The traditional wedding ceremony actually has several nuances that many people miss. Because most people don't go to weddings all the time, it is common to have some confusion as to what is "proper". If a couple doesn't have a wedding planner or an experienced wedding DJ, they could end up lost when trying to figure out what to do. While the traditional ceremony has a set process to it, a ceremonies today can vary greatly without being improper depending on what the couple is comfortable with. However, there are a few guidelines that will help you and your guests know what’s going on and still have some of the symbolism that is found with the traditional way of doing things.
First of all, the groom's side should be on the right, and the brides side should be on the left. This will help keep your guests from being confused as to which side they should go to when they arrive at the ceremony. While this tradition can be changed, for the sake of your guests it is often best to keep it this way.
The first people to enter the ceremony should be the officiant and the groom, followed by the seating of the grandparents and parents. The couple can choose to have the groomsmen come down the aisle in pairs with the bridesmaids, or if there is an odd number or some other reason to not want to do this, the groomsmen can enter with the groom without breaking any wedding ritual. In the same light, it is ok to have grandparents seated before the start of the ceremony if there are health issues or they are not comfortable with being a part of the ceremony.
With the seating of bride’s mother, you can choose to have the ushers help seat her or have a son escort her if available. The grooms father can come down with the grooms mother, but the bride’s father typically will be coming down with the bride. After the seating of the mothers, the processional will take place, with the best man and maid/matron of honor starting off the line and working down to the end of the bridal party. After the bridal party has made their way down the aisle, the flower girl and ring bearer can make their way down. If the couple was planning on including any wild animals, this would be the best time to have them come down the aisle, unless of course they were wanting to ride them down (do they make tiger saddles?).
The bridal march is usually after the ring bearer and flower girl, and usually includes the bride and her father. If the father is not available or the bride would rather walk alone it is fine in today’s culture. The efficient should know to instruct everyone to stand as the bride enters, and instruct them to be seated after a few brief words.
Of course, a ceremony can very greatly depending on religious observances, so if you are of Catholic, Jewish, or other faith you may want to consult your minister as to the traditional ceremony practices of your faith. Finally, the seating of the mothers, processional, bridal march, sand ceremony or unity candle (discussed in a later blog), and recessional can all have a different song played by a soloist or wedding DJ. It is often easiest to transition if there are different songs you can use as cues as to when the next group should go. The person in charge of the music should know when to change songs to keep everything flowing properly. While sometimes mistakes can happen (like an unruly ring bearer or tripping bridesmaid), its best to just laugh about it or ignore it, and continue on as if nothing ever happened.
DJ Matt "The Wedding Specialist"
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