“I call shotgun! I’m entering the Chuppah first!”
Sorry honey, it doesn’t work that way…
Just like many other traditions, Jewish wedding ceremonies have a traditional processional order. While the order may vary slightly from one Jewish denomination to another (Orthodox vs Conservative vs Reform) or even from one couple to another – most Jewish weddings pretty much follow the same order.
Here’s how it goes…
Table of Contents
Which Side Are You On?
Traditionally, the bride stands on the right side of the Chuppah, with her family and bridesmaid either standing behind her or seated in the first row. The groom stands on the left side, with his family and groomsmen behind him or seated in the first row.
Note: If you’re used to Christian weddings – then you’ll notice it’s the exact opposite.
While that’s the tradition, these laws aren’t set in stone. There’s no Jewish law mandating who stands where, so feel free to switch sides if one of you prefers one side over the other (compromises, baby! That’s what love is all about!).
Tip: One notable exception is if you’re attending an Orthodox wedding with separated seating (using a divider). In that case, the bride will stand on the right side – facing the women, and the groom will stand on the left side, facing the men. In that case, the order can’t be changed on a whim.
The Processional Order
Here’s the processional order common in Jewish weddings:
- The Rabbi or cantor (stands at the center of the Chuppah)
- The bride’s grandparents (seated in the first row on the right side)
- The groom’s grandparents (seated in the first row on the left side)
- Groomsmen, in pairs
- Best man, by himself
- The groom, escorted by his parents (his mother on the right and his father on the left). The groom stands on the left side of the Chuppah
- Bridesmaids, in pairs
- Maid of honor, alone
- Ring bearer and/or flower girl
- The bride, escorted by her parents (her mother on the right and her father on the left). The bride stands on the right side of the Chuppah
- The bride stops in the middle of the aisle. The groom then walks towards the bride, acknowledges his future in-laws, and escorts the bride to the Chuppah.
The Recessional Order
Traditionally, there is also a recessional order. It follows almost the same order as the procession (with a few minor changes), only reversed:
- The bride and groom
- The bride’s parents
- The groom’s parents
- The bride’s grandparents
- The groom’s grandparents
- Maid of honor
- Bridesmaids and groomsmen
- The Rabbi
While the recessional order sounds nice on paper, not many Jewish weddings follow this practice. What happens instead, is when the groom breaks the glass, guests often rush to the Chuppah to congratulate the couple and the Chuppah. Good luck pulling off a recessional order when that happens…
Most Jewish weddings follow the processional order I described above.
Some couples may modify it slightly out of necessity (if for example, the groom’s grandparents are deceased), but for the most part – Jewish couples follow the same process.
Why reinvent the wheel, when the wheel has proven to spin reliably for so many generations?
Couples are better off spending their time and energy on the things that matter. And thankfully, there’s no shortage of important things to take care of when planning your Jewish wedding.
Mazel Tov 🙂