Being that a double wedding is increasingly uncommon, a lot of the ancient traditions and expectations regarding who goes first, who does what, and the recipe for the entire production have faded into obscurity.
Neither of the brides envisioned themselves planning a "typical" wedding with all the traditions in order... in the brides' words: boring and predictable. In ancient territory where the vast majority of charts are lost in the open sea of time we are now free to truly create a unique celebration that reflects our personalities and the relationships the four of us have together.
Here are a couple of articles on double wedding etiquette untangled from the World Wide Web which we found helpful.
Who is going first?
Neither went first down the aisle and even our attendants did not exactly have an order of first and second. Besides the fact that we decided to have a double wedding in the first place, we wished to reiterate to our guests the kind of restored and gracious relationship we sisters have and wish to maintain as well as portray to our family and friends. One couple from Elizabeth's party went first, then one couple from Katherine's, then the next couple from Elizabeth's party, etc. We decided the order of which party entered the sanctuary first by a virtual toss of the coin. For the remainder of the ceremony and the reception the decision on which couple goes first, where that is required, was not consistent and depended on technical and artistic tastes. However, age (Elizabeth is the senior) determined which candle was lit by the mothers first, and length of time engaged (Katherine has been engaged longer) determined that she and Dave would say their wedding vows and be "pronounced" first.
Guests at our wedding saw two concurrent, not sequential, weddings for the most part. Only in certain significant places did each couple take turns (i.e. to say their vows). Even more variation came during the reception when one bride decided to maintain a tradition and the other decided not.
Wow, you two shared decisions in everything? Was that hard?
Yes, very hard. But at the same time it was much easier than we expected. Our original plans did not include another bride at the altar but timing, technical difficulties, and of course, finances, demanded that we at least consider a double-wedding. I'm sure that if we had vastly different artistic and technical tastes we would have never considered it but, honestly, we already agree with a lot of things. We also made a list of important things to us, semi-important things, and entirely unimportant and compared notes. We made the decision to begin planning a double wedding when we determined that our most important things had no overlap! Some of Elizabeth's important things were having certain pieces of music for the ceremony, which piece of music to use for the Lindy Hop showcase, the husband-wife first dance music, and NOT cutting the cake (which she eventually got suckered into doing). Katherine's most important things included the piece of music for the father-daughter dance, which palate of colors to use for the theme, and having certain children for her flowergirl and ringbearers. We agreed at the outset that the other details we would either work out together or in the case of details we didn't care about in the least (e.g. technicalities of reception decoration. yuk! Thanks again Mrs. Feldmann!) we would ask others to take care of.
Even after we decided on the big stuff we still had to figure out the little stuff. We want to emphasize to anyone considering a double wedding that it is not twice has hard a planning a single wedding, it's closer to four times harder. Why? Because you have four families to consider when making plans and as much as people say "the wedding is about the bride" that just is not practical or true in real life. Besides, the fact that every decision must come to a consensus and communicated between the brides and any planners just compounds the already difficult planning process. If anyone reading this article is considering a double wedding, please take that into account. Both of the brides must be 100% involved in the daily planning and communication or it won't go well. Both of the brides must agree to occasionally disagree and work out any differences in opinion.
Yes, there were some bumps and bruises along the planning road but the wedding was positively perfect and any miscommunications were forgiven. We have a lot of unique memories, as do our guests, and we ended up married to the right people (an inside joke), so it was worth it!