What is a Wedding Aisle Runner?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

A wedding aisle runner is a long strip of cloth or sometimes plastic or vinyl that may have multiple purposes at a wedding. Runners were used long ago to protect elaborate dresses from dirt. Today, brides may have the same purpose in mind when they choose a wedding aisle runner, they might want to add additional decoration to aisles or stairs, or they may want to fulfill both purposes simultaneously.

A wedding aisle runner may protect a wedding dress from dirt.
A wedding aisle runner may protect a wedding dress from dirt.

Typical places in which a wedding aisle runner might be used include things like the steps of the church, or on the aisle between seats. Especially when weddings occur outside, wedding runners can prove excellent for protecting dresses. Wedding planners usually advise that brides choose sturdier fabrics for runners when they have outdoor weddings.

A wedding aisle runner may be acquired for busy wedding venues like churches.
A wedding aisle runner may be acquired for busy wedding venues like churches.

Though many brides can choose white or ivory runners, there is really no limit as to color choices. People can order elaborate decorations of the runner, including things like the couple’s name, and they can custom order sizes if needed. Fabric choices can be adapted for many different décor themes, and include very expensive materials like silk or lace.

Many people purchase their wedding aisle runners, but some people also rent them. When rented, it usually isn’t possible to customize them. Another thing to consider when determining whether to rent or purchase is the possibility of fines or replacement fees for rented runners. Since it’s likely that many people will be stepping on the wedding aisle runner, they can get damaged, particularly if they’re made of delicate fabrics. Some rental companies do charge fines or replacement fees, though this can vary.

When the wedding takes place somewhere other than the reception location, it’s important to make sure that someone can roll up and safely store the wedding aisle runner. In busy wedding locations, some churches and outdoor wedding facilities have multiple weddings on the same day, so the runner should be removed right after the ceremony to prevent it from getting lost. A wedding planner may have this as part of her job but when planners aren’t used, the task should be assigned to a bridesmaid, family member or trusted friend.

Not every bride chooses to have a wedding aisle runner. They can be in the best interest of protecting a dress or shoes from dirt in outdoor locations, but indoor locations certainly don’t require them. Of course, some aisles are not in the best possible shape. A beautiful wedding aisle runner can quickly cover any spots or dirt on an aisle, which might detract from a bride’s beauty or the otherwise charming nature of the location.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


I'm planning my wedding and need outdoor wedding aisle runner ideas. My fiance wants to put down sod or bark chips for the aisle, but I think that's too unsteady. I'm open to any and all suggestions.


My family has an heirloom cloth wedding aisle runner that was first used in my grandparents wedding in 1929. My parents, three aunts and uncles, cousins, myself, and my daughter, have all used the same runner. It's become a symbol of a long, and happy marriage in our family.


When we planned our wedding, my husband and I were on a strict budget. We didn't even want an aisle runner, but the church insisted we have one.

We ended up letting the florist lay a disposable wedding theme runner, that was cheap. And we got what we paid for.

The fabric was similar to a used dryer sheet and kept catching on the heels of the guests' shoes. One of the bride's maids actually got so caught on it, she had to stop, bend down, and pull the fabric from her shoe.

I don't recommend spending a fortune on an aisle runner, unless you want to, but it's worth spending a few extra dollars to make sure it can be walked on safely.

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