Making An Entrance
(n.) peer pressure from dead people - Anon
Illustration by: @eva.b.prints
[Illustration description: Groom & Bride. The groom on the left has grey hair, a full beard & moustache and is wearing glasses. He is in a waistcoat and trousers with shirt sleeves rolled up and you can see he has tattoos . The bride on the right is wearing her long brown hair down with a flower crown. She is wearing a yellow high neck, full length flowing dress. They aren't smiling but look relaxed ]
Making An Entrance (also commonly referred to as the processional)
You’ve seen it in real life and on film a thousand times over, its THE BIG ENTRANCE!!!
But, hold on. I think this can be a bit of a missed opportunity for couples so I’ve decided to really drill down into this. It’s a question I always ask my couples, how do they want to enter and usually the answer is pretty much the same. I feel it’s an area that can get glossed over because we are so used to seeing this happen a certain way in films and also in our own lives and I wanted to create a conversation around this that excites and challenges the norm.
Now I love tradition, I love exchanging rings and all those things that make a wedding feel weddingy but, I also love that there’s a choice to do something totally different that can be equally brilliant. Lots of people follow tradition because they just aren’t really sure what else to do or else because they feel everyone else expects it.
It’s your wedding day so I say ‘be bold! be brave! be you!’
But what does that mean exactly? (you ask nervously……)
Let’s break this down shall we…
So what does the entrance do?
It provides dramatic purpose so, why not embrace this and explore giving this tradition a little update or else at least giving tradition a little tickle under the arms to shake it loose a little. It also sets your guests up with a whole load of anticipation and excitement.
Historically there was a lot of superstition built into the first time a couple would see each other and also links back to arranged marriages where this might literally be the first time they laid eyes on each other so, it really was a dramatic reveal.
With the magic of hair, make up and fantastic options of what to wear on your big day it still is a big reveal today and a very much anticipated photo op moment.
Lots of couples live together before they get married now and so the mystique of not seeing each other on the day can be shattered by running around madly in your pyjamas in the morning shouting ‘where are my shoes!’ as someone dashes out of the house to let the other one get transformed by all this wizardry. Also, let’s not forget that lots of couples love to spend their morning together knowing that in a few hours everything is going to be different and so feel less strongly about this idea of not seeing each other before the ceremony.
‘First Look’ photoshoots are getting really popular where the couple are ‘revealed’ to each other before the ceremony in a much more private setting and the photographer gets intimate pictures of the emotion behind this moment. So, if you’ve opted for that anyway why not consider making the entrance together? I talk about that a bit more below.
The Classic Entrance
A classic entrance is always a good choice. Everyone understands what it does, what it means and how to react to it. It also means that as either partner you pretty much know what to do, what it means and that you’ll be walking in the footsteps of a gizzillion lovers before you which is reassuring and something to be proud of.
This can go one of two ways, the guests are already seated and the full wedding party enter in an agreed order down the aisle.
One partner, often the groom, is waiting at the front (sometimes awkwardly lets be honest) and after a short introduction the rest of the wedding party enter in an agreed order ending with the entrance of their partner, usually the bride, often with her father.
You could flip the classic on it’s head and have the Bride waiting for the Groom, I’ve never seen it but it would be amazing. A real statement to show the world in what high regard you hold your future husband. I think it would take a really brave bride to do this but I know you brides are out there and this entrance is just waiting for you to grab it by both hands and go let's do it.
For any same sex couples this format may be less comfortable so if you decide to buck the classic trend, you can really go to town.
*Just so you know, for all my love of all things different and taking changes, I opted for the ole classic entrance on my own wedding day and couldn’t have been prouder to walk down with my Papa (my dad - French term) so, I just want to be clear that I am not knocking this as an option in any way. It was the most surreal but brilliant moment. (Surreal because the whole time your brain is saying to you this is actually happening? This is actually happening!). I was so very proud to walk down with him, it was incredible.
Be there together at the start
That’s right, don’t even have an entrance.
Start as you mean to go on, together in place as your family and friends arrive. This is a strong statement and means you can keep it relaxed and welcome people in together. For anyone that is neurodiverse this may also take the pressure off knowing that you have more control and that everyone won’t be looking at you walking in.
Aisle eye view
So most of this conversation is based around how other people will be viewing you both at this moment but let’s start with how will you feel? What’s this moment like in your shoes?
Somewhere, you’ll be waiting out of sight a bit nervous, then you’ll hear the start of the music and that’s it, you’re off! Usually other members of the wedding party will enter before you so you get a few seconds to gather your thoughts before you catch sight of the guests. At this point I’d recommend taking a deep breath and smiling because smiling relaxes lots of tension on your face and also makes you look awesome. Don’t over think how to walk, one foot in front of the other and you can’t go wrong. If you aren’t walking down the aisle, maybe you are being carried in some victory style entrance or, perhaps you use a wheelchair. Whatever way you travel down the aisle just take your time, don’t rush, it only happens once and you want to give your photographer a chance to get some great pics of this moment.
Do consider your photographer. They may well be reversing madly down the aisle backwards to get the perfect shots for you so it doesn’t do any harm to throw a little look or smile in their direction for variety. Don’t fixate on them though, even if they look like they are going to reverse into great Aunt Cathy, they have a special photographers 6th sense and will always make it out of the way in time. I read a blog looking into this where a photographer loved it when the brides wore a veil because he could dramatically back light it so the bride looked like she was glowing. Like in a pop video, how cool! See, easy drama! That one’s not too scary is it?
Just concentrate on the faces of your family and friends, smile at them, happy cry if you feel it and drink it all in. They’ll all be looking at you with love and pride and supporting you every inch of the way.
Do it together
Yes, yes, yes! If I ever re-wedding with Mr Corry I would totally want to enter with him. Coming in as a united front and surprising everyone with the image of you as a couple is so brilliant. It speaks volumes about the respect and balance between you in your partnership and also you’ll be clutching the arm/hand of the person you love most in the world at one of the most exciting points in your ceremony and you can share this TOGETHER!!!! This would be a great opportunity to boogie (does anyone still say boogie?…) into place, maybe with a little spin or a flourish. This would totally relax you both and everyone in the room and set the tone for a fun filled and joyful ceremony to come.
For a little variation on a theme how about entering down 2 aisles? You could really make this magical and special, it would require a slightly different layout of seating but nothing says you have to have one aisle. You could both come down an aisle each or different members of the wedding party could enter down different aisles. It would create great interest, energy and be really memorable. Maybe the co-ordination of that sounds too hard? As a choreographer this kind of thing is my bread and butter and I’d love to help you explore this idea if you like the sound of it.
Maybe your seats are in the round (in a circle) which means your entrance could be more of a spiral shape through the rows, that way you’d experience your group in a totally different way. Basically, if these ideas excite you, let’s have a chat.
Just dance & mix it up
As a dancer I wonder why more people don’t have the group dance in. I didn’t do it either as our choice of music wouldn’t have suited it. But, if you do go for something more uptempo then, enjoy it! It’s a great opportunity to challenge the idea of who does what in the entrance if you go for this approach. I’m a great fan of flower grooms, flower grans/glam-ma’s, well….everyone throwing flowers! There’s some great clips of people dancing in and throwing petals and there’s nothing about any of these entrances that’s not to like. Really fun, an opportunity to enjoy people’s personalities and looks beautiful for the photo’s as well.
This is a great time to include high 5’s within the wedding party or with the guests. A recreation of a bit of a Reservoir dogs vibe with everyone looking super cool in sunglasses? Bridesmaids and groomsmen could be partnered off and have a little twirl, a hug or something cute as they reach the end before they take their seats.
This free feeling of approach would also be a great opportunity for unexpected pairings of people together:
Parents could enter with the groom
The mother of the bride or groom could walk down with her own parents
Grandparents could enter first
A groom could enter solo
A groom could enter with his part of the wedding party (guys or girls)
A groom could enter with the bridesmaids
A bride could enter with the groomsmen etc
Okay, so these might not be for you but it’s at least fun to really think about it and then be happy in the decisions you end up making.
No holds barred/ more is more
Maybe you are naturally a bit extra or you are just thinking ‘sod it, it’s our wedding’ and you want to push the boundaries even further. You could enter on a bicycle or a horse (probably outdoors would be a good shout). Other options to tantalise you could be:
Mini motorised Car
Carried in by the group
Having any small humans as ring bearers entering as secret service with top security vibes
But doesn’t this undermine the moment and the seriousness?….. No, it doesn’t have to. I’m not talking about making a joke out of the moment but being true to yourselves and who you are. If that means that you’ll get joy out of the moment why shouldn’t you? Your family and friends could end up talking about this for years to come.
What if I trip or something goes wrong?
Hey, it happens. Laugh it off. You might be walking in shoes you aren’t used to or long trouser hems or a long dress so a little practice beforehand helps. Maybe one of your flower girls or boys face-plants in front of you, just go with the flow and laugh. If you need, then rope in members of your wedding party to help you out by carrying your train (if you’ve gone full out in the train department) or else picking you up off of the floor if you’ve managed to stack it (this is very, very, very, very, very rare so don’t dwell on this one).
I could write and write on lists of music choices so instead I’ll leave you with a few things to think on.
Do you have any songs or music special to you both? Don’t pick something that isn’t you just because people normally play it at weddings, that will just seem impersonal.
Do pick something that makes you smile, laugh or cry happy tears. Weddings are all about emotion so this is ideal for loosening these at the very start of the ceremony. If your family and friends see you smile, laugh or happy cry then ten to one they’ll start doing the same and then you are really all on the same wavelength from the get go.
Think about the speed of the music you pick. You don’t want to rush down the aisle (as my Papa said to my Maman (mum) on their wedding day 'are you trying to catch a train?'). Picking something that’s a good slowish or steady pace will help you to steady your speed as you walk in. As we say in showbizz ‘milk it!’ Make the most of this moment and this feeling. If you pick a fast piece of music then you are either going to have to walk at half the speed or against the natural feel of the music so your best choice then might be to dance down the aisle which I personally love because that just shows this is going to be a really happy ceremony.
That’s it, you’ve made it to the front, now what?
Well, you’ve successfully arrived at the front of the room and the love of your life is there with you. If you are carrying flowers or anything else then hand them across to one of your wedding party so your hands are free and you can hold your partners hand (if you want). Or, hang onto your stunning flowers or a while longer and working with your celebrant find an appropriate moment to hand them over after the first few minutes.
Then get ready for the next part of one of the best days of your life.
To sum up
I know some people shy away from anything that seems dramatic or in Northern Ireland (where I’m based) it can feel like showing off. Well, spoiler alert my lovely couples, everyone will be looking at you whatever way you enter the room so why not embrace the challenge and give them one to remember. Don’t think about it as showing off, think about it as just having fun and enjoying the moment. As long as you are true to yourself you can’t go wrong.
Not to be underestimated, this is one of THE most important moments of your ceremony. It sets the tone and gets us all excited for what is to come so...
‘be bold! be brave! be you!’