Wedding tradition dictates that the groom enters from the right and waits for the bride to walk down the aisle with her father. However, tradition is malleable. Etiquette changes to conform to social norms (but it does take a little time). This is why today it’s also acceptable for the groom to walk down the aisle and wait for the bride to follow.
Where do we turn when the rules of etiquette haven’t quite caught up with current social circumstances? Who walks down the aisle if we have two brides? If we have two grooms do they both enter from the right? How do we balance our guest’s expectations of tradition with the unique needs of our weddings?
Most guests expect to stand, turn, and see the bride enter and walk down the aisle. So why not give them what they’re looking for? It’s your day and there’s no better way to make an entrance than to do so when all eyes are upon you! First one, then the other. Pace your music so the second bride’s entrance doesn’t begin until the first bride is in position. This gives your guests a moment to regroup before they turn around for the second bride. If you’re going for traditional music, you might want to repeat “The Wedding March” clearly signaling a second entrance. If you have opted for some other musical selection, make sure it signals that the second bride is about to enter. If your music doesn’t lend itself to this treatment, then you may want to have someone simply announce the entrance of each bride. You want your guests to know when to turn and have their cameras ready!
If one if you is going to be escorted by your father (or mother, or both parents) and “given away” but the other is not, it makes sense the bride being escorted goes second (otherwise to whom is Dad “giving away” his daughter?) Here, I really must take a moment to editorialize. Since this tradition goes back to times when women were considered possessions, isn’t it time to be escorted – but not “given” away? This tradition, today, has come to signify the parent “letting go” of their child who is getting married. This may be a significant ritual, for both you and your parent, that you would like to include in the ceremony. I just ask that you consider the origins when titling this ritual as being either escorted or given away.
If both of you are being “given away,” or neither of you are then just decide what order you’re going down the aisle. Alphabetical order seems straight-forward enough. You could also start with the bride who will be standing on the left (since we read from left to right). Another good way to decide is to keep the order in which your names appeared on the wedding invitations. After all, you may have had your reasons for the sequence of the names on your invitation – let this decision carry through to the ceremony. Following the invitation’s sequence helps to build repetition and you never go wrong with consistency.
Since it’s your wedding and you should do it your way, if one of you wants to enter from the side and wait for the other to walk down the aisle, then do it! But, before you do, remember that walk down the aisle is your chance to shine like a star.
If you’re keeping with tradition … since you’re not yet “united”, you may not care for the last option which is to enter together and walk down the aisle together. However, if you do like that option – then make your wedding the way you want it to be.
Entering from the right might be right for you if the groom standing to the left wants to walk down the aisle but the groom on the right does not. This is something your guests are accustomed to experiencing at other weddings.
If both of you really dislike the idea of walking down the aisle (it may seem too effeminate for your comfort) then enter from the sides. That’s right, just as one groom enters from the right, the other groom can enter from the left. You can enter simultaneously, or sequentially, whatever best fits the pacing of the music you’ve chosen for your processional. This keeps a symmetrical, and yet masculine, appearance. Make sure the music signals the entrance (or entrances). When we hear “The Wedding March”, most think “here comes the bride!” You don’t want your entrance(s) to be missed because your aunt was looking for a hanky in her purse. If a musical cue doesn’t fit your plans, you can simply have your names announced as you enter.
In my opinion, the best entrance is one that is as special as possible. Each of you can walk down the aisle. Grooms in traditional (mixed-sex) ceremonies do it all the time. So why not take turns being escorted by your parents (or father or mother)? Or walk with your Best Man. If you’re really confident, you can make that walk alone. Walking down the aisle gives you the best chance to be seen, and to see the faces of those who have come to see your wedding. It’s also one of the best photo ops for your guests.
Again, it’s your wedding and if you want to enter together and walk down the aisle together then do it your way. I just think the ceremony of uniting two individuals should start with individual entrances followed by a united exit together after the ceremony.
In conclusion (and in exiting)
No matter where each of you enters, you want your guests to know an entrance is being made. If they have to look around for you, they’ll find you as long as they know you’re coming. Music is the least intrusive way to notify your guests but an announcement is preferable to nothing.
Let’s remember the basic rule for weddings when social etiquette hasn’t established the standard – if the practice doesn’t detract from the purpose of the ceremony, and it feels right to both of you – then it’s the right way for your wedding.