the groom and another couple pair to the left behind the bride. Alternating until all attendants are either behind the bride or groom. They will either line up diagonally behind the bride and groom or create a semi-circle around the bride and groom. During a Jewish ceremony, the attendants will stand under the huppah with the bride and groom. The honor attendants stand one diagonal step behind the bride and groom followed by the other attendants behind them.

During a traditional Christian ceremony, the bride's father will escort her down the aisle and will either leave her at the altar with the groom or will stand between the couple until the officiant asks: "Who supports this woman in marriage?" . Then he will give his blessing and take a seat next to the bride's mother in the front pew. The groom's parents will also sit in the front pew (usually on the groom's side). However, you can choose to have the parents stand with you at the altar. During a Jewish ceremony, the parents stand under the huppah on either side of the rabbi.

If you have children in your wedding, they can be seated with their parents after reaching the altar. However, if you feel that they are old enough to stand still, then by all means, have them stand in the altar line-up.

If you have a relative or friend who will participate by doing a reading, seat them close enough to the front. They will get up to do the reading and then will sit back down in their seat. So be sure that they have easy access to the front so they won't have to step on any toes as they proceed to the altar.

The Recession

After the ceremony is over and you've kissed and been announced husband and wife, it's time to go celebrate. The recession goes as follows:

 

The Christian recession:

  • The bride and groom will walk down the aisle first.
  • Followed by the flower girl and ring bearer (this is optional).
  • Maid of honor and best man will follow next.
  • Followed by the bridesmaids and the groomsmen walking down in pairs.
  • The parents will then follow the wedding party.

 

The Jewish recession:

  • The bride and groom will walk down the aisle first.
  • Followed by the bride's parents
  • The groom's parents will follow next.
  • Followed by the flower girl and ring bearer (this is optional)
  • Maid of honor and best man will follow next.
  • Followed by the bridesmaids and groomsmen.
  • Finally, the rabbi or cantor.