Wedding Photographer

The Church Procession

Who walks first, comes next and marches last? Who sits where? What are the appropriate orders and procedures along the processional, seating arrangements and recessional during a traditional Philippine church wedding? 

These are just a few important questions a soon-to-bebride and groom should not overlook, but rather, keenly anticipate in preparation for their most memorable event in order to proceed as smoothly andorderly as possible.

These may seemingly be minute details, especially when such planning and decisions are entrusted to a wedding planner. But what if the couple would rather not avail the services of awedding coordinator?

Most often than not, religious and cultural tradition or the couple’s personal preferences dictate the properorder of a church wedding processional, as well as the seating arrangements and recessional procedures. Nevertheless, the church does not recognize what couldbe the most exact and proper way to structure and organize these ceremonial processes. It is only particular and privy with administering the holy sacrament of matrimony per se.

It is always better to draw out avision about how the proceedings would turn out to be, just the way a couple desires for it. A wedding processional rehearsal enables to create a picture of the actual ceremony, and this is where details and other pertinent specifications for the proceedings should be adjusted, arranged and finalized.

Traditional Philippine Church Wedding Entourage Processional Order

 I.     Pre-processional Order

  1. The groom should be the first to arrive in the church venue before his bride. He waits, together with the participating clergy members, at the back of the church until the wedding ceremony starts.
  2. The bride, soon as she arrives, stays inside the bridal car or out of site and waits for a signal when to step out.
  3. As guests arrive, they are ushered to their appointed seats by the groomsmen. The bride’s immediate family members are ushered to be seated first before the groom’s. Ideally, the bride's kin and friends are seated at the church’s left side facing the altar, while the groom's are on the opposite side.
  4. After all the guests have been seated, the groomsmen gather with the bridesmaids and the other members of the wedding entourage at the church’s entrance to prepare themselves for the processional.

II.     Actual Processional Order

The sound of the processional music heralds the beginning ceremonies of the wedding. Thereafter, the wedding celebrant takes his place before the altar, and then waits for the procession to unfold. Traditionally, the wedding entourage’s processional march along the church aisle follows this order:

  1. Best Man
  2. Groom, together with his parents
  3. Principal Sponsors (a gentleman and a lady principal sponsor are partnered to walk down the aisle together)
  4. Secondary Sponsors (coupled bearers of the Candle, Veil, and Cord)
  5. Ring Bearer
  6. Coin Bearer
  7. Bible Bearer
  8. Flower Girls
  9. Bridesmaids and Groomsmen (also partnered, to march together). If ever the wedding entourage has a simulated child version of the bride and groom, they march together next to the last couple of bridesmaid and groomsman. The female entourage members are seated behind the bride or in the left side of the church as the male entourage members stay at the right side.
  10. Maid or Matron of Honor

After each of the marching party reaches the altar, they part and headto their designated seats and places. At this point, the guests formally stand, and then turn facing thechurch’s entrance to welcome the appearance of the bride. As the brideenters the church’s doorway, she is met and greeted by her father. The bridestays at the left side of her father, who thereby, walks her down the aisle forthe sentimental, yet, climactic part of the procession— “giving her away."

Upon the father and bride reach the altar, they are approached by the groom, who then takes the hand of the bride. Facing the altar, the groom remains on the right side of the church, while his bridestays at the left. This particular placement was based from practices of yore,where the groom has the ease and facility to draw his sword from his right sideto keep scorned rivals from stealing his bride. The matrimonial mass ceremonybegins soon as the bride’s father is already seated beside her mother.

However, certain parts of theaforementioned order may have variations. Nowadays, the groom and his parents wouldskip the march and rather wait for the bride at the altar. Also, the bride isgiven her shining moment to walk the aisle alone from the church’s entranceuntil halfway when she is met by her parents to march along together.

III.     Order of the Recessional March:

Once the wedding ceremony has ended,the bride and groom are introduced as one to everyone around. But most of thetime, after the wedding rite has ended or before the recessional proceedingsbegin, photo sessions immediately take place for everybody to pose for posterity with the newlyweds. The recessional marchfollows, which is actually the processional in a somewhat reversed fashion.

  1. Bride and groom, where the bride is at the right side of the groom while walking arm in arm together.
  2. Flower girls, bible bearer, coin bearer, and ring bearer, one at a time.
  3. Maid or Matron of Honor and Best Man, coupled to walk together.
  4. Bridesmaids and groomsmen, who meet up from their seats towards the aisle, then walk arm and arm together, exiting the church.
  5. The family members follow next soon as all the members of the wedding entourage have exited.
  6. The guests are last to leave the church, and everyone else proceeds to the wedding reception venue.

Now, whether or not all the pre-planning and specific details arealready set in place, it must be borne in mind that the actual church wedding procession impacts the biggest impression upon the guests soon as the wedding ceremony begins. Such memorable instance is actually comparable to watching the arrival of celebrities strutting at their best along a red carpet. Thus, a perfect church wedding procession should be planned and organized ahead of time.