Sealed with a kiss!

Sealed with a kiss!
Laura & Chris' Wedding at JCRaulston Arboretum

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ten Tips for Walking Down the Aisle!

I just looked at my Facebook page and saw that my friend and wedding colleague, Craig Carpenter of Luster Studios, has posted a few tips on looking your best walking down the aisle. They are great and I thought I would add some more from my 12 years of experience watching brides walk down the aisle toward me. (All the photos are from my weddings in 2010 and have their own posts of the complete wedding on this blog.)
1.  Who walks the bride down the aisle? Some brides tell me that they do not want their father or mother or anyone else walking them down the aisle because they are independent women and fully capable of walking themselves in. I agree with all that but it stills looks kind of lonesome when the bride walks down the aisle all by herself. I suggest to the bride and groom that the bride walk about halfway down the aisle or from the entrance to the back of the rows of chairs alone while her bridegroom starts walking from his spot next to me toward her. They meet in the middle and come to their positions in front of me together. They and I just love that idea and the symbolism of them coming together to be married.  Christy and Charles above decided that is what they wanted to do. Wedding was at The Umstead.
Shelley was counting on her father walking her down the aisle--and she needed his help getting up those stairs with that gorgeously full wedding gown!This wedding was at Haywood Hall in Raleigh.
Danielle wanted her mother to walk with her down the aisle at Duke Gardens.
Lia chose to have her mother and her grandfather escort her down the aisle at Barclay Villa.
Krystal makes sure she does not fall behind her parents as they walk down the aisle. This photo is courtesy of Amy Turner. The wedding was at Brier Creek Country Club.

If both parents are escorting you in, it is really important that it does not look like they are "dragging" you down the aisle, so step a little ahead of them rather than lagging a little behind.

2. Make sure your wedding dress is not too long.  I can't tell you  how many times I have seen brides stumble and almost trip on the front of their dresses! Take into account the shoes you will be wearing and if you will be walking on carpeting or grass as it will make the front of your dress drag making it too easy to step on the front hem. If that happens while you are walking down the aisle, the only alternative at that point is to gently kick the front of your dress forward as you walk! Remember, you will not have an extra hand to lift the front of your dress because you will be holding your bouquet in your left hand and your right hand will be on your father's arm.

3. Beware aisle runners! The vision of a beautiful white aisle is tempting but the only suitable aisle runner is a strip of carpet or heavy fabric that has been affixed to the surface underneath it. The runners that are sold to brides in bridal shops or on line that are on a cardboard roll with ropes at each end are really paper or paper-like and will not lay straight on carpet, grass or wooden floors (unless taped down). They will catch on the attendants' heels, fly up if there is the least bit of a breeze, twist and wrinkle and become hazardous. A pretty option for aisles is to sprinkle or line them with flower petals. See my prior post about runners here
These bridesmaids are entering a wedding at the new NC Museum of Art on Blue Ridge Road. 
 Janice and Luke at Duke Gardens pergola, photo courtesy of Melissa Kay Photography.
This is a wedding at Caffe Luna. The girls are holding their bouquets just right! 
Wedding at The Umstead. Ami Wheeler has the bridesmaids all lined up and cues them one at a time.

4. Bouquets should be held at belly-button height. I like Craig's suggestion of making a diamond shape with your arms. Clever! And this goes for the bridesmaids as well.

5. Dad's job as the escort: At rehearsals I tell fathers escorting their daughters in that they have two important jobs:
    a. Keep the bride from galloping down the aisle so she can "float" down the aisle smiling and making eye contact with him, the guests standing in her honor, and her waiting groom.
    b. Look down after he has transferred the bride's hand into the groom's hand so he won't trip on the bride's train on the way to his seat.Yep, it happened once. Thankfully the father did not fall down and the bride's train did not rip. It was a scary and embarrassing moment though!
Laura is escorted by her father at Anderson Point Park
Our Maid of Honor enters the altar area created at Solas for Jonell and Scott's wedding.

6. What's the hurry! Bridesmaids tend to hurry down the aisle but should "float" down the aisle as well, taking their time and walking in time with the music of the processional.
Here is another one at Duke Gardens pergola. Danielle's mother transfers Danielle's hand into Chris' hand before they ascend the steps to the top.
Another bride at Duke Gardens pergola escorted in by her mother. Janice is handing off her bouquet to the Maid of Honor who has come down the steps to get it.
A kiss for Mom, then she is seated as Janice and Luke go to the top of the steps to join me for the ceremony.
Jessica is escorted down the aisle by her very proud papa at The Umstead
Carolyn and her father made the very long walk from the pavilion to the lakeside terrace for her wedding ceremony at the Pavilions at Angus Barn.

7. It is customary for the father of the bride to escort the bride in on his left side which is nearest to his heart. Once the bride and her father have arrived at the end of the aisle, the bride hands her bouquet off to the Maid of Honor who hands it down to the next bridesmaid so she can fluff the bride's dress when she turns to face the groom. When the music fades, the officiant asks the father the question of the bride's choice (i.e. "Who blesses and support this woman as she comes to be joined in marriage with this man?") and he answers. Or there is no question asked. Then the father transfers the bride's right hand into the groom's left hand, bride gives Dad a little kiss, he turns and goes to his seat while the guests are seated and the bride and groom turn and face each other holding both hands, centered in front of the officiant. Maid of Honor fluffs bride's dress if needed then retrieves the bride's bouquet from the next bridesmaid.
At the Grand Marquis Ballroom, Patty was escorted in by her dad while Steve waited at the foot of the steps for them and the transfer of hands. See the bridesmaid on the left who walked over and took the bride's bouquet so that the bride will have a free hand to lift up her dress as she goes up the steps.

This is a wedding in Long View Center taken in 2008 when Unity of the Triangle was renting the space. It is now owned by another church and not open to the public for weddings. 

8. How to handle steps: At the pergola at Duke Gardens or Long View Center or the Grand Marquis Ballroom or any other venue where there are steps to get up to the "altar" where the bride, groom and I will stand for the ceremony, I like to have the father transfer the bride to the groom at the bottom of the steps. There are several reasons why. First of all it saves the father (who may not be very agile or may be really nervous) from having to go up and down the steps. Second, the ascent from the ground level to the top of the steps is symbolic of the couple taking their relationship to a higher level. So, logistically, here is how we do it: When the bride and her father or escort begin walking down the aisle, the groom then steps down to the ground level to await the bride. When father and bride reach the bottom of the steps, the bride hands off her bouquet to the nearest bridesmaid who passes it to the Maid of Honor. The father transfers the bride's hand to the groom's right hand. Then the groom places his left hand on the small of the bride's back to help support her up the steps as she uses her left hand to lift the front of her dress. Once up and in place, the Maid of Honor fluffs the bride's dress.

9. Walk naturally and leisurely.  Please, please,  please, do not do the "two step" down the aisle. Know what I mean? Take a step, stop, then take another step. This looks so stilted and especially awkward because Dad has to do it with you. I remember doing a wedding about 4 years ago when the bride did the two step all the way around the swimming pool. Her poor brother who was escorting her had to do it too and it was really silly looking--and it took forever! This goes for the bridesmaids too.

10. SMILE! This is your wedding day! Relax and look around and make eye contact with your friends and loved ones who are honoring you this day. Needless to say, this goes for the bridesmaids too!

Happy Wedding!

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