The Processional Order Decoded

Learn who walks when—and in what order—for your trip down the aisle.

It's the entrance you've been dreaming of for a lifetime—you walking down the aisle in that big white wedding dress, in front of all your friends and family, about to marry the love of your life. But before your big moment arrives, you need to make sure that your wedding party makes its own grand entrance, too. Here, we rounded up the traditional processional walks, but remember, you can mix it up for your own big day. It's absolutely OK to create your own wedding traditions.

Photography by: James Moes

If you're having a Christian ceremony …

Traditionally, ushers seat the bride's side to the left of the aisle, and the groom's to the right. And while the groom and his best man can certainly be a part of the processional down the aisle, these days, most opt to enter from the side before the ceremony starts and watch from the altar, along with the officiant, as the party progresses. If yours is a Catholic ceremony, follow the below order, but have the groomsmen and bridesmaids walk down in pairs after the mother of the bride.


Mother of the bride


Best man, if not already at altar

Groom, if not already at altar


Maid/matron of honor

Ring bearer

Flower girl

Bride (left), escorted by her father (right)

Photography by: Delbarr Moradi

If you're having a Jewish ceremony …

For this religious service, the bride's relatives and friends are seated to the right of the aisle, with the groom's on the left. The rabbi can either walk down the aisle with the party, or enter from the side and wait for the others under the chuppah.


Rabbi and/or cantor, if not already at chuppah

Bride's grandparents

Groom's grandparents


Best man

Groom, escorted by his mother (right) and father (left)


Maid/matron of honor

Ring bearer

Flower girl

Bride, escorted by her mother (right) and father (left)

Photography by: Jenelle Kappe

If you're having a secular and/or same-sex ceremony …

Adapt the order from one of the above religious processionals, or make one up all your own. If your venue or chapel has two aisles, for instance, you could choose to enter down one, then recess up the other; or, the left aisle can be used by the bride's attendants, while the groomsmen simultaneously walk down the aisle on the right. 


Marrying your same-sex partner? You might ask a person of mutual importance to escort the two of you on each arm. Or walk one behind the other with your respective parents, though you'll still have to figure out who goes first (rock-paper-scissors?). If neither one of you is being "given away," proceed hand-in-hand. The point is, couples of every orientation are bending the rules to customize their ceremonies in unique and meaningful ways. So feel free to take a direct path to the altar or a route less traveled. 

Get Same-Sex Wedding Q&As
About the Author

Jaime Buerger

A senior editor at MSW, Jaime edits the planning section of the magazine and writes stories on flowers, home décor, stationery, and more. Since she started, she's learned the difference between buttercream and fondant, what the 4Cs of diamonds really measure, and how to properly address both the outer and inner envelopes of an invitation. She also eats more than her fair share of...


Be the first to comment!


Don't Miss…