How to organize your processional and recessional for a smooth ceremony

Here comes the wedding party
May 18, 2011 | By:

As with almost anything in a modern wedding, organizing your processional and recessional can go one of two ways: traditional or unique.

When it comes to organizing your processional and recessional, it really comes down to suiting your needs. Many times, this comes from involving extended or blended families. Other times it comes from a desire to be different and breaking from tradition just for the sake of doing it.

In the final analysis, the processional and recessional mark the official start and end to your wedding ceremony. The following is an explanation of the traditional route with a few suggestions of how to mix it up a bit.


By this time, the officiate, the groom, and the best man will have entered, and the families will have been seated by the ushers, with the mother of the bride seated last, marking the start of the ceremony.

The traditional processional is:

  • Bridesmaids, escorted by groomsmen (in pairs)
  • Maid of honour
  • Ring bearer (or page)
  • Flower girl
  • Bride, escorted by her father

For the sake of a logical procession, don’t stray too far from the traditional order. However, the players may be rearranged, substituted, or even dropped to suit the taste or need of the bride and groom. Some examples include:

Junior attendants/groomsmen – For pre-teens who aren’t old enough to participate as a full-time bridesmaid or groomsman, but too old to be the flower girl or ring bearer, they may be selected as a junior attendant or groomsman. (A rule of thumb: If they’re too young to attend a bachelor(ette) party, they’re too young to be a part of the official bridal party.) They should precede the bridesmaids.

Multiple youngsters – If there’s more than one child who you want to be a part of the processional, it’s not out of the question to have more than one flower girl or ring bearer. This works well if there are young siblings who can either work in tandem or an older one who can help guide a younger one.

Ring bearer and flower girl together – It’s also a good idea to have your ring bearer and flower girl walk together, especially, again, if one is a toddler and may need assistance with direction.

Bridal escort – Traditionally, the bride is escorted down the aisle by her biological father, but if that’s not possible or desired for whatever reason, she should be escorted by whichever person in her life fills the same role.


The recessional basically goes in reverse order except for one major difference: The bride and groom lead the way together. Afterward should follow:

  • Flower girl and ring bearer (if allowed to remain with the bridal party throughout the ceremony)
  • Maid of honour and best man
  • Bridesmaids and groomsmen (in pairs)
  • Bride’s parents
  • Groom’s parents
  • Remaining family

As with anything involved in a wedding, let the feel of your processional and recessional be based on your theme, whether traditional or off-the wall. However, even if you want to include the family dog, remember to always respect your surroundings.

Looking for the perfect ceremony location? Find ceremony locations on, Canada’s Local Marriage Services Directory.