18 Oct 2016
How to Have a More Productive Wedding Rehearsal
This is a list of tips and hints that will help you make the most of your rehearsal time. These tips are my own opinion and based on real-life experiences from having performed hundreds of wedding ceremonies and rehearsals. I hope you find it useful.
Purpose of the wedding rehearsal
The purpose of the rehearsal is to give everyone involved in the wedding the opportunity to figure out all the tiny logistical details of entering, exiting, which way to face, handling the rings, handling the bouquet and any special rituals you are doing during the ceremony making things less confusing. Walking through all these minute details in advance will make your wedding ceremony run smoothly so you can have wedding day peace of mind.
When I coordinate a wedding rehearsal, we always go through the highlights of the ceremony a minimum of two times and as many times necessary for everyone to be comfortable with what they are supposed to be doing. The first time is always a mess – don’t worry about that. Each time gets better. Usually twice is enough.
Who should attend the wedding rehearsal – All members of the wedding party including bride, groom, best man, maid of honor, bridesmaids, groomsmen, ushers, flower girl, ring bearer, readers, mothers and fathers, including the person you assigned to assist with lining everyone up. Although not required; a representative for the musician(s) or DJ will also attend so cues and timing can be coordinated. Everyone should arrive on time because we will need to start on time.
Ten Helpful Tips
- Know in advance where any large decorative structures (wedding arch, ferns, pedestals, etc.) are going to be so we can figure out where we can and cannot stand and to avoid those areas.
- Have a few chairs set up to represent the front row, so we can judge the amount of space needed and also because we will practice seating the parents and grandparents.
- Many brides and bridesmaids bring mock bouquets made of paper plates and ribbon to the rehearsal. This is an excellent idea so everyone can get used to holding them. The bouquet should be held at belly button level. The bride may also want to have a mock veil or train if you are going to wear them in the ceremony.
- If there is going to be an aisle runner, decide ahead of time who will pull it out and at what point in the processional it will be done. Traditionally, it is done just prior to the bride’s entrance but I have seen it done many different ways including the entire wedding party walking on the runner. I don’t recommend using a runner outside, unless it is made of a very heavy fabric, because they become a tripping hazard.
- Decide how you want everyone lined up not just for the processional, but where they will stand once they come into the ceremony area. Decide if you want the groomsmen to come in all together in the beginning or paired up with bridesmaids. If they are to enter in pairs, decide in advance who will walk with whom. Decide who walks in with the bride, is the person going to say anything, will this person sit down immediately or stand for a few moments. This person needs to know what to do and what to say.
- Assigning people to do certain tasks for example: Who will hold the rings? (Please don’t put them on the ring pillow.) You will need to designate someone to do to do this. Assign someone to hold the bride’s bouquet during the ceremony. Someone to walk your moms in to be seated. Someone to bring the license to the officiant. Someone to set up the table for your special ritual, if applicable. Someone to assist with lining everyone up just prior to the ceremony.
- If you are going to have a special ritual during the ceremony, figure out where you want the table for this special rite and we will discuss how this will be set-up and how to accomplish your specific ritual. (sand ceremonies, candle lighting and other types of rituals.)
- The rehearsal time should be dedicated to rehearsing. So make sure everyone can be available. Ask them to come at least 30 minutes early, to ensure they arrive on time.
- Contact the officiant early enough so he/she can set aside the time to do so.
- If you choose not to have a rehearsal, use this list to coordinate things and inform your officiant of the choices you have made…it will make things go smoother on the day of your ceremony.
Finally one last note to the bride: Usually by the time you get to this point in your planning process, your friends and family have stopped listening to you. Consider someone else (ideally your officiant) that does not know your family. This way this person can step in and provide the leadership role to accomplish the task of completing and getting through the rehearsal.
Congratulations and Good Luck with your rehearsal