When you think of a processional what comes to mind? The processional is usually the beginning of a wedding ceremony. Steeped in tradition, this grand entrance is often layered with meaning and sentimental values. Even the most non-traditional couple can surprise me with how much importance they place on this part of their ceremony.
But I’ll be honest, when I think of processionals, I think of speech night at school. All the teachers enter in their robes to an orchestral piece that is low and sombre. Or the ‘Here Comes The Bride’ tune pipes up in my brain, trumpets and all.
We’ve managed to modernise this element of the wedding ceremony by asking couples to choose a song which resonates with them. Inviting an acoustic performance to set the scene for romance. Or by playing something more upbeat via Bluetooth speaker.
But in actual fact, this part of the ceremony has so many exciting ways to ditch formality while keeping the tradition. To really personalise your entry and make it memorable.
Earlier in the year, I sat in on a dress rehearsal Ebony Carver Celebrant was holding. And wow! Talk about flip the script on the old daggy wedding processional! Since then I’ve found out Ebony is the queen of making this part of the ceremony the real party starter.
I sat down with Ebony to talk about her experiences with creating processionals that pack a punch, here’s what she said.
Probably Chloe and Beau’s processional at Pier 10 Winery in Shoreham! Beau and his groomsmen thought it wasn’t fair for Chloe and her bridesmaids to have ALL the focus and fun, deciding that they’d make a special entrance of their own. It was planned and rehearsed in secret, with only the bridal party in on the surprise.
When the big day came around, Beau and the boys casually chatted to family and friends, sipping on cold beers in the hot afternoon sun. Then when Chloe arrived just before kick-off, I ushered the guests into the ceremony space and began my housekeeping. However, there was no Beau to be seen… nor his groomsmen. They were patiently waiting inside for their cue.
When it was time, I gave the nod, and the 90’s dancefloor classic “I like to move it” by ‘Reel 2 Real’ pumped loudly through the speakers. Beau and his groomsmen burst through the doors in a single conga line, dancing, shimmying and high fiving everyone as they moved their way down the aisle. It had everyone in hysterics and set the tone for a fun, entertaining and memorable wedding ceremony.
Beau and his boys in full conga line glory - photography by Keoni Joy Photography
Q: When you talk to couples about the processional, how do you approach ideas for mixing it up?
It begins with the first meeting. A lot of couples don’t realise how much they can personalise their wedding ceremony. Aside from some legal words and paperwork, the rest really is a blank canvas. I have a password protected portal on my website that includes a section for ‘ceremony planning’ - providing lots of ideas and inspiration. When I meet with my couples to plan their ceremony, we discuss these ideas in more detail, fleshing out what might work for them. It’s not for everyone though! I always remind my couples to choose things that are in line with their personalities, style and the overall vibe they’re hoping to create - things that are authentically ‘them’. Then all they need to do is fully commit to whatever they’ve chosen and just have fun with it!
Normally when they make the initial enquiry: “we want a fun, light hearted and memorable ceremony - i.e. no boring bits!” Sometimes a couple will come to me with their own suggestions, and other times they’ll want to be guided by me. It’s the Celebrants job to provide ideas and inspiration, but it’s the couples job to ultimately make the final decision.
I married Carly and Simon at The Prince in St Kilda in 2019. They had already considered a number of ways to make their ceremony stand out, wanting to create a little ‘magic’ that took their ceremony to the ‘next level’. Prior to their wedding day, they filmed a short cinematic/interview style clip with their videographer. We mapped out when and how the 3 min video would play with the help of their Event Manager. On the day, I began with some housekeeping, before asking their guests to turn towards the projector screen to the side of the ceremony space. The video played, then the music began, with Carly making her solo entrance down the aisle. Not only did the video help captivate her audience, it set the tone for an engaging, unique and incredibly touching ceremony.
We ended it with a champagne sabrage! Then after they’d poured the giant bottle of bubbles over the champagne tower and grabbed a glass each, they walked back down the aisle (straight to the bar!), as a newly married couple!
Carly and Simon filling their glasses to the brim straight after their wedding ceremony - photography by Ali Bailey
Q: Of the weddings you’ve done, is there a processional entrance that sticks out in your mind, and why?
It would have to be Sarah and Tim’s processional at The Log Cabin Ranch in Monbulk. They asked Sarah’s brother-in-law to take on the role of ‘Flower Man’. Just like the traditional role of a flower girl… instead, carried out by a fully grown and incredibly cheeky man ;)
As the music began to play, the barn doors opened and in walked the flower man, holding a basket of rose petals. What began as a sombre, two step, tongue in cheek scattering of rose petals, transformed into a hilarious performance: skipping, leaping and prancing down the aisle, throwing rose petals up in the air, before finishing with an elaborate twirl and curtsy to end! Again, it set the tone for an engaging and light-hearted ceremony that had everyone in stitches. Meaning they were fully on board and ready for fun right from the get-go!
Here comes the...Flower Man! The bride's brother-in-law loving his special role in the wedding - photography by Duncan Macaulay Photography
Q: What are your tips for pulling off a processional entrance that is far from boring?
Make it your own, be authentic and don’t be afraid to take risks. And rehearse it if you can! Not all weddings need to be wacky, wild and ‘out there’. The best ceremonies always have the right balance of feels: love, laughter and happy tears. But couples should remember that their ceremony is an opportunity to celebrate their love, their individuality and make it a day that neither they or their guests will ever forget. I think we’ve all been to our fair share of weddings that were pretty stock standard. Ones where we struggle to remember the finer details and can’t wait for the bar to open! Why not talk to your Celebrant about some unique ideas that truly represent you, your relationship and take your ceremony to the next level?! Not only will it kick start your party, but it’ll carry the vibe from the ceremony right through to the reception. You won’t regret it!
Ebony and I both agree, your wedding ceremony is a chance to truly express who you are from the moment it begins to the moment you’re walking back down the aisle as a married couple. Thinking of ways to create unique moments that are so you is our specialty.
If you’ve got some whacky processional ideas or want to get the party started from the get-go, chat to us about how it’s done!
x Prue & Ebony