The Walk Down the Aisle

Get David Tutera's top tips for planning a memorable wedding processional.

There are key moments in your wedding that are crucial when planning how you execute it; moments like your first dance or the exchange of vows during the ceremony. But the first (and most important) is when the bride walks down the aisle—also called the processional.

Bride Walking Down Aisle
Photo Credit: Smith Studios Photography

There's a lot that goes into that moment. It's a serene, almost out-of-body experience. And there are pieces you need to have in place in order to make that moment special. You are basically choreographing thirty seconds of music to accompany your walk. The music that you pick here is bar-none the most important piece of music at the ceremony. Whether it's classical, a show tune, top 40, or something that sparks a memory that makes you happy, you have to pick something that's meaningful to you. The traditional wedding march is, to me, a safe back-up—but it's so generic. It's almost as if the guests coming to your wedding could close their eyes and when they hear it, they could be at anybody's wedding. You want them to know they're at your wedding.

I like to enhance this moment; change the lights as the bride enters the room and then when she completes her walk down the aisle. Or, backlight the bride, so that she has a light behind her, making her appear to glow and look as if she's floating.

Now, I'm begging every bride out there to please wear a veil. Please. It's the only time ever in your life when you should wear a veil, so wear it! One of the biggest decisions in wearing a veil is, "Do I or don't I wear a blusher with it?" The blusher is the short piece of fabric worn over the face and pulled back at the end of the aisle by the bride's father or the groom. It's a personal decision. I particularly don't like blushers. The problem for me is, when the bride is smiling, crying, emotional, looking around, you can't see her. It's kind of like a negative energy—that the blusher is a wall between her and everybody else. I love it when you can see the bride and how she's feeling. With a blusher, you're missing out on these great moments—not to mention, you won't see much in your photos. And then when it's worn and pulled back, it's never done right; it's either hanging weird or in her eyes... it's terrible. So, I'm not a big fan of the blusher, which some people fight me on because it's a big tradition. I mean, yes, it is only thirty seconds, but it's an important thirty seconds.

Photo Credit: Muriel Silva Photography

So now you have the music, the lights, and the blusher... onto the pace. It's crucial that you are not flying down the aisle. We get that you are excited to marry your groom, but stop to take it all in. I tell all my brides: "Breathe, look, listen and watch. That thirty seconds will go by in a millisecond, and you need to just take your time."

Then, of course, the last item— and possibly the most important— is who is walking you down the aisle? Tradition calls for it always to be your father. I, as everyone knows, don't always follow tradition. If your father is in your life, and he's an important person to you, then absolutely. Is your mother your best friend and you want to invite her to walk you down the aisle with your father—which is what happens in a Jewish ceremony—I favor that big time. If your parents are deceased and your oldest brother is there to walk you down the aisle, again, that's perfectly acceptable.

Mother and Father Walk Bride Down the Aisle
Photo Credit: Kimberly Chau Photography

And, not to say that it's wrong, but if you don't have anyone you feel comfortable asking, you can walk by yourself, though I'm not an advocate of it. I think that having someone next to you is to have a support system, rather than to go it alone. And there's creative things you can do, too. I've seen people with two dads—-a biological and a stepdad— both walk the bride down the aisle, or she walks with one halfway, stops, and the other takes her the rest of the way. The point of this is, don't assume that it has to be your biological dad; don't assume that, if your dad isn't around, you can't go with somebody else.

Your entire wedding begins the moment you begin your walk. Make it special, and make it you.

Down the Aisle in Style,
David Tutera