Wedding etiquette: An old-fashioned bridal procession (1893)

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The marriage of TRH the Duke and Duchess of York, 6 July 1893

Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.

The bridal procession

The groom drives directly to the church where he and his best man wait in the vestry until the arrival of the bride is announced. Her carriage is the last to leave her house, and she is accompanied by her father or the one who is to give her away.

The wedding party, with the exception of the groom and his best man, assemble in the waiting rooms at the entrance to the church where the procession is formed. It does not start till the clergyman has entered the chancel and the groom and his best man following have taken their places at the clergyman’s left.

The ushers, two and two, walk first, followed by the bridesmaids, two and two, the maid of honor walking by herself after the bridesmaids and immediately in front of the bride. If there be pages, they follow the bride, sometimes holding her train.

It is now customary for the party to halt as they reach the lowest step to the altar and for the groom to come down take the bride by her hand and lead her to her place. The ushers file to the left, the bridesmaids to the right, and the father stands directly behind the bride.

The wedding party in the church

The procession approaching the altar / At the altar / Leaving the altar

1893 Wedding procession etiquette tips

The wedding ceremony

An old English custom which has been introduced at several weddings of late, though not, we believe, at the Heavenly Rest, as it is thought to savor of ritualism is for the groom to meet the bride and for them to remain on the platform above the lowest step.

The clergyman leaves the chancel and begins the service, reading as far as the end of the betrothal when he returns to the chancel, the party follow, and the ceremony is completed in the customary place.

MORE: The etiquette of marriage: The ceremony & after (1850)

In approaching the altar, the bride and groom kneel for a moment, and the other members of the party remain standing but with heads bowed. The same form is observed during the prayers incident to the ceremony.

The best man takes charge of the ring. and gives it to the groom at the right moment.

In leaving the chancel, the bride and groom pass first, and the order of the procession is thus reversed; the best man walks with the father immediately after the bridesmaids, and the ushers pass down last of all.

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