This month we look at the wedding processional order for the traditional and the modern bride.

The bride’s arrival is always one of the highlights of a wedding ceremony, and there are a few ways that you can approach the wedding processional order depending on whether you want a traditional bridal march or not. 

The ushers should be the first to arrive at the church, about 45 minutes before the ceremony, and they should be informed in advance of how to seat the guests as they arrive. The front right-hand pew is reserved for the groom and the best man. The groom’s close family sit behind in the second pew. The front left-hand pew is reserved for the bride’s parents and her attendants.

The groom and best man should then arrive at least 30 minutes before the ceremony. Guests usually arrive 15 to 20 minutes before the ceremony begins. The next to arrive at the church are the bridesmaids and the mother of the bride, who wait until the arrival of the bride. 

The bride’s mother is the last to be shown to her seat by the ushers, before the ceremony begins, and her entrance lets the groom know that the bride has arrived, at which point the processional music begins and the congregation stands.

Again, tradition dictates that the bride, who stands to the right of her father, leads the procession of bridesmaids (usually with the youngest directly behind), followed by the maid or matron of honour, flower girl(s) and ring bearer(s). However, there’s now a new trend to send the entourage in first. This helps to further heighten guests’ expectations before the bride makes her grand entrance – and also to give her a few more precious moments with dad.

Brides are also now ditching the once favourable wedding march, often called ‘Here Comes the Bride’, for more modern songs such as ‘At Last’ by Eta James, ‘Songbird’ by Eva Cassidy and ‘Marry You’ by Bruno Mars. Alternatively, if you want something that’s really original and personal, why not ask a family member or close friend to perform your entrance music on a piano, guitar or harp.

The bride, and more commonly the groom now, together with members of the wedding party will generally arrive in elegant cars or even horse-drawn carriages. You could also choose to travel in a more extravagant way, of course. If you wish to get married at one of our country house hotels, we may be able to arrange for you to arrive by helicopter. 

There are many other ways that you can be creative and unique with your wedding procession, without such extravagance of course, such as giving your little flower girls or page boys handmade signs to announce your arrival and then on the way back down the aisle, they could carry a ‘Just Married’ banner.

Likewise, given you won't be able to greet all your guests upon their arrival, get the ushers to hand out a wedding welcome bag of goodies (such as locally sourced sweet and savoury snacks to tide them over before dinner or seasonal essentials like sunscreen, ponchos or hand-warmers) together with the flowers and order of service. This is a really nice gesture if you are having a destination wedding or hosting lots of guests that have travelled from afar. 

It’s good etiquette to include the dress code on your invitation and what shoes to wear if for instance there are rocky paths to traverse, soft grass or sand, together with an arrival time and instructions after the ceremony, whether that is simply directions to the venue and parking information or specifics about shuttles you are providing. This will all help to ensure a smooth and stress-free start to you wedding. 

Of course, with a Hand Picked Hotel civil ceremony or partnership, you and your soon-to-be husband, wife or partner can make it as personal as you want it to be, and if you prefer our wedding coordinators can help take care of the arrangements and make the whole process completely seamless.