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Commonly Asked: Wedding Processional Order

Wedding ceremony at Thornewood Castle. Garden wedding photo showing bridal party on stairs.

Preparing to say those magical words, 'I do,' commences with a unique moment—the wedding processional. Finding its footing in religious ceremonies, this treasured tradition sets the mood for the ceremony and tone of the day as a whole. Whether you opt for the classic wedding procession order or infuse it with non-traditional elements, each step down the aisle is a chance to weave your story into the ceremony.

Traditional Wedding Processional:

The wedding processional is when the wedding party walks down the aisle, marking the beginning of the wedding ceremony. It typically includes the officiant, the wedding party, flower girls, ring bearers, and the bride and groom, along with their parents. How this proceeds is a personal preference, but we typically see the following order:

Garden wedding at Thornewood Castle in Lakewood, WA. Wedding Processional photo of bride walking down aisle with her father.

1. Officiant

2. Groom

(with or without parents)

3. Parents of the Groom/Bride

(If the bride's father is escorting her, another male family member will walk with the Bride's mother).

4. Wedding Party

(Bridesmaids and Groomsmen)

5. Maid of Honor with Best Man

6. Ring Bearer

7. Flower Girl/ Junior Bridesmaid

8. Bride and escort

Common Personalization:

Of course, even this 'traditional' version has changed significantly from that of history. Choosing non-traditional elements for your wedding processional can be a wonderful way to reflect your unique relationship and background. Let's break down the areas that are most often changed when personalizing a processional.


Including your grandparents in the processional is a sweet and meaningful way to honor their importance. Whether they walk down the aisle independently, with assistance due to mobility issues, or have a unique role like lighting a memorial candle, involving them can bring a lot of warmth to the ceremony. Usually, the couple's grandparents are the next to walk down the aisle after the Groom and take their seats in the front row.

Wedding Party

When it's time for the wedding party, a few areas can be personalized. The classic order has the bridesmaids and groomsmen coming down the aisle in pairs (usually arm and arm). However, we have seen the groomsmen walk down the aisle individually after the groom. Similarly, the bridesmaids can walk one right after the other on their own after the groomsmen have walked.

Garden wedding at Thornewood Castle in Lakewood, WA. Wedding Processional photo of the bridesmaids and groomsmen on stairs. Bridesmaids in gold dresses.

The first groomsman or bridesmaid to walk down the aisle will stand farthest away from the couple, so the best man and maid of honor will stand directly next to the couple. The best way to describe this is to imagine a 'V' where the people walking out slowly lead into the tip of the 'V,' YOU.

Some religious ceremonies have the priest, groom, and best man (in that order) walk to the altar from a side door or entry point and take their places before the rest of the VIPs walk down the aisle. In some cases, the groomsmen will also enter from the side, and only the Bridesmaids will walk down.

Ring bearer

If children participate in the ceremony, they get to walk down the aisle just before the bride. Depending on their ages, they can stand with the rest of the wedding party or sit with their family members. Speaking of age, we have had MANY weddings with friends or grandparents acting as the flower girl and ring bearer. It always produces laughs and can make the tone more humorous and light.

Bride entrance

Garden wedding at Thornewood Castle in Lakewood, WA. Wedding Processional photo of bride and her dad having their father daughter dance.

The bride and her escort (traditionally her father or father-like figure) are the last to enter the ceremony space. We have also seen the bride walk down the aisle with both parents, just her mom or another loved one, like a brother, grandparent, son, or daughter, or by herself. Ultimately, Whatever the choice, this is the big moment!

Though not nearly as common as walking separately, some couples walk down the aisle together. Whether this choice may stem from the couple's longstanding relationship, comfortability, or a desire to emphasize their journey as equals, walking in together is a beautiful sentiment.

No wedding party

When a wedding processional doesn't include a wedding party, all the attention is on the couple getting married and less on the traditional ceremony. Some couples like to keep things simple and focus on their commitment to each other, creating a tone of intimacy for the remainder of the ceremony and reception.

When we have a wedding with no wedding party, we typically see the officiant pre-placed at the altar, followed by the Groom and then the bride (or even together). In the end, deciding whether to have a wedding party is personal, and couples should choose the option that best fits their vision for their special day.


After the exchange of vows and rings, the recessional takes place. During rehearsal, we also practice the recessional aspect. This tends to work backward, meaning the couple exits first, followed by the wedding party, flower/ring bearer person, family, and then the officiant. Sometimes, the officiant will exit before the family if they do not need to make any following announcements.

Garden wedding at Thornewood Castle in Lakewood, WA. Wedding Recessional photo of bride and groom walking through a tunnel made by bridal party.

As with all aspects of the wedding ceremony, this can be changed to fit your vision. We have coordinated weddings where the party stays put, and only the couple exits, leading for ease into photos following guests' departure to cocktail hour.

The recessional is often full of clapping and excitement as onlookers celebrate the change from "We will" to "We do." Beyond its ceremonial role, the recessional is a touching reminder of all the love and support surrounding the beginning of your journey together.


The wedding processional is a beautiful tradition that can be personalized to reflect your unique story. Whether sticking to the classic order or adding personal touches, every step down the aisle is a chance to showcase your love and individuality. The opportunities to make your wedding ceremony memorable and unique are endless!

We understand how important your big day is, and we're here to offer expert advice and coordination. If you'd like a consultation for wedding coordination with a rehearsal, or if you're interested in booking a virtual coordinator for extra assistance, we'd love to hear from you by clicking on Contact.

Garden wedding at Thornewood Castle in Lakewood, WA. Wedding Processional photo of bride and groom kissing on stairs
Photos: Bethany Kidd Photography Venue: Thornwood Castle in Lakewood, WA.


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