The order to walk down the aisle in and how to choose your processional music

We answer the age old question "who walks down the aisle first?"

It’s a question we hear from brides-to-be time and time again, “what order should I walk down the aisle in?” - some brides walk down first with their bridesmaids following behind them, while others have their bridesmaids lead the way.

Traditionally, the mother-of-the-bride goes first, signalling that the procession is about to begin.

The bridesmaids tend to walk down next, either one at a time, or side by side sometimes.

The maid-of-honour follows, proceeded by the flower girls and page boys, and lastly the bride walks down the aisle, traditionally accompanied by the father-of-the-bride, but this of course isn’t a necessity.

Despite this “standard” processional order, the fact is, it’s really up to you to decide the order you want to walk down the aisle in.

It’s your day, your way and there’s no rule that dictates the order you choose.

We make the case for walking before and after your bridesmaids, and you can make up your own mind about your processional order.

Kate Middleton walked ahead of her bridal party
Kate Middleton walked ahead of her bridal party

Bride First

If you decide to go first, ahead of your bridesmaids, you’ll be making a truly grand entrance, with all eyes on you - this is the most dramatic of entrances.

If you’ve chosen a special processional song, you can choose your perfect moment in the song to set off on the biggest walk of your life, rather than waiting for your bridal party to finish.

It benefits the groom if you go first too; he’ll get a clear view of you down the aisle, not have to peer through the beautiful bridesmaids to catch a glimpse of his bride.

He’ll be able to see your face the whole time, and this is often one of the most emotional moments of the day.

With your bridesmaids behind you, they’ll be able to keep an eye on your veil and the train of your dress to ensure they’re perfectly in place.

Sending the bridesmaids down first heralds your arrival
Sending the bridesmaids down first heralds your arrival

Bridesmaids first

If the bridesmaids walk ahead of you, they’re announcing your imminent entrance - a truly special fanfare for your arrival!

Walking down after your bridesmaids is ideal for brides who don’t love being the centre of attention - you’re all in it together.

Allowing your bridesmaids to go first also gives your guests the chance to admire how gorgeous your girls look, and gives them their moment in the spotlight - we know it’s your day, but if they go after you, people won’t notice all the hard work you all put into choosing their hairstyles, bridesmaid dresses and make-up.

If your bridesmaids go ahead and wait at the alter as you walk down, they’ll be able to watch your face as you and your partner lock eyes for the first time, and this will surely mean a lot to them.

If you’ve chosen a song with a long build up for your processional song, sending your bridesmaids ahead of you means you can time your entrance to the crescendo of the song

Image: Shan Fisher
Image: Shan Fisher

The processional music

When choosing your processional music (the song you walk down the aisle to), think carefully about the speed and length of the song.

If you choose something too upbeat, you and your bridesmaids might instinctively walk quickly down the aisle; this is a moment to savour, so take it slow and steady and take it all in.

Consider the length of the song too; Canon in D is a perennially popular processional song (and a truly beautiful piece of music), but do remember it’s over four minutes long, so would either be cut off short after your walk down the aisle is complete, or be playing long after you’ve taken your place at the head of the aisle.

If you’re getting married in a religious setting, check with your venue about rules and regulations - some churches don’t allow songs with God mentioned to be played (say goodbye to God Only Knows by the Beach Boys!)

Consider lyrics; some songs seem romantic and sweet but are actually not really appropriate for weddings - Every Breath You Take by The Police, we’re looking at you. Check out our list of the most inappropriate aisle songs for a guide on what not to play.

For an extra romantic touch, choose your processional song in private so it’s a real surprise for your groom as you walk down. You’ll most likely dance to “your song” for your first dance, so your processional song requires a little bit of extra thought.

If you’re walking down the aisle with your dad, you could choose a song that means a lot to him; it’s the biggest day of your life, but it’s also a momentous occasion for him so a heartfelt choice would definitely make for an emotional moment.

Check out the ceremony music playlists we compiled to accompany every moment of your wedding ceremony for song inspiration.

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