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Here Comes the Wedding Party
First comes love, then comes a gaggle of loved ones grinning down the aisle, then comes marriage. To plan a ceremony that runs smoothly, here's a lesson in the traditional wedding march order, plus a few duties of each wedding party member, starting with mom and ending with the bride.
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Mother of the Bride
The mother of the bride's entrance marks the start of the processional, then she takes her seat to the left of the aisle in the first row. Or, as in Jewish ceremonies, she and the bride's father escort their daughter down the aisle together.
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Groomsmen often serve as ushers (as do bridesmaids, in some cases) on the wedding day, and if so, they need to arrive early to roll out the runner, distribute programs, and escort guests to their seats. They can either walk in the procession before the best man, or later arm-in-arm with the bridesmaids.
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The Best Man
The best man is charged with getting the groom to the ceremony on time, marriage certificate in hand, and keeping him calm and relaxed. He stands at the groom's side during the ceremony and signs the marriage certificate. He may also hold the bride's ring (or both rings).
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Traditionally, the groom will walk solo down the aisle during the processisonal, but we've also seen grooms take a more sutble approach by entering the ceremony from the side of the venue to take his place at the altar.
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An integral part of the ceremony, the officiant is also honored with a spot in the procession. And after he pronounces you man and wife? While there is no obligation to invite the officiant to the rehearsal dinner or reception, many couples choose to do so. If the officiant is included, be sure to send a formal invitation and invite his or her spouse as well; traditionally, they are seated in a position of honor at the parents' table at both occasions.
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At the ceremony, bridesmaids precede the maid of honor in the procession. If you choose to pair the ladies with groomsmen for their walk, keep these rules in mind: If there is an odd number of bridesmaids, two women can walk together, or a groomsman can escort one on each arm.
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The Maid or Matron of Honor
On the wedding day, the maid of honor sticks close to the bride, tending to her veil, train, and bustle, then walks in the procession and stands by her at the altar. During the ceremony, the maid of honor holds the bride's bouquet and sometimes the groom's ring; afterward she signs the marriage certificate as a witness.
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The ring bearer and flower girl precede the bride down the aisle. He carries the wedding rings (or decoys, if he's too little to be trusted with the real things), tied to a small pillow. The flower girl may carry a basket of petals, which she scatters as she walks, or a nosegay. After the procession is over and the rings are handed off to the best man, the children's work is done, and they can be seated with their parents.
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The Father of the Bride and the Bride
The father of the bride has one of the most sentimental roles at the ceremony: He makes an entrance with the bride, accompanying her down the aisle at her right side. After he "gives her away," he lifts her veil and kisses her, signifying his blessing, then takes his seat beside the bride's mother.