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Home : The Top 7 Most Frequently Asked Aisle Runner Questions
The Top 7 Most Frequently Asked Aisle Runner Questions
By: Cathy Ward
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|There comes a point in the planning of every wedding when the big issues have been decided: The cake has been ordered, the bridesmaids have relented on their dresses, the groom has been chosen. The little details, though, can continue to haunt you right up to your wedding day. Should the mini bubble bottles be tied with pink ribbons? Should there be crayons for the kids? Should you use an aisle runner?|
It's such a simple concept -- a decorative carpet you unroll for the ceremony -- but therein lurks a host of troubling questions that may not even occur to you until your wedding day, when the last thing you have time to do is worry. It's always better to deal with potential problems now while there's still time, and that's why we've created a list of the seven most common aisle runner questions. Consider this a preemptive strike against disaster.
Do I really need an aisle runner?
Many brides choose to use one, but it's not necessary. Historically, they evolved from a practical need to keep the bride's dress clean as guests tended to track dirt and mud into the church from unpaved roads.
On the paranormal side of the spectrum, aisle runners also served as protection from evil spirits, which were believed to live beneath the surface of the earth. Yes, it was once thought these spirits could rise up through the floorboards, possess the bride, and steal her purity. The fabric, some more superstitious folk believed, trapped these vicious specters under the floor -- apparently those same spirits never bothered the bride-to-be while she was at home, we guess.
Two Become One Aisle Runner
Experience this beautiful sentiment with each step as you begin your ceremony!
While today's bride may not be concerned about muddy floors (thanks, concrete sidewalks) or evil ghosts (thanks, Pac-Man), an aisle runner does add a regal atmosphere to the ceremony and is a staple of many modern weddings. But, if you are planning an outdoor ceremony or just want a simple wedding, your guests won't question its absence.|
When do I unroll my aisle runner?
The etiquette is flexible: The timing for laying out your aisle runner depends on the type you have. If you've chosen something colorful or elaborately fancy, you should set it up on the aisle after the rest of the decorating has been completed, but before the guests arrive. Ushers should be directed to seat guests from the sides of the aisles rather than the center to avoid unnecessary traffic on the runner. If possible, consider roping off the center aisle with ribbons.
But, if you are using a plain, single-colored aisle runner as an added flourish and don't intend for it to be a focal point of your decorating, tape one end to the floor near the altar, but leave it rolled up. After the guests have been seated and the mother of the bride has taken her place, have two groomsmen unroll it. This can serve as a nice visual cue to your guests that the ceremony is about to begin.
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What are some common aisle runner "don'ts?"
Don't let it interrupt the flow of your processional.
First, you'll want to be careful that unrolling your aisle runner doesn't create an unnecessary stopping point in your ceremony. How? Well, some couples try to build anticipation for the bride's entrance by waiting for the rest of the processional to pass before unrolling the runner. It's a nice sentiment, but unless the timing's perfect it can create an awkward lull. Use this method with caution.
Don't forget to firmly tape it to down.
Remember, the only thing holding your aisle runner in place is friction; neglecting to tape it down will create a substantial tripping hazard. To avoid this (and lines of duct tape down the sides), use special double-sided tape -- ask your wedding planner or your florist, chances are they'll have some.
Don't wear spiked heels.
We get it. You love heels. We love heels, too. Your aisle runner, however, does not love heels. The wrong combination of material and heels can result in punctures that might cause you and your bridesmaids' shoes to become entangled with the fabric. You don't need us to tell you what that could look like.
In the past, aisle runners were typically made of cloth, which is still ideal for its durability. Cloth, however, can be cost prohibitive, which has led to the rise of rayon as a reliable alternative. Rayon's tear-resistant qualities make it an excellent fabric, but even this won't completely prevent a mishap. Any material will tear in the wrong circumstances, and even heavy cloth can bunch up and snag.
For your safety and the safety of your bridal party, consider wearing wide-based heels or slippers.
Don't use it on the wrong type of surface.
The floor surface is also important. For outdoor weddings on the grass, a solid surface such as plywood should be positioned underneath to prevent tears in the fabric. For indoor weddings, linoleum or hardwood floors can be especially dangerous because the fabric can slip and slide. For those surfaces, use a cloth or non-slip runner.
Don't step before you look.
In addition to being wary of your heels, your material, and the surface of your floor, there is one more precaution you and your procession can take before venturing down the aisle: look before you step. Simply being aware of where the aisle runner is in relation to your feet can do a world of good when it comes to making it safely to the altar.
How do I determine the right length?
This is actually a really good question even though it seems like the answer should be self-explanatory -- your aisle runner should be as long as the aisle, right? No, this is wrong. It should, in fact, be longer than the length of the aisle.
For example, aisle runners typically come in lengths of 25 feet. If yours is fifty feet long, you should jump a size and get one that's 75 feet long. The extra material weighs it down and helps keep it in place. It also helps prevent the trailing edge from "curling" back down the aisle.
However, if you've got too much leftover material ending up in a place where members of the bridal party or even guests could trip over it, cut it to length and thoroughly tape the edge down. Just be extra careful it doesn't get caught on a dress or shoes and get dragged along with you. If your dress has a train, have an usher lift it over the edge as you start down the aisle.
The most important thing to remember is that every venue, and every surface, is unique. Do lots of measuring and question the venue staff about every aspect of the floor well in advance of the big day.
What is the right order for the people in my processional?
Another deceptively simple question. The wedding processional order can vary by location, culture, and even personal preference. In England, for instance, the bride usually leads the bridesmaids, but in America the bridesmaids lead the bride. In some other European countries the bride and the groom walk down the aisle together, escorted by their families. Some couples include clergy, pipers, bands, even their dogs.
In a "typical" traditional American processional, the groom and best man usually wait at the altar. Groomsmen or ushers escort both sets of grandparents and mothers to their seats, and then escort the bridesmaids. The bridesmaid who will stand the farthest from the bride should walk down the aisle first. The maid of honor follows the bridesmaids and often walks alone, although the best man can escort her. The ring bearer walks next and is followed by the flower girl. The bride goes last with her father or another escort.
To see a full breakdown of wedding processions by denomination, and for tips on dealing with etiquette and common issues, read our complete Wedding Processional Guide!
What do I do with it after the ceremony?
After the ceremony, have one or two groomsmen roll it up and set it aside. This will ensure that none of your guests trip over it, especially if they happen to be wearing high heels. You're then free to discard it or keep it as a reminder of your wedding day.
Some couples even choose to recycle their aisle runner in creative ways, such as using it as a table covering at picnics or to keep frost off their gardens!
Congratulations! You are now an aisle runner expert.
Well, there you have it. That's all the basics you need to ensure a gorgeous, accident-free opening to your ceremony! You are now free to go back to worrying about any of those other countless pre-wedding concerns, like whether you're going to do the old "something blue" tradition, what color programs to buy, or if you want to trade in the groom for a different model. Good luck!