- Jan Shillito /
- Celebration Ceremonies, Ceremony traditions, Renewal of Vows, Wedding Plannning /
- 15 April, 2013 /
- No comments
Over the next few weeks we’ll be blogging about different Ceremony traditions that you might want to embrace, break or give a fresh take. We’re onto our second tradition but if you’re a trend-setting bride you might want to catch up with our first one the white wedding dress – you may find that you have more in common with Queen Victoria than you ever thought! Anyway, here we go, tradition number 2:
Walking down the aisle- the procession
We have been unusually fortunate to have experienced three very different ceremonies all in one year; The Olympics opening ceremony, conceived and created by the amazingly creative Danny Boyle and led by the Greeks; the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee ceremonial procession; the Royal marriage of the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge; all steeped in tradition, etiquette and british heritage.
Soon it will be your turn!
But what traditional elements of the procession will you embrace, break or give a new take on?
Marriage in the legal or religious sense was not initially designed to be an expression of love as it is today, it was about the exchange of property from one man to another. A bride’s head of the family ‘gave’ their daughter away to another man and his family in exchange for a dowry ‘ a brides ‘bottom drawer’. Whilst it still exists in some cultures today generally the tradition is more about the sentiment, marrying for love’s sake rather than passing on ‘ownership’ or social politics.
Some brides find satisfaction and take comfort in following traditions and etiquette viewing the walking down the aisle to be ‘a rites of passage’. Others are not so comfortable incorporating a symbol of a patriarchal system.
Whatever your views, the procession indicates the start of the ceremony. Time stops for a moment as the audience awaits your entrance.
Your big day is here after so much planning and preparation, so take moment to imagine this moment.
You arrive at your venue a small private affair at your family home, a breathtaking private country estate, a spring flower garden or woodland, or a hidden gem of a venue; it’s the special place you have chosen to say your wedding vows to each other. This is the point where two individuals and two separate lives become one.
All your family, friends and guests await your entrance with baited breath. It’s one of the top moments in your life that you will look back on and remember for the rest of your life.
This is big! (deep breath!)
But how will YOU choose do it?
Will you walk down the aisle?
Who will walk you down the aisle?
What will the aisle look like?
How do you want this moment to feel?
Just imagine yourself stood there about to enter, will you embrace tradition, break tradition or give a new take on it?
The procession varies by religion and culture but generally speaking it follows a similar format:
The procession traditionally starts from the the brides home- but as this could be quite a walk, it has been shortened somewhat to an aisle walk.
Families and guests of the bride or groom are usually seated on the respective sides of the bride and groom at either side of the aisle.
The groom stands to the right of the alter so that he can ‘protect’ his betrothed bride from harm with his sword. He is ‘supported’ by his ‘best’ man for the job of making sure her family doesn’t try and take her back! They and the rest of the groomsmen all enter from the side or they can escort the bridesmaids down the aisle.
Bridesmaids enter alone or are escorted by the groomsmen- bridesmaids on the left.
Then we see the entrance of the maid of honour alone or she can be escorted by the best man.
Next comes the ring bearer followed by the flower girl(s) just before the bride.
Then it’s what everyone has been waiting for, the bride, who traditionally walks on her father’s left arm. Some however, prefer to walk on the right so that when she reaches the alter there is nothing between her and the groom.
Sound like your cup of tea? Or perhaps you want a more modern wedding ceremony entrance…..
If the idea of being handed from one man to another doesn’t sit too comfortably with you you might like to follow in the footsteps of Swedish or Romanian couples and walk down the aisle together as a more equal partnership.Your mother and father could announce the bride & groom’s arrival? Or make it more of a family affair where both sets of parents enter down aisle first and greet guests.
Or you could both walk down the aisle individually, the groom and then the bride?
The bond between mother and child is one of the strongest of relationships and one of the biggest influences in a daughter and son’s life. Mother’s traditionally were the ‘wedding planners and co-ordinators’ but as brides have become more independent they have taken on this role themselves or want more ‘objective‘ hired help. Consequently mothers seem to have been given a more ‘silent role’. So why not give them a more active and public role have you mother or both your parents walk you down the aisle?
Perhaps you would rather do it alone and not be ‘given away’ by anyone- this would have great impact?
What if you didn’t want an aisle, perhaps you don’t like the attention or want to do something more creative? You could both walk in from the side, or around the outside of where your guests are seated , arrange your seating differently or choreograph your entrance?
You may want to go the whole hog and have a walking wedding procession at your favourite beauty spot, special place or outdoor wedding location. You both lead your guests to where your ceremony will take place.
If you’re looking to break the tradition of a formal aisle and want some alternative inspiration check our page on pinterest
Sound more like you? Or maybe you’d rather find a happy medium and …..
Give a fresh take?
Like most things in marriage it’s about give and take and compromise, so If you want have a more contemporary twist on tradition you could always meet half way?
Perhaps there isn’t a defined aisle if you are having an outdoor ceremony in a country estate but if there are two tiers of steps that meet in the middle, you could walk down from different sides then meet on the level and walk together the last steps holding hands?
We all know times have changed and relationships and families have changed; children don’t always come second, in fact cohabiting couples now amount to 5.9 million – increasing two-fold between 1996 and 2012. They are the fastest growing family type in the UK, with 39% of those cohabiting couples having children. http://bit.ly/ZRpYnK
So if you’ve already got children, are getting married second time around or having a renewal of vows ceremony you may want to give a different twist where your boy(s) could walk down the aisle with their dad and the girl(s) could walk with their mum? Or your son could ‘give you away’?
The choice is yours!
A wedding is one of the biggest celebrations in life so whatever you decide your vision is, make sure you make it your own. Do it your way!
With our Celebration Ceremonies there are no rules or etiquette, unless you want to of course! When planning your ceremony your qualified celebrant will start with a blank sheet of paper and help guide you through the options or incorporate new ideas so that you find what feels right for you.
We hope we have opened your eyes to just a few of the possibilities. If you would like us to help you do it ‘your way’ then drop Jan a line: firstname.lastname@example.org we love to be part of your special day.