This list of tips and advice should help you make the most of your rehearsal time. They are based on real-life experiences from having performed wedding ceremonies and coordinated rehearsals. You are sure to find it useful.
The purpose of the wedding rehearsal – This gives you the opportunity to figure out all the tiny logistical details of entering, exiting, which way to face, handling the rings, handling the bouquet, etc. Having all these minute details rehearsed in advance will make your wedding ceremony run smoothly so you and your parents can be proud. When we coordinate a wedding rehearsal, we always go through the entire ceremony two times to be sure everyone is comfortable with what they are supposed to be doing. The first time is always a mess – don’t worry about that. It gets better each time.
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. Everyone should arrive on time because we will start on time.
#1 – Know in advance of the rehearsal where any large decorative structures (wedding arch, ferns, pedestals, etc.) are going to be so we can avoid the area.
#2 – 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 mothers.
#3 – 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 bride may also want to have a mock veil or train if you are going to wear them in the ceremony.
#4 – If there is going to be an aisle runner, decide ahead of time who will pull it out and at what point in the procession it will be done. Traditionally, it was done just prior to the bride’s entrance but recently it changed so that the entire wedding party walks on the runner. It’s your choice.
#5 – 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.
#6 – If you are going to have a unity candle, we will practice that with the actual candles that will be used in the ceremony. Each unity candle and their holders are configured slightly different, so it will be important to rehearse with the same one that will be used at your wedding. Notice, a unity candle is NOT recommended for outdoor weddings.
#7 – If you are having a rose presentation during your ceremony, we will rehearse that as well. Since this part of the ceremony may be a surprise for the recipients of the roses, plan on just the Bride and Groom remaining a few minutes after everyone else has left and we will rehearse that part separately.
#8 – Bring your marriage license to the officiant at the rehearsal. Traditionally, it is the Best Man that is responsible for remembering this detail.
#9 – Be prepared on the evening of the rehearsal to pay any vendors that are supposed to be paid prior to the wedding.
#10 – It may be convenient to meet with other wedding professionals such as caterers, photographers, decorators, florists, etc on the evening of the rehearsal. Arrange time to meet with each of them separately from the rehearsal time. The rehearsal time should be dedicated to rehearsing.