This schedule of the form and timing of your ceremony is merely an example, since your spiritual background and cultural heritage should play the major role. Use this guideline as a starting point to design the ceremony you desire. Practice the ceremony at your rehearsal, usually the day before your wedding.

CHRISTIAN PROCESSION

The site for your ceremony will probably have one center aisle. Use this aisle for both the procession and the recession. Some sites have two center aisles. If this is the case, you may choose whether to close off one and use the other, or use the left for the procession and the right for the recession.

SEATING-

A traditional Christian ceremony seats the bride’s family on the left side

of the single aisle (as you face the altar), or on both sides of the left aisle of a two aisle site. The groom’s family is seated on the right side. Parents of the bride and groom sit in the first two seats of the front row, on their respective sides. Grandparents traditionally sit in the second row next to siblings of the bride and groom. You may reserve additional rows of seats on each side for other honored guests. “Within the ribbons” cards may be sent to those you wish to sit in the reserved area. If your parents are divorced or separated, your personal desires in seating may be followed. Usually the custodial parent occupies the front aisle seat.

Today guests are most often seated without regard for whether they are friends of one family or the other.

All guests should be seated by the ushers until the bride’s mother takes her seat. Afterward, late arrivals should seat themselves without usher assistance.

TIMING-

Timing your ceremony is important. Leave enough time for everyone involved to be relaxed and prepared.

One And A Half — Two Hours Before

One and a half to two hours before your ceremony you should arrive at the site and begin dressing. Both you and your attendants should then be able to enjoy your preparations. If pre-ceremony photographs are desired, they can be shot about an hour before the ceremony begins.

One Hour Before

Your ushers should arrive at the site at least one hour before the ceremony. Their

boutonnieres should be pinned on, and any wedding programs given to them to distribute. They should then gather at the entrance to escort guests to their seats as practiced at your rehearsal.

Fifteen To Thirty Minutes Before

Fifteen to thirty minutes before the ceremony your selected musician(s) should begin playing, while the ushers seat your guests.

CHRISTIAN PROCESSIONAL ORDER

The wedding party and parents should wait in the hallway while other relatives are seated. The last people to be seated are the parents. The groom’s grandparents are escorted, then the bride’s grandparents, then the groom’s parents, and finally the bride’s mother. As the bride’s mother (the last person to be seated by an usher) starts down the aisle, the bride and her father join the wedding party in the hallway.

If you choose to use an aisle runner, two of your ushers will now walk to the front of the aisle and unroll it smoothing the material as they go.

The officiant (i.e. minister, priest) takes his (her) place, followed by the groom, the best man, and the groomsmen.

The groom, best man, and groomsmen enter from the side of the ceremony site and stand facing the guests at an angle. You may prefer to include the groomsmen in the procession, either as escorts for the bridesmaids or to enter separately before the bridesmaids. Your personal preference should be followed. The groom stands next to the officiant with the best man one step behind the groom.

The bridesmaids walk down the aisle. If there are fewer than four each walks alone, otherwise they may be paired according to height. If there is not an even number, the shortest bridesmaid leads, walking alone. The junior bridesmaid precedes the honor attendant. If there are child attendants, they follow the maid of honor (or matron of honor) and precede the bride.

The ring bearer walks alone, or may be paired with the flower girl. Never put real rings on the ring bearer pillow. They might fall off and get lost. Sew faux ones onto the pillow and have the best man carry the real ones in his pocket.

The flower girl precedes the bride. She carries a basket of flowers. She may drop flower petals if the ceremony site allows it.

The bride and her father enter. The bride is on her father’s left arm. The pages (if you use them) end the procession, carrying the bride’s train.

CHRISTIAN RECESSION

The recession is usually done in the reverse order of the procession.

The bride turns and takes her groom’s right arm. The bridal couple then walks back up the aisle together, leading the recession of the wedding party.

The flower girl, walking on the ring bearer’s right, follows the bridal couple out. Then each bridesmaid takes the right arm of a groomsman , beginning with the honor attendant on the right arm of the best man. One groomsman may escort two bridesmaids if there is not an even number. One extra groomsman walks alone, two walk side by side.

When the last of the wedding party reaches the hallway, ushers you have designated in advance return to escort out the mothers of the bridal couple and other honored guests.

The bridal couple, at this time, will meet with the officiant to sign the marriage license. The witnesses will sign as well.

The best man will also hand the officiant the fee for services, enclosed in a sealed envelope.

If you choose to have a receiving line, it is formed at this time.

Then the bridal couple and wedding party may have more photographs shot.

The usher directs guests to the reception site.

Most ceremony sites will not allow birdseed or rice to be showered on the bride and groom. Some sites will allow bubbles or flowers petals (avoid dark color flowers because they will stain clothing and carpets). Check with you ceremony site regarding their particular rules.

JEWISH PROCESSION

The site for your ceremony will probably have one center aisle. Use this aisle for both the procession and the recession. Some sites have two center aisles. If this is the case, you may choose whether to close off one and use the other, or use the left for the procession and the right for the recession.

SEATING-

A Jewish ceremony seats the bride’s family on the right side

(as you face the altar). The groom’s family are seated on the side opposite that of the bride. Jewish wedding tradition calls for the parents to remain standing under the huppah throughout the ceremony. However, if you decide to have your parents sit, they would sit in the first two seats of the front row, on their respective sides. If your parents are divorced or separated, your personal desires in seating may be followed. Usually the custodial parent occupies the front aisle seat. Grandparents traditionally sit in the second row next to siblings of the bride and groom. You may reserve additional rows of seats on each side for other honored guests. “Within the ribbons” cards may be sent to those you wish to sit in the reserved area.

TIMING-

Timing your ceremony is important. Leave enough time for everyone involved to be relaxed and prepared.

One And A Half — Two Hours Before

One and a half to two hours before your ceremony you should arrive at the site and begin dressing. Both you and your attendants should then be able to enjoy your preparations. If pre-ceremony photographs are desired, they can be shot about an hour before the ceremony begins.

One Hour Before

Your ushers should arrive at the site at least one hour before the ceremony. Their boutonnieres should be pinned on, and any wedding programs given to them to distribute. They should then gather at the entrance to escort guests to their seats as practiced at your rehearsal.

Fifteen To Thirty Minutes Before

Fifteen to thirty minutes before the ceremony your selected musician(s) should begin playing, while the ushers seat your guests.

JEWISH PROCESSIONAL ORDER

In the Jewish ceremony, the rabbi and the cantor (on the rabbi’s right) begin the procession.

The wedding party and parents should wait in the hallway while other relatives are seated.

The bride’s grandparents and the groom’s grandparents are next to enter.

The groomsmen then enter in pairs. The shortest enters first, the tallest last.

The best man precedes the groom.

The groom is escorted by both his parents. He’s on his father’s right and his mother’s left.

The bridesmaids walk in, individually by height (shortest first). As in the Christian ceremony, if there are four or more, they may walk in pairs. If there is an uneven number, the shortest walks alone, first.

If there are child attendants, they follow the honor attendant. The ring bearer enters first, followed by the flower girl.

The bride then enters on her father’s right arm and her mother’s left.

JEWISH RECESSION

The recession is usually done in the reverse order of the procession.

The bride accepts her groom’s left arm. The bridal couple then walks back up the aisle together.

After the bride and groom make their exit, the parents of the couple walk back up the aisle, followed by the rabbi, grandparents, and attendants.

YICHUD-

The yichud traditionally follows the Jewish recession. The bridal couple spends about fifteen to twenty minutes together in privacy. Today the yichud is a time to contemplate the meaning of the union of marriage. Two specifically designated witnesses may stand guard outside the private room

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