Ideas For The Wedding Processional

How will your wedding be remembered? Will guests describe it as elegant and formal? Joyful and fun? Romantic and sweet?

The choices you make for your processional, from how the attendants make their entrances to the choices for instrumentation, will go a long way in answering those questions.

Some religious traditions have standard — even requisite — points for the processional, so it’s a good idea to check with your officiant before taking any other steps. Then borrow from the following ideas to create just the right ambience with the processional for the ceremony to follow.

Musical Selections

Elegant and formal. The instruments chosen have just as much impact as the selected songs. Either an organ or a stringed quartet would provide formal elegance paired with traditional song selections from Bach, Handel, Beethoven and the like.

Joyful and fun. Instead of sticking with classical selections, choose songs from a genre that you love, anything from Broadway to bluegrass. Then either rearrange the songs for traditional wedding instruments or surprise guests with a trumpet, electric guitar or hammered dulcimer in the instrument mix.

Romantic and sweet. Build soft romance with a solo from a harp, a flute or a vocalist accompanied with nothing but an acoustic guitar. With these instruments, the songs could be either classical or contemporary and still create that romantic mood.

Entrance Of Attendants

Elegant and formal. To begin, have the officiant, groom and groomsmen enter through a side door and take their positions up front. The bridesmaids then walk down the aisle either in pairs or one-by-one, followed by the ring bearer and flower girl.

Joyful and fun. The officiant and groom still enter from a front side door and take their positions, but the groomsmen escort the bridesmaids down the aisle and to the bride’s side before taking their positions next to the groom.

Romantic and sweet. Once again, the officiant, groom and groomsmen enter through a front side door and take their positions — but there’s a twist, as each groomsman carries a bouquet. The groomsmen then take turns meeting a bridesmaid midway down the aisle. Each groomsman presents his bridesmaid with a bouquet and then escorts her to her position before returning to his.

Roles For Little Ones

Elegant and formal. Choose little ones who aren’t all that little — that is, children who have at least started kindergarten — to fill the traditional roles of ring bearer and flower girl.

Joyful and fun. Right after the flower girl and before the bride, have a young child walk down the aisle holding a “Here Comes the Bride” sign — a cute surprise to make guests smile and a fun photo op.

Romantic and sweet. After the flower girl, let the music stop, and send a child down the aisle with a bell to ring to capture everyone’s attention for the entrance of the bride.

Entrance Of The Bride

Elegant and formal. After the flower girl finishes her walk, have the officiant ask the guests to rise in honor of the bride. A new song, befitting the selections for the wedding party, begins at a volume a bit louder than the previous songs.

Joyful and fun. After the last little one enters, the aisle doors close. Then when all members of the wedding party, excepting the bride, are in place, a fanfare begins. Usually played on a trumpet, this short rousing piece lasts only about 10 seconds and heralds the climactic moment of the bride’s appearance. As the fanfare begins, the doors open to reveal the bride. The bride’s walk down the aisle does not begin until the fanfare ends and the bridal procession song begins.

Romantic and sweet. Instead of dramatic fanfare, the start of the music for the bride could be signaled with a shift to a slower, gentler feel. Imagine the emotional resonance of a song like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” — no words would be needed.

Thinking through the options for the processional is a good place to start when deciding the overall tone of the ceremony. Discovering which choices best convey the feelings you want stirred will help you communicate your wedding vision to vendors and will allow you to begin focusing on the details.

Last But Not Least …

With the pronouncement of the wedded couple, the atmosphere changes from one of solemn reflection to one of celebration, and the recessional music must follow and help build this triumphant mood. If the ceremony has been ultra-formal, the recessional should follow suit, with majestic music. If the ceremony has been more relaxed, the recessional can take the fun to the next level with a song that leads right into the good times to follow at the reception.