The wedding rehearsal can sometimes feel like a big “to do” and super stressful. But, it doesn’t have to be. A rehearsal is not a “practice ceremony” as some may think. It is simply a quick run-through to-do of the processional and recessional usually done one day prior to the wedding. This shouldn’t take longer than about 30 minutes. There is no rule that says you have to have a wedding rehearsal but if you ask me, I would argue that it's a MUST. Even if you walk through it twice, at least everyone kinda-sorta knows what they are doing which helps calm the nerves!
Below is a general guide that will ensure the rehearsal runs quickly and smoothly.
First, I suggest you start in the middle of the ceremony. This may sound a bit odd but hear me out. There is no sense practicing the “walk-in” if no one knows where they are going. So, put them in their places and go from there. Have everyone stand in their position, evenly spaced, at a slight angle facing toward the bride and groom. The bridesmaids should hold their bouquets with both hands and it should be decided beforehand whether the groomsmen will clasp their hands in front of them, or behind their backs.
Second, speak through all the ceremony headings. Always remain forward-facing toward the guests and your photographer. You don’t want to end up with a bunch of photos of your backside, so, keep this at the front of your mind.
If you will be lighting a candle or doing any other sort of rituals after your vows, now is the time to ensure that all the needed supplies are ready to go. Be sure that each person in the bridal party knows exactly what they are responsible for so there are no hiccups on the big day.
Third, practice the recessional (walking out).
Whether walking up or down the aisle it is common to leave about 15 – 20ft in between each guest and/or couple. This creates a nice aesthetic and leaves enough space for the photographer to capture each party as they proceed down the aisle.
Finally, practice the processional (walking in).
There are a couple of different processional orders that are commonly used in a wedding ceremony.
In most traditional wedding ceremonies if the officiant is not already standing at the top of the aisle when the ceremony begins he/she should be the first to enter.
Next should be the groom, the Best Man, and the rest of the groomsmen.
Following the groomsmen would be the grandparents, the groom’s parents, and the mother of the bride.
Finally, the bridesmaids enter followed by the Matron of Honor, the Flower Girl and the bride herself.
Another common processional order would be all the men entering as a group and then the women coming down the aisle individually - evenly spaced. In today’s day and age, I encourage you to do whatever feels most natural to you. Often times a mother, brother or grandfather will escort the bride down the aisle, or, a couple wants to include their fur babies, or children from previous relationships, in the ceremony. There is no right or wrong way to do this and it is a great way to make your ceremony unique to you and your family.
Once the bride reaches the alter, arbor, or whatever is at the top of the aisle, her escort will usually congratulate her with a kiss and/or hug and then shake the grooms hand before “giving her away”. This is also known as “the hand-off”. The bride should then hand her bouquet to her Maid of Honor and step up next to the groom. At this time if there are any adjustments needing to be made to the bride's train, the Maid of Honor should hand her bouquet to the closest bridesmaid and make the adjustments.
**Fun Fact: The term Maid of Honor is usually used for an unmarried woman. The term Matron of Honor is used for a married woman. **
Now that you’ve made it through both the processional and the recessional successfully, go through the process once more from start to finish; instead of middle to end. This will ensure that everyone has it down. J
Generally, your wedding coordinator will be present and ready to assist at the rehearsal if that's something included in your contract. Day of, he/she will be right by your side to cue each party at the appropriate time to start working their way down the aisle. :)
Hopefully, this guide will ease your mind and help you get through your rehearsal without any delays and YES! PLEASE PRACTICE!
Happy Planning, Lovers.