Wedding Q & A – When Are Aisle Runners Used in a Wedding?

Bride's processional with her father, entering wedding ceremony on a traditional white aisle runner
Photo credit: Childers Photography

Q. – When is an aisle runner used?

A. – The use of aisle runners at wedding ceremonies originated centuries ago.

The three main reasons for their use were:

1) Out of superstition – it provides a barrier between the bride and any evil spirits that may come up from below the ground

2) The bride was considered “royalty” and an aisle runner prevents her from having to walk directly on the ground

3) Cleanliness – since roads were unpaved and guests would track in dirt and mud an aisle runner kept the bride from dragging the hem of her gown and her train through the dirt

These days it is done out of tradition. When asked to imagine a bride walking down the aisle, most people imagine her walking on a white aisle runner.

bride and groom's wedding ceremony recessional, walking on traditional white aisle runner
Photo credit: Faye Sommer Photography

When is the aisle runner put in place?

A wedding aisle runner is most commonly put in place after the mothers of the bride and the groom have entered, and before the ceremony processional (when the bridal party enters).

Groomsmen putting traditional white wedding ceremony aisle runner in place
Photo credit: Shiloh Photography

It is secured at the front of the aisle with pins and tape so it can be easily unrolled, then, once completely unrolled, is secured at the back so it won’t roll back up which helps prevent anyone from tripping.

Sometimes couples prefer to have the aisle runner already in place before the start of the ceremony.

In this case, the center aisle is blocked with ribbon preventing guests from walking on the runner, and guests are seated from the outside aisles (not the center aisle). The ribbon is removed right before the moms are escorted in.

There are many options for aisle runner styles. The most common and economical are made from a durable heavy-weight plastic or rayon. You can find these in the wedding section of some craft stores or in a floral supply store. You can also get them from your florist.

You may also want to read: Alternatives to the White Aisle Runner

Aisle runners can also be personalized, with your names, monogram, or a romantic saying. They can even coordinate with your wedding colors or season.


Photo credit: Faye Sommer Photography

Be extra careful when using an aisle runner for an outdoor wedding ceremony. Since ground is rarely smooth and level (even the best manicured lawns will have some minor bumps and soft spots. May not be easily seen, but easy to find with your foot and potentially wobble, trip, or sprain an ankle).

For an outdoor ceremony, either omit the use of an aisle runner for safety’s sake, or choose one that is more durable such as a carpet runner (can be found in different colors and patterns), or heavy fabric such as burlap.

Make sure to get the length of the aisle before purchasing an aisle runner. They come in 25′ increments, starting at 25′ long and going up to 150′ or more.

Hearts, Joy, Love!
Jean

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Alternatives to the White Aisle Runner

Having a lovely white aisle runner for a wedding ceremony is a popular choice. The practice dates hundreds of years when brides were considered “royalty,” and as such were not expected to walk on the same ground at the “commoners.”

However, the traditional white aisle runner may not be your style.

Wedding Q & A – When Are Aisle Runners Used in a Wedding?

If you like the idea of an aisle runner, but don’t want white, there are other options. Many different colors, including pink, green, blue, gold, and silver are available, and are just about as affordable as the white ones. Or you can have one custom made with virtually any color, design or pattern you want, and can even be embellished with Swarovski crystals and ribbon borders.

But an aisle runner may not be your idea of ceremony décor, or your ceremony may take place outdoors where an aisle runner can be hazardous. There are still plenty of options to decorate your aisle if you wish.

  • Potted plants placed alongside the edge of the aisle
  • Pumpkins and gourds placed along the edge for a fall wedding
  • A thick bed or border of petals
  • Pine boughs or fake snow along the edge for a winter wedding
  • Fabric or ribbon swags on the pews or chairs along the aisle
  • Ivy garland swags on the pews or chairs along the aisle
  • Flowers or Floral pomanders
  • Small shepherds hooks with a lantern or candle holder
  • Seashells and sand along the edge for a beach theme