|Me before a wedding at the International School–
near Richmond. Note empty row of chairs in front.
These are reserved for close family members
Dear Engaged Couple—
Today I want to talk about lineups—lineups of family members. It can all seem so very formal—and tedious too, to have to plan who comes in to the wedding when. But if you want your service to look nice and tidy, and well thought through, then you will want to spend some time making a list. Actually, if you choose me as your officiant, I will make a list for you.
|Oh, those dastardly but necessary lists!|
Hopefully, you will have reserved the first (and maybe second) row of chairs just for your close family members. They are your loved ones, after all, and they deserve front-row seats for this, your very important moment. Imagine that your guests are all seated, waiting for the service to begin. If you have music playing (and most weddings do include music), the music may (or may not) change when your close family members enter. You will want to talk with your musician(s) and/or dj about this. I warn you, the more changes in music, the more cues that have to be given, the more complicated the service.
Ok. For the list: Among “close family members” please include your grandparents. You can include other people, too, (the favorite aunt who helped raise you? The uncle who paid for your college tuition?; but your grandparents will expect to be included among your close family members. The groom’s grandparents come in first, then the bride’s. If some of your grandparents are deceased, the ones still living will need escorts. Does granddad have a granddaughter who could accompany him down the aisle? A daughter? A good friend? Work this out BEFORE the rehearsal. Practice, AT the rehearsal.
Next come the groom’s parents, and then the bride’s mother. I say bride’s mom, because usually the bride’s dad escorts the bride down the aisle (although sometimes it’s the mother, sometimes it’s the mother and father together, and sometimes the bride walks down the aisle by herself). If dad is walking you down the aisle, then he won’t be available to accompany his wife (your mother). So, your mother will need an escort. This could be a brother, or an uncle, a close friend. I think it is very touching when the groom escorts his soon-to-be-mother-in-law down the aisle, seats her and then gives her a quick kiss on the cheek. However, this can feel a little weird, if you (the groom), and your future mother-in-law don’t get along very well. If it feels the least bit uncomfortable, don’t do it!
|Family members of groom waiting for the rehearsal to begin.
Keswick Vineyard outside Charlottesville
Now it often happens that some of the parents/grandparents in the wedding are divorced. The bride and groom may not want to have steps or girlfriends/boyfriends in the wedding party. I encourage the couples I marry who are in this situation to err on the side of generosity and inclusivity, if at all possible. It’s a good way to start out a marriage.
If the bride and groom are planning an elaborate church wedding, with utmost decorum, they may want ALL their female family members to be escorted in. So, for instance, instead of the groom’s mother and father walking in together, the groom’s mother will be escorted by a groomsman and the father of the groom will follow behind. I have only officiated at a couple of weddings where this degree of etiquette is followed, but, my goodness, I’m sure that Emily Post was smiling in heaven!
That’s it for today. Happy wedding planning! Your Wedding Preacher