Everything You Need to Know About Your Wedding Rehearsal

The big day is coming and now it’s time to rehearse! You may be feeling opposite emotions of the same coin: excitement and anxiety about this amazing day and huge commitment you’ve been making plans now for probably close to a year.  We’re here to tell you, 1. They’re normal, you’re normal! And, 2. We’ve got you well taken care of, so breathe in and breathe out, do some yoga and drink some wine, we’ll be taking care of you at rehearsal time.

Curious what to expect during your rehearsal?

Here’s a play by play on what to expect when it comes to your wedding rehearsal:

Custock Photography

Who Should Be There?

We get asked this all the time and it’s a great question!  Aside from your wedding planner and your officiant, basically, those people that are your VIP’s.  Who are your VIP’s? They mostly include your parents and your wedding party. And anyone else who has a key part or moving part in your actual wedding ceremony.  Do you have someone ready a special poem? They should be there. Do you have a ring bearer and flower girl? They should be there! Are your grandparents being escorted down the aisle?  They should be there (actually, these are VIP’s that we’re okay with missing if it would be too taxing on them).  

When Should We Schedule Our Rehearsal For?

There are several factors at play here. Ideally, your rehearsal will take place at your venue.  This is always the preferred option. It’s preferred because your VIP’s can get familiar with the space before all the excitement and hustle and bustle of the actual wedding day.  Usually, the rehearsals are scheduled for the Thursday or Friday before your wedding. It’s important to note that many venues will be hosting weddings Thursday through Sunday from noon on so it’s typical for them to only be available before noon those days.  But, that’s not always the case. 

The tricky part is coordinating this date between the venue, your wedding planner and officiant, and your wedding VIP’s.  

We suggest finding the date that works with the most persons and going with that.  Do factor in that your vendor professionals may be booked already if you don’t consult with them first! 

Note:  Best practice for your wedding parties is to politely request them be flexible from Thursday on for your wedding weekend. 

What if ____________ Can’t Make It?

We know it’s a bummer when one of your bridesmaids or groomsmen can’t make it for the rehearsal. Many times they can’t that day off work OR they had already booked their flight for the day after.  

Not to fear, when that is the case, we like to rehearse with either a ‘ghost’ bridesmaid or groomsmen, leaving a space for them, or we ask an extra guest to be their stand in.  We do ask for the wedding party standing next to them to keep note for the missing attendant and then help us fill them in day-of. If there’s a large number of VIPS missing, we’ll make note to connect with them day-of and run them through the essentials before guests arrive, if possible. 

Jamie English Photo

What Happens During the Wedding Rehearsal:

We ask for everyone to arrive about 10 minutes early.  That means, please tell your guests to be there 10 minutes early.  While we’ve certainly experienced our handful of late wedding party VIPs to rehearsals, please don’t be.  It’s unkind to everyone else who has carved out time from their loved ones and work. True Story:  We once had a rehearsal set where of the 12 people needed, only three were on time.  Slowly, they all came straggling in. All except the bride. She was 45 minutes late.  Putting on makeup in her car. We gave them a 15 minute rehearsal (maybe a little bit longer so everyone got it).  Please don’t be like them. 

From there, your officiant and wedding planner will likely work together to run the rehearsal as smoothly as possible.  Typically, your rehearsal looks like this:

  1. Welcome 
  2. Staging Where Standing/Sitting During Ceremony
  3. Recessional: Practice walking out
  4. Processional: Practice walking in
  5. Ceremony Highlights:  Your officiant will review the key elements of the wedding ceremony.  
  6. Recessional: Practice walking out 
  7. Processional: Practice walking in
  8. Review Key Times for Tomorrow: Make sure everyone knows when and where to be on wedding day!

Rehearsals typically only last an hour. It is a chance for family to know their role if they are in the wedding and if not, know where they sit. Here are a few things you should be going over in your rehearsal:

  1. The Recessional
  2. The Processional
  3.  The hand-off (If the bride is being escorted down the aisle, how will the escort hand her off to the groom?)
  4. The officiant speaking (This can be just the headings or a summary)
  5. Any special ceremonies

After the rehearsal, enjoy your dinner with your closest friends and family! Stay tuned for more on the rehearsal dinner. 

Other Items to Highlight:

Below are a few other areas that we feel are important to touch base on

Music:  We’ve run many rehearsals without music and many with.  When working with professionals, they know how to either loop the music around, or repeat verses or choruses so there is plenty of music for everyone walking in. 

The Giving Away or Giving of Self:  We always like to make sure this part is rehearsed (and usually a few times) so it is done gracefully.

The Rings: Be sure to note who will be hold them and to ‘practice’ putting them on. 

Wedding Party: Be sure to remind the wedding party what to do with their hands and the best practices on where and how to stand. There is a bit of a science to this! 😉 

Ceremony Special Music or Readings:  Do you have a special song or reading?  Have those performing practice walking up and sitting down during the rehearsal. 

Marriage License:  Review at the rehearsal who is going to have it day-of, who will be signing it and when it will be signed

After the Ceremony:  Decide during your rehearsal where everyone will be walking out to.  Day-of, if this is not determined it can make for a very chaotic transition from just being married to taking all your cocktail hour photos. 

Hopefully this isn’t brain overload for you!  But don’t worry, you’ve hired a wedding planner so all you have to do day-of is show up, enjoy family and wedding party,  and she’ll direct you from there!

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