Pairing up your Wedding Party: Who Walks with Who?

by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant © (21/01/2021)
Categories: | Wedding Ceremony | Wedding Traditions |
previous    |    contents    |    next   >

Wedding party walking out of the ceremonyHow do you match up pairs in your wedding party? We're talking about the formal walk in (the processional), the formal walk out (the recessional), and the formal entrance into the reception. The tradition is simple and clear - at least it used to be. Guys up the front. Girls and children walk in with the bride. Everyone walks out  of the ceremony and into the reception in pairs. Except that it is no longer as simple as that when you've tossed the idea of a wedding party strictly divided along gender lines and your I Do Crew is made up of your besties with no regard for equal numbers or matchy matchy on gender.

So, what are your options?  Do you have to add an extra or two to even up the numbers? Of course not. It's your wedding, not a dinner party at Downton Abbey! Tradition isn't law. And who walks with whom, and in what order are practicalities that can be easily sorted out with a little thought.

Oh, and heads up. You don't have to have a formal walk in, a formal walk out, or a formal entrance with announcements into your reception! 

Sticking with old tradition


The tradition, at least for middle-class weddings (more about that later), is to have the same number of bridesmaids as you do groomsmen. When there is a bride and a groom, of course. When there are two brides or two grooms the same deal applies about numbers.

How the processional unfolds depends on regional tradition, but if you go back to Queen Victoria's wedding, the original template for white weddings, the bride walks in first, followed by her attendants, who will be in pairs (making it easy to carry Her Majesty's train). And she has far more attendants than does the groom. Something we still see in British Royal, aristocratic, and upper class weddings.

In Australia the traditional wedding party and processional order has changed over the years, so that it is widely accepted that children and bridesmaids walk in first, usually in single file, followed by the MOH (Maid or Matron of Honour depending on whether she is married or not), with the bride, escorted by her father, entering last. The groom, his Best Man, plus as many groomsmen as there are bridesmaids, are waiting up the front.  And everyone walks out in pairs, marrying couple first.

New tradition customs

In man
New tradition is pick who you want to stand up with you, regardless of gender or numbers. Which means you have to work out the choreography - who walks with who, and in what order. A new(ish) tradition I love is the groomsmen escorting the bridesmaids in as well as out. Time to make some decisions.

Who walks with who and who stands closest to you

In man
There are various ways to pair up the two sides of you wedding party. Your choice.
  • The Traditional Pairing - by role
    So the Best Man will always be paired with the Maid/Matron of Honour. And these will always stand right next to you. But you can extend that. If you have members of your wedding party doing readings or otherwise taking an active part in the ceremony, pair those.
  • Pair partners with one another
    If they are a couple in real life, pair them up in your wedding party.
  • Pair them by height
    Pairing the tallest bridesmaid with the tallest groomsman has loads of benefits. If you send the shortest couple down the aisle first, followed by the others in order of height, it looks great and makes the photographer's job easier. Added bonus is that when they line up on either side of you for the ceremony it is symmetrical.
  • Pair them by age
    Junior Bridesmaid with Junior Groomsman is a no-brainer. If your wedding party is made up of your siblings, pairing them in birth order works too.  But if your I Do Crew is made up of besties you went to school with, you might need to use one of the other criteria.
  • Pair them by where they are on the extovert/introvert continuum
    Particularly if the two sides of your wedding party don't know one another, asking yourselves who will get on with who can pay dividends in how comfortable they are and how they interact. While you're not matchmaking, sometimes magic happens.

Think totally outside the box

Is your Nan going to be one of your bridesmaids? Pair her with the person she knows best - regardless of gender, role,  or age or co-opt someone who is not in the wedding party to do escort duty for the walk down the aisle.

Will one of your wedding party not be at the rehearsal? Pair that person with someone you can trust to brief them thoroughly and guide them through what they have to do.
Thanks for reading!
Jenny xxx Let's talk soon about how you
                      can have the best ceremony ever
< previous    |    contents     |    next     |    get in touch >
0  Thingsskills