No matter where you plan to say, “I do,” an aisle runner makes the ceremony site look complete. Traditionally, ceremony ushers roll out the runner (which is secured near the altar) from altar to aisle entrance to signal the start of the processional. And if you’re a traditional bride getting married in a traditional church ceremony, this may be the path you choose.
But don’t think you need to stick to conventional customs when it comes to runners. With so many brides tying the knot in unconventional settings—in hotel lobbies, on lawns, in museums, on rooftops, etc.—practicality often trumps tradition in the area of runner setup.
For outdoor ceremonies, especially those on grass or sand, you might choose to create a “runner” out of rose petals, or paper or fabric confetti—any scattered material, really, that allows you to walk safely and comfortably without snagging a heel and risking a ripped runner, or worse, a stumble or fall.
If you prefer a more traditional look, you can secure your fabric runner to wood flooring, creating a kind of runner boardwalk that allows bride, groom and wedding party to proceed (and recede) without incident. You won’t be able to do the traditional pre-processional rollout, but you will get the benefits of special-occasion grandeur and everyday safety in equal measure.
If you are investing in a custom runner—we especially love ones by The Original Runner Co., which makes non-slip fabric runners in a variety of extraordinary designs from romantic and classic to ultra-hip—you probably want to get the most for your money. It’s perfectly acceptable to have the runner fully rolled out prior to guest arrival, so that guests may enjoy its elegance from the moment they arrive. Just make sure the center aisle is roped off or otherwise blocked (with a floral arrangement or other removable pretty thing) so that arriving guests don’t use the aisle for locating their seats, and risk marring its pristine loveliness with footprints before the processional.
And remember, your aisle runner need not follow the straight and narrow—plenty of local florists and decorators can create winding, zig-zagging, swirling or otherwise non-linear aisle adornment. As for color, you’re not bound to tradition there, either. Yes, once upon a time, when evil spirits were thought to lurk beneath the earth’s surface, a white aisle was laid out to keep these baddies at bay and protect the bride’s purity. But this is 2010, and these days any color goes: tangerine, tourmaline, evergreen…pick your palette, and off you go, on your way to happily ever after.