For most average American weddings that include a wedding party of more than just the bride and the groom, a wedding rehearsal is necessary. Yes, they can seem like a cumbersome waste of time to some of us who have been in a lot of weddings but, they are requisite for a wedding ceremony to run smoothly. I have been to horrible rehearsals where the groomsmen arrived drunk, the divorced parents of the groom had a huge fight and one where the maid of honor was stuck at work and missed the rehearsal! You want to do everything you can to avoid the pitfalls and have your wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner run smoothly. This sets the tone for the wedding day.
Planning the Wedding Rehearsal
- Check with the wedding party and key family members about work schedules on the day before the wedding. This will help in scheduling the rehearsal. Work these times around the times that the venue is available for the rehearsal.
- Send invitations to those you want/need at your rehearsal at least 4 weeks in advance,
- Hold the rehearsal in the ceremony space if at all possible. Sometimes this is not a possibility and if that is the case be prepared with photos and diagrams so that the wedding party understands where they will be.
- Have the rehearsal before the dinner. No one eats (or drinks) until the rehearsal is completed. This helps to guarantee attendance to the rehearsal.
- Have a coordinator who is in charge of the rehearsal, and the ceremony on the wedding day. Some churches supply this person as a part of the rental fee, often this is the pastor’s wife. It can also be a friend or family member who is not involved in the wedding party. Lastly, it could be the wedding coordinator who you hired to help you plan your wedding. It should never be a parent of the bride or groom or someone in the wedding party. Make sure the coordinator knows exactly what the bride, groom and officiant want/need for the ceremony. Meet with the couple and their families at least a week before the rehearsal to map out exactly what needs to happen when.
The Wedding Rehearsal
- Start on time-Coordinator asks everyone to have a seat. Coordinator introduces themself and the officiant to the crowd.
- Officiant prays over the rehearsal.
- Coordinators speech. This sets the tone for the rehearsal. Remind everyone that they are there in love and support of the couple. This is not the time for petty arguments or comments about the way the ceremony is planned. The planning is done it is time to execute the plans that have been made. Remind them to pay attention and listen carefully so that extra run-throughs are not required.
- Review how the rehearsal will run-out of order. Recessional, Processional, Ceremony.
- Show the girls how to hold their flowers and remind everyone not to lock their knees.
- Place the wedding party on stage, where they will be for the end of the ceremony. Discuss how they will process out, what their cues are etc. Rehearse the recessional at least 2 times with the music, starting with the officiant’s announcement of the couple.
- Line everyone up wherever they will be starting from. Typical line is grandparents of the groom, grandparents of the bride, parents of the groom, mother of the bride, bridesmaids, maid of honor, ring bearer, flower girls, bride with her father. Play the music and rehearse the timing of sending people in 2-3 times as needed until everything times out properly.
- Rehearse the ceremony up to where the father gives away the bride. This is where we did something different! We sent all of the guests, parents and other family members to the rehearsal dinner site so that only the bride, groom, wedding party, officiant, parents of the children in the wedding party and the coordinator were left. This way the unique parts of the ceremony were a delightful surprise to everyone on the wedding day.
- Run through the rest of the ceremony 1-2 times.
- Run through the recessional once more for good measure.
- Everyone then heads to the rehearsal dinner.
Aaron and Summer’s wedding rehearsal lasted about 90 minutes. It went smoothly and Kim, our coordinator did a great job of keeping everything moving and answering questions along the way.
Have you been a part of a smooth or bumpy wedding rehearsal? Share your story in the comments.