If you’ve never attended a wedding before, you might not know how a wedding ceremony is typically structured, which means you don’t have any foundation or source of inspiration for how you want your own ceremony to be set out or where you want your bridesmaids to sit. In this guide we’ll be exploring the normal order of a wedding processional and where the wedding party normally sits so you can decide whether you want to stick with a more traditional approach or be completely unique and creative with your ceremony seating.
What is a wedding processional?
The wedding processional is essentially the start of your entire day. When the guests have sat down, the officiant will take their place at the altar, the groom (typically accompanied by his best man) will enter and the music will start to play to signify the bride’s processional.
In the early days of your wedding planning, you will need to decide who is going to be part of the processional. Ultimately, this depends on who you’ve invited into your wedding party, so it might be one person or twenty people based on your preference. Traditionally this includes the bride and groom’s immediate families, the bridesmaids, maid of honour, best man (if he’s not already at the altar), flower girls, page boys, and the bride and her usher (normally a parent).
Where do the bridesmaids fit in?
There can be some confusion as to where the bridesmaids fit into the ceremony as the procession is slightly different in the UK as it is in the US, despite strong cultural similarities in other ways.
In the UK when it’s the bride’s turn to walk down the aisle, she takes her ushers right arm, holds her bouquet in her left hand and the bridesmaids, flower girls and page boys get into their positions behind the bride in pairs, normally with the youngest behind the bride. Once at the front, the bridesmaids will take their place on the left side of the bride and sit in the first row.
Some couples decide to go down the more American route and have the bridesmaids, flower girls, and page boys to walk down the aisle first, leaving the bride’s entrance last to be the grand finale. As well as the bridesmaids walking down the aisle first, they also stand throughout the ceremony rather than sitting in the front row. The idea behind this is that their role is to support you, so they stand with you during the ceremony itself.
Can I change where the bridesmaids are positioned during the ceremony?
Definitely! If you don’t want to follow UK wedding traditions you certainly don’t have to, especially if you’re having a non-religious wedding ceremony. For example, you could skip the processional completely and have everyone arrive through side entrances or follow the American style mentioned above with the bridesmaids entering first and standing for the duration of the ceremony. It’s your day, there’s no right way of doing your wedding, so don’t be afraid to do something different if you and your fiancée feel it’s right for your ceremony.