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The Wedding Recession: Creative Ideas & Advice for Your Wedding Ceremony Recessional

Published Monday, Jul. 3rd, 2023

Photo: sallyandscullycrafts / Pixabay

You’ve said your vows, sealed them with a kiss, and you’re ready to head out the door to celebrate your first day as an officially married couple. Your friends and family members leap from their seats and begin to cheer as you walk back down the aisle, arm in arm. 


As you step out into the sunshine and smile at each other, you can still hear the thundering ovation of love and support coming from inside…


What an incredible exit! 



Listen now: 

AMM Audio Articles · The Wedding Recession: Creative Ideas & Advice for Your Wedding Ceremony Recessional




What is a Wedding Recession? 


The ‘Wedding Recession’ marks the end of the wedding ceremony, in which the happy newlyweds (that’s soon to be you!) make their exit from the altar and leave the ceremonial space in style. It comes after The Pronouncement and is called a ‘recession’ because you and your guests will ‘recede’ from the room. (Sometimes called a ‘Wedding Recessional.’)


During a traditional wedding recession, the couple and their wedding party leave the ceremony by walking back down the aisle in a specific order, called the ‘recessional order.’ This is usually the reverse of the processional order. In the example above, the couple hold hands as they walk out down the aisle together, cheered along by their friends and family. If there are wedding attendants standing at the altar, they’ll probably exit next, followed by the guests. The Wedding Officiant will leave last. 


But that’s just one example! There are many creative ways for newlyweds to leave the altar, and you can even design your own recession to end your wedding ceremony just the way you want. 


Following the wedding recession, the couple meets with the Officiant (and any required witnesses) to sign the marriage license before heading off to whatever comes next – often a reception or party. The transition between the ceremony and the reception is sometimes called the "Wedding Exit" or send-off. 



A bride and groom hold up their hands in excitement as they leave their wedding ceremony, photo is taken from behind them, they face bright green leaves and lush trees




Choose the Perfect Wedding Recession for Your Ceremony 


Some couples prefer a traditional recession and recessional order, while other couples want a modern wedding exit that will leave guests with a unique memory of the day. 


To decide on the recession that’s right for you, consider important factors like the size of your wedding venue, whether the ceremony will be held indoors or outdoors, the weather and terrain, and how many people will be in your wedding party and attending as guests. 


Choose a recession that will symbolize something special about you as a couple and the future ahead – such as your dedication to family, your sense of humor, your love of adventure, or a shared commitment to your faith. 


Make this part of your ceremony just as meaningful as your entrance, vow exchange, or unity ceremony by getting creative! 



A few popular options for your wedding recession: 


1. Dance down the aisle to a ‘Recessional Song’ 


Choose a favorite song to dance down the aisle to as newlyweds! This option gives your guests a glimpse into the fun you two have together as a couple, creates some great photo opportunities, and ends the ceremony on a festive and romantic note. Choose a recessional song that fits the mood of your ceremony and symbolizes the future that awaits you as a married couple.


If you’re blessed with talented friends, you might even ask a few of them to serenade you. Imagine leaving the altar accompanied by a choir of loved ones! 


Related: Give Your Wedding a 1960s Pop Infusion with These 10 Songs & Lyrics



2. Sweet Flower Petals or Bubbles Send-Off


Give your guests a small container of bubbles or a packet of flower petals as they arrive at your wedding ceremony. Be sure to choose the option that’s best for your venue, for example bubbles will work best outdoors where there’s plenty of fresh air.


Then, after the Officiant pronounces you married, you’ll make your way down the aisle while guests toss them in your path, showering you with love for an unforgettable recessional walk!


Make this idea your own: You might substitute tiny inflatable beach balls in place of flower petals at a beach wedding; or oak or maple leaves at a forest wedding. Get creative! 



3. Keep it Traditional 


A traditional recession and recessional order is similar to the opening example above and is usually the reverse of the processional order. The newlyweds hold hands (or link arms) and walk down the aisle together, followed by their wedding attendants (bridesmaids, groomsmen, people of honor), their VIP guests (parents, elders, or siblings), the rest of their wedding guests, and finally, the Wedding Officiant. 


Related: Wedding Processional Order: Traditional & Modern Examples for Your Ceremony


Couples who have young children might carry them down the aisle in their arms as they make their exit, and older children might walk arm in arm or follow their newly-married parents down the aisle. This is a popular choice for blended families, as a meaningful way to include children in the wedding recession. 



Friends and family hold up cellphones to capture images of the newlyweds kissing at a wedding ceremony, and other guests blow bubbles in celebration. The air is filled with bubbles, and the couple kiss in the distance in the aisle

Photo: Kïm Ałlexiś Ďiwä / Unsplash

Guests blow bubbles following the couple's first kiss as newlyweds, right before they make their way back down the aisle at the end of the ceremony! 


Include Your Wedding Officiant 


Once you’ve decided on an idea, make sure you discuss your ‘exit strategy’ with your Wedding Officiant to bring it to life. This is so important! 


Your Wedding Officiant will help make this final piece of the ceremony ‘flow’ well, by writing an ending to the wedding script that supports your creative vision and lets guests know how they can participate.


Don’t have a Wedding Officiant yet? Ask a friend or relative to get ordained online to officiate your ceremony! Loved ones make incredible officiants and bring a personal touch to the role. 





Read Next: 






Young newlyweds hug on the beach following their wedding, smiling at the camera

“By the power vested in me…” Creative alternatives for the wedding pronouncement. Read the full article here. 



Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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