A full religious wedding is not necessarily everyone’s choice – hence the relevance of civil celebrants such as myself! However, if you opt for a church wedding, you should get advice from your officiating priest, but you may still find the following helpful.
The prospect of your big day, especially if it really is to be big, can be pretty unnerving. Fun, exciting and wonderful – but unnerving. There are so many questions to be answered.
Let’s take first things first.
What happens at the Church?
Assuming you have chosen a Church wedding, you will need ushers (who should be the first to arrive, naturally). Traditionally, they should guide the bride’s family and friends to the left side of the altar and the groom’s to the right.
The groom and best man should arrive at least 15 minutes before the ceremony so the photographer can take a few shots before they enter the church (they will occupy the front right-hand pew).
Bridesmaids arrive about 10 minutes before the ceremony. Together with the bride’s mother (normally), they wait at the church door for the bride to arrive. (Another moment for the photographer?)
The bride, along with her father-to-be, will be greeted on arrival by the officiant. The photographer will certainly want to be in attendance here too!
Who goes where?
The bride’s father, family, and any relations and friends will have the officiant ahead of them on their right; obviously, the officiant will be ahead, but to the left, of the best man, groom’s family and selected relations and friends. The bride and groom, chief bridesmaid and bridesmaids will be central, facing the officiant in front of the altar.
The wedding train should process slowly (remarkably difficult to do!) to the altar, and the father hand his daughter to the groom before going to his place.
The bride and groom followed by bridesmaids (and/or pageboys) will lead out at the end of the ceremony. Behind them, on the left, will be the chief bridesmaid, bride’s mother and groom’s mother; on the right, the best man, groom’s father and bride’s father.
The above follows the traditional order and there may be room for a little flexibility.
If, for any reason, you are prevented from marrying in a church, remember that a civil celebrant can create and conduct a religious ceremony for you, which may turn out to be every bit as moving.