About the Processional
Although it takes a variety of forms, the wedding processional is always the first component of every wedding. It involves the seating of the guests in the wedding space and the subsequent entrance of the bridal party.
The processional is a relatively minor part of every wedding and has little to no speaking on the part of the wedding officiant or other wedding organizers but is nonetheless important to plan for. Every Universal Life Church wedding officiant should read this section before they perform a wedding.
The following videos should give you an idea of how wedding processionals are conducted. The first is formatted in a highly traditional way, while the second is probably the most fun and entertaining wedding entrance you will ever see.
Planning the Processional
The processional is not so much about expressing the couple's identity as it is about getting everyone - guests, bridesmaids, groomsmen, and the couple themselves - into place. Concordantly, the processional is less colorful and more about tradition than other components of the wedding.
Of course, the beauty of being a Universal Life Church wedding officiant is that you and the couple are allowed to plan their wedding in any way you choose. Feel free to facilitate a couple's wishes by making their processional a parade of their personalities if they want it to be one; it is the couple's big day and they are able to celebrate it how they like. However, be aware that it might be a bit jarring for the wedding guests to have a vivid, energetic display of personality before the ceremony even begins.
Even in secular, non-traditional weddings it is customary to play traditional weddings songs like Wagner's Bridal Chorus and Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. While it is possible to pull off playing fun contemporary songs during the processional (as the above "JK Wedding Dance Entrance" video illustrates perfectly), the Universal Life Church staff can say from personal experience that more often than not they are less appreciated than traditional songs would have been, especially among older wedding guests.
All of the above being said, you and the couple should sit down and discuss how they want the processional to be organized (i.e. how and when the guests, bridesmaids and groomsmen, and the couple should take their places). Processionals are typically formatted in the following order:
The wedding officiant, groom, best man, and groomsmen enter (although the groomsmen may accompany the bridesmaids when they enter).
The bridesmaids enter from the rear of the wedding space.
The maid/matron of honor enters from the back of the wedding space after all the bridesmaids have done the same.
The ring bearer enters.
The flower girls enter, immediately before the bride.
The bride enters, usually on the left arm of an escort.
Also, make sure to decide on the wedding music at least several weeks before the ceremony is scheduled to take place; it can take time to assemble the wedding playlist once its contents have been finalized. The following section has information on what to put in this playlist, and even has a link to a section of this site where you can download six classic wedding songs completely free of charge.
Sample Processional Music Songs
Most Western weddings traditions were created centuries ago, and the songs that are typically played during this part of the ceremony are equally old.
Pachelbel's Canon - Beautiful, slow, and pensive are probably the best words anyone can use to describe this classic orchestral song. People with keen musical ears will be able to discern the titular series of four musical "voices" laid out on top of each other that comprise this song and make it truly magical.
Spring Movement 1 Allegro - The lively first movement of Vivaldi's Spring violin concerto is the first of four in his "Seasons" suite. It is just as lovely now as it was when it was composed in the 18th century; the couple and their guests are sure to appreciate it.
Wagner's Bridal Chorus - This song is generally played when the father of the bride leads her to the altar or wherever the wedding officiant is performing the wedding. The Bridal Chorus is by far the most popular wedding tune; it is extremely likely that every couple you perform a wedding for will want to have this song played during their ceremony.
If the couple is interested in playing wedding music that is a little less dated and a bit more fun during the processional, we advise you check out the Wedding Music in our Minister Store.
This is the first post in the Universal Life Church's five part Perform a Wedding Series. We hope you enjoyed it and found it educational! The purpose of this series is to prepare/train you to plan and then perform a wedding. Read this blog post to learn more about the series and make sure to give us feedback, if you have any.