How to apply 'order_by' in WordPress query in the following example:

I have a query to get all posts with custom field for event dates greater or equal current date. I can have up to 10 event dates (event_date_0, event_date_1 etc) per post so I run a loop in meta query like:

$meta_query_array = array(
    'relation' => 'OR'

for($date_row = 0;$date_row < 10; $date_row++){
    $single_date_query = array(
        'key'       => 'event_date_'.$date_row,
        'value'     => date('Y-m-d'),
        'compare'   => '>=',
        'type'      => 'DATE'
    array_push($meta_query_array, $single_date_query);

$args = array(
    'post_type'         => array('events'),
    'posts_per_page'    => -1,
    'meta_query'        => $meta_query_array

$events = new WP_Query( $args )

That part works fine. I get all posts where at least 1 of 10 event dates is greater or equal current date.

Now I need to apply sorting (order by). I'd like to set order_by by another custom field "rating" DESC. And this is where I fail.

Simply added to $args, like:

$args = array(
    'post_type'         => array('events'),
    'posts_per_page'    => -1,
    'meta_query'        => $meta_query_array,
    'meta_key'          => 'rating',
    'orderby'           => 'meta_value_num',
    'order'             => 'DESC',

is not working. Not sure how to push it to meta query, if need be.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

1 Answer 1


As of WordPress 4.2, you can combine meta_query and orderby. The following example is taken from make.wordpress.org.

Example of a simple meta_query:

$q = new WP_Query( array(
    'meta_query' => array(
        'relation' => 'AND',
        'state_clause' => array(
            'key' => 'state',
            'value' => 'Wisconsin',
        'city_clause' => array(
            'key' => 'city',
            'compare' => 'EXISTS',
    'orderby' => 'city_clause',

The orderby parameter just includes the key of your meta_query. You could also set it to state_clause for a different ordering.

What's really cool is the possibility to combine different order clauses by passing an array to orderby:

'orderby' => array(
    'city_clause' => 'ASC',
    'state_clause' => 'DESC',

This would translate to a SQL query like

ORDER BY city_clause ASC, state_clause DESC

for more complex ordering types.

  • It all would work great if only I could have 'relation' => 'AND' - however, in my case I need to have 'OR' - So in SQL it would look sth. like: "SELECT * FROM events WHERE event_date_0 >= CURDATE() OR event_date_1 >= CURDATE() OR ... event_date_9 >= CURDATE() ORDER BY rating DESC
    – dkatwp
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 10:25

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