Every now and then we come across a couple who doesn’t think they need a rehearsal for their wedding ceremony.
Maybe it’s because they’ve been in several friends’ weddings as bridesmaids or groomsmen, they think they can skip a rehearsal for their ceremony. They are convinced that everyone can just show up on the big day and everything will go fine.
If you are considering skipping a rehearsal think of it this way – you are about to produce, direct and star in a major production. No Broadway show (no matter how professional the actors) goes live without weeks of rehearsal.
Your wedding ceremony should not either. Ok, your ceremony doesn’t need weeks of rehearsal, but it does need a rehearsal.
Of course there are always exceptions to the rule. If you are having a very simple ceremony, (with no attendants, no readers, no aisle runner), and a small guest list (25 – 50 people), then you probably can get away without doing a rehearsal.
But for everyone else, do a rehearsal! This will ensure that all participants are familiar and comfortable with their roles. And since they all know what they are supposed to be doing, things will go smoothly on the wedding day.
Who Should Be at the Rehearsal?
• The bride and groom (obviously!)
• The wedding party
• Parents of the happy couple
• Parents of the flower girl and ring bearer
• Everyone else directly involved in the ceremony – this includes ushers, readers, and vocalists
If they have an active part in your ceremony, they need to be at the rehearsal so there’s no confusion, and they’ll know when and how they are to go about with their part.
Other Rehearsal Details to be Covered Include:
• Who will sit in the first pew/row and in any reserved sections
• Who will roll out the aisle runner (and when)
• Who will escort in the mother of the groom and the mother of the bride (and if they will be lighting a unity candle)
• Where readers are to sit, and when they are to rise and stand to do their reading
• When candle lighters are to light the candles
• Any additions to the ceremony such as a sand ceremony or unity candle
What to Practice During the Rehearsal?
I often say the rehearsal lets everyone know how to get from Point A to Point B (then back again), and what to do in-between.
Your rehearsal should include:
• Seating of the mother of the groom and mother of the bride
• The Processional
• When and where for the wedding party to stand/sit during the ceremony
• Unity Candle/Sand Ceremony/Etc.
• The Recessional
At one time brides chose a stand in for the rehearsal thinking it was unlucky for her to actually say any of the words of the ceremony before the actual event. Today, some officiants prefer not to rehearse the entire ceremony, but instead practice only the entrance (processional), exit (recessional), and just do a brief walk through the sequence of events and vows. Check with your officiant ahead of time so you’ll know what to expect for your rehearsal.
Don’t worry, the officiant will cue the couple and wedding party during the actual ceremony, so no one has to be concerned about memorizing anything and remembering what needs to be done when.
What NOT to Do At Your Rehearsal
Don’t practice for hours – The main idea of the rehearsal is for participants to know how to get from Point A to Point B (how to enter), where to stand, then how to exit. There is no need to practice this over and over.
Don’t try to be the one in charge and run the rehearsal yourself – Your officiant and wedding planner have done this before, and have been closely working with you for your wedding. They know how you want things to be. Let them take care of the rehearsal. Remember, you won’t have time to be “in charge” on the wedding day, as you will be busy just by being the bride (or groom).
Don’t plan on a processional that will last longer than the ceremony itself – This is a sure fire way to turn something into a production, and to take away from the meaning and sanctity of what is about to occur (your wedding ceremony).
Don’t make any major additions or changes to your ceremony – By the time of your rehearsal, all decisions should be made. The rehearsal is a time to practice what has been planned for, with maybe a few minor tweaks.
Photo credit (wedding party with bride and groom): Weddings From The Heart
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