This Is How You Should Line up Your Wedding Party

Not sure if it should be by height, importance or even hair color? Read this.
kim forrest the knot
Kim Forrest
kim forrest the knot
Kim Forrest
Senior Editor
  • Kim writes and edits articles for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in etiquette and planning advice
  • Kim manages freelance writers for The Knot Worldwide
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Kim was Associate Bridal Editor at Washingtonian magazine and Associate Fashion Editor at Conde Nast’s Brides Local magazines
Updated Nov 18, 2022

One of the most important wedding party responsibilities is to stand beside the couple at the altar. And no matter how many bridesmaids, groomsmen, and other wedding party members you have (and trust us, there's no prescribed amount), it can be tricky figuring out a way to line them up that makes sense. Of course, you probably want it to be aesthetically pleasing—but you also don't want to hurt anyone's feelings by intentionally placing them on the outer edge of the lineup.

Well, we're here to help. You have a few options when it comes to lining up your wedding party at the altar (with some being a little more unbiased than others). Find a way that fits your group, below.

Who Traditionally Stands at the Altar During the Wedding Ceremony?

At the beginning of the ceremony, the couple's officiant and VIPs walk down the aisle and arrange themselves at the altar. Typically, the wedding party members stand at the altar with the couple—though it is optional for the flower girl and ring bearer to stand during the wedding ceremony (it's tough to stand still at any age, but particularly for little ones!). Instead, the youngest attendants may sit in the front row. And at Jewish weddings, the couple's parents stand with them under the chuppah, while in non-Jewish weddings, the parents of the couple sit in the front row to watch the ceremony proceedings. Also note that ushers do not typically stand at the altar, but sit in one of the first rows.

If the wedding is for a couple of the opposite sex, the bride stands on the left side and the groom on the right side (except in Jewish weddings, where it's reversed). The bridesmaids and other bridal attendants usually line up behind the bride on the left, and the groomsmen and groom's attendants on the right. More recently, some couples are opting to flip this, with the bride's side standing behind the groom and the groomsmen behind the bride so that the couple can look at their respective crews for emotional support during the wedding ceremony.

How Should the Wedding Party Line Up During the Ceremony?

The order in which the wedding party members line up at the altar is really up to the couple (no rules here!), and there are several different ways the VIPs can be arranged. Typically, the spot at the front of the line, closest to the couple, is considered a place of honor (and is reserved for the matron of honor, maid of honor, best man or other lead attendant), and the spot furthest away is thought of as "least important". However, standing at the altar in any location is the true honor and the wedding party shouldn't balk at their designated spot.

Here are a few wedding party line up options you can choose from:

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Option #1: Height

If you're a stickler for optics, this might be the best option for you because it always looks good. Major bonus points: You'll avoid any and all hurt feelings this way, since height's completely arbitrary. Simply line up your bridesmaids and groomsmen from shortest to tallest or tallest to shortest (up to you!) aside from your maid of honor and best man, who should stand next to the couple regardless.

Option #2: Relationship to the Couple

This one can be tricky (hence the quotation marks)—how do you rank your loved ones based on closeness? Aside from your maid of honor or best man—who may or may not be a family member—you could start with siblings and siblings-in-law, then rank cousins, best friends and whoever else in whatever interchangeable way makes you feel comfortable. But it's important to tread lightly with this one—you don't want anyone feeling hurt or slighted.

Option #3: How Long They've Known the Couple

Between siblings, childhood friends and college besties, it's likely you have wedding party members from every stage of your life. Simply arranging them by how long you've known them—with the shortest friendships on the end—is a fairly foolproof way to avoid hurt feelings.

Option #4: Attire Color

This is another way to avoid hurt feelings. If your bridal party is wearing mismatched attire, simply arrange your bridesmaids in a way that makes sense based on the color or prints of their outfits. You can stagger them if some are decked in print dresses and some are donning solid colors, or create an ombré effect if they're simply wearing different shades of the same hue.

Option #5: Age

Arranging from oldest to youngest is another good way to do it—since age is something that can't be negotiated. The oldest of the group can stand closest to the couple, and the baby of the group can go on the outer edge of the lineup.

Option #6: Who Cares? Mix It Up!

When it comes to the order of your bridesmaids, groomsmen and other wedding party members there really are no hard and fast rules, and you're encouraged to do things your own way. Maybe you'd prefer to line everyone up in alphabetical order by first or last name? Or maybe the wedding party members who traveled from the furthest distance to attend your wedding day stand the closest to you and your soon-to-be spouse? You also shouldn't be bound by the traditional "bride's side" and "groom's side"—if your wedding party includes people you and your partner both love, they can stand on any side. You can also ask your wedding planner or officiant for their own ideas on the wedding party line up—they may offer creative solutions you haven't already thought of.

How Does the Wedding Party Line Up Affect the Wedding Processional Order?

How the wedding party lines up typically correlates with the processional order. The traditional ceremony processional starts with the officiant, and then the couple's grandparents and parents walk in, followed by the groom (or one of the partners). The wedding party will then enter, with the people standing furthest from the couple entering first, and the people standing closest to the couple entering last. The wedding party members may pair up or walk down the aisle individually. Ring bearers and flower girls enter next, followed by the bride (or other partner), or the couple, if they prefer to enter together.

For the traditional wedding recessional, this process is reversed, with the couple exiting first, followed by the maid of honor, best man and/or other lead attendants, and then the rest of the wedding party members in pairs, in order of how close they were standing to the couple. Parents and grandparents of the couple exit next, followed by the officiant.

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