If okay if you don't have the average family.
Credit: Amber Gress

If your wedding calls for a traditional ceremony but your family is anything but, have no fear. Thinking about your processional beforehand helps to avoid awkward decisions or conversations in the moment. The good news is there's no end to the possible combinations and arrangements you can decide to use for your processional, and we chatted with Lindsay Longacre of LVL Events and Taylor Burton-Edwards of The United Methodist Church to gather a few solutions for any modern family.

If your parents are divorced and single…

If you're the bride and you'd prefer for the walk down the aisle to be a father-daughter moment, that's perfectly fine. Your dad walks with you and your mom gets her pick in terms of escort-whether it be her son, a groomsmen, or another family member. If the groom's parents are divorced, consider their relationship before making any plans. In the event that they're still on good terms, consider sending them down the aisle together, but make sure to ask if they're comfortable with the idea first. Last but not least, you can ask both parents-on either side of the aisle-to walk with the man or woman of the hour. The bride or groom can serve as a buffer between the parents, and everyone gets an important role in the processional.

If your parents are divorced and both are re-married or in a relationship...

Consider letting your parents walk down the aisle with their new partners. "This works great if the couple is close with stepparents and they have been remarried and a part of their life for a while," says Longacre. Additionally, if you have a stepparent that has played a significant role in your life, there's no end to the special ways to honor them. "I have actually had two fathers before," explains Longacre. "A stepfather who pretty much raised his stepdaughter and the father who wasn't really involved much but the bride still felt it was important to have her real dad walk her down the aisle." In that event, the stepfather ended up being the couple's officiant.

If you're not comfortable with your parents' new partners walking down the aisle, that's okay, too. "I often tell couples that if they are not close to their stepparents, they have no obligation include them in the ceremony." Longacre says. This is where assigned seating is a strategically smart move. "Before the ceremony starts I would ask them to be seated with the other guests. This is where it is great to put actual names on each seat of the reserved seating so no one has to guess."

If parents are divorced and only one is re-married or in a relationship...

If you have a flower girl or ring bearer that's nervous to walk down alone, consider asking your mom or dad to walk with those children, giving them a special role with some of the cutest in the bridal party and ensuring they feel included. In the event that the single parent feels uncomfortable with the prospect of walking solo while her ex has an escort, you can always level the playing field and ask the new partner to sit out the aisle and help out in another way. In a religious ceremony, bringing up the gifts to the altar or performing a reading can be nice ways to honor your stepparent or your parent's new significant other.

A final note...

In general, the best thing you can do to avoid any misunderstandings or confusion during the rehearsal or on the wedding day is to work closely with your officiant beforehand and create a plan of action. "As a practical matter, I generally make it clear in rehearsals that I lead that I am in charge of the rehearsal," says Burton-Edwards, "and that if there are questions or issues about a particular decision that has been made about the ceremony that may need further clarification, I will consult with the bride (and only the bride) for the final decision on the matter." Such a declaration upfront takes all the pressure off the bride and groom and keeps all the attention on the happy event to come.


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