Wedding Planning 101

Running a Wedding Rehearsal

  1. […] day generally ends by 9pm, depending on the day of the week and whether I have meetings, wedding rehearsals, or events. I take Monday off of work every week for much-needed family time with my twins and […]

  2. […] hours – attending and managing the wedding rehearsal (including travel […]

  3. Terri Mabe says:

    What is the average fee to charge for directing a wedding-not a wedding planner fee?

  4. […] Be prepared and attend the ceremony rehearsal. This is usually the day prior to the wedding. Make sure you know how the bridal party will line up and walk down the aisle, who will escort the parents and when the music changes so that you can cue the musicians on the wedding day.  I include all these details in my timeline (with first names of everyone involved) and also create a diagram so I can glance at the layout and easily direct the bridal party during the rehearsal. […]

  5. Joy S. says:

    This weekend, I ended up getting asked to coordinate my first wedding about 20 minutes before the rehearsal was supposed to start! I have experience with event coordination, but honestly had no idea what the role of a wedding coordinator was before stepping into that. Fortunately, I was able to figure it out (or just act confident when I didn’t know and people seemed satisfied) and and had some great help along the way and ended up discovering I enjoy and could definitely do wedding coordination in the future. I wish I had seen this post before that un-expected wedding, as it was so helpful!

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Joy!

      • Suzanne says:

        These are the best tips ever for making a wedding all it can and should be!! So thank you so much! I’ve taken tons of notes to help my bride! Another thing to add…Sometimes the officiant needs to be told where to stand during portions of the wedding. I just viewed a wedding where it was horrible that the officiant ended up blocking the groom from the audience during the ring vows/exchange ;( It was very obvious that he was so uncomfortable…that will forever be in their pictures. They may not even remember his name, but he will be in all their pictures during one of the most important times of their ceremony…yikes! Please remember to tell the officiant where to stand during important things like vows, unity ceremonies, ring vows/exchange and any other special/custom moments in the ceremony. The officiant is to marry them never to be the center of attention. Poor guy and poor pictures. No one has a good one of that moment… Also, one other note that I didn’t read here was that it is important that all the bridal party keep their focus/eyes on the bride and groom at all times during the ceremony. It should be like the bride and groom is the metal and the bridal party is the magnet…LOL! Bridal parties with wandering minds, and therefore eyes, make people in the audience wonder what they are looking at and it will definitely distract from the ceremony….Bridal parties with their attention on the bride and groom will help redirect the attention of a “wandering” audience as well. We want everyone to “wonder” at the bride and groom not “wander” around the room! HA! Thanks for listening and thanks for these outstanding tips everyone!

        • Thanks for sharing your helpful tips Suzanne!

          • Suzanne says:

            One more thing Debbie…I forgot to mention that the rehearsal director should warn all of the bridal party to stand with knees slightly bent during the ceremony to help with blood flow in the body. Many a “locked knee” bridesmaid or groomsman have fallen prey to the dreaded faint and crash debacle!! Don’t believe it…plenty of youtube videos to prove it. This warning can save the day 😉

          • Great addition Suzanne. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Melinda says:

    I am an experienced event planner, but taking on my first wedding this weekend. Thank you so very much for all this detailed information! I found it to be so very helpful.

  7. Christine says:

    Good post (and yes, not the most enjoyable part to plan, everyone just wants to get to the dinner and drink)!

    I always be sure to check with the Bride, if whether or not she’ll be wearing her veil over her face, to be sure we rehearse that too.

  8. […] Run the ceremony rehearsal the day prior to the wedding […]

  9. Beverly says:

    Need to know the hourly rate to director of a rehearsal and wedding
    Also how many hours for each one
    And if they go over the set hours
    How much after that
    also if the check bounce how do I write that into a contract with the client to cover me

  10. Seating placement is also important. Decide before the rehearsal who will sit where.
    This is especially important with divorced parents who do not want to sit together.
    At the beginning of the rehearsal – asking parents and grandparents (if present) to find their seats helps.
    If the ceremony is outside – chairs may not be present at the rehearsal, so you have to pretend.
    Fun, fun, fun.

  11. Many more things to decide BEFORE the rehearsal is who will escort the women who are grandmothers, mothers and other important people worthy of the processional. Ushers are not always present these days. Order of this part of the processional goes as follows:

    Groom’s Paternal Grandparents, Groom’s Maternal Grandparents
    Bride’s Paternal Grandparents, Bride’s Maternal Grandparents
    Mother of the Groom with Usher with Father of the Groom Following, or just the Groom’s Parents
    Mother of the Bride with Usher or Mother of the Bride with Father of the Bride who then walks back down to escort Bride.

    Of course, this gets more complicated if there is divorce, step-parents, or death of a parent or grandparent.

    Rule of thumb about Recessional is to go backwards from how they came in.

    Groom and Groomsmen may come out of the front or down the aisle. All decided at the rehearsal.

    NUMBER ONE PRIORITY is to get the Processional and Recessional list ironed out before the rehearsal and use a pencil to make changes during the rehearsal.

  12. Julie Hermam says:

    All helpful reminders. thank you for sharing!

  13. This is excellent information and exactly how I run my rehearsals! I also go over the MOH adjusting the bride”s train if necessary right before the ceremony is to start. Also, if there are children involved in the ceremony, I usually have them stand at the front just before the ceremony is to start for photos, but then I make sure there is a reserved seat for them in the front row so that a parent can take the children to their seat so they are not standing during the entire ceremony – they tend to fidget and it is too much of a distraction during the wedding ceremony.

  14. Pam Sayle says:

    I have never heard of the counting style. 1 2 4 5 3 5 6 7…. Please give me more details of what you are counting, steps maybe?

    Thank you,

  15. Brenda says:

    A couple other things I think are important are for the guys to cross their hands (right over left), no hands in pockets. Also, the best man is responsible for the rings if at any point they are dropped. Too many grabbing for them can be a bad scene. Question for planners: Do you still have ushers escort the parents out after the recessional or do they walk out on their own. This tradition seems to have changed I’m finding.

  16. The Big Day Planner says:

    Here’s a tip I found very helpful for outdoor wedding rehearsals:
    If the wedding is outdoors in a grassy area, it helps for the bridesmaids to wear the shoes they plan to don on the wedding day so that they can practice walking on the grass in heels. Also, they should walk on the tips of their toes as opposed to their heels so that they don’t sink into the ground : )

  17. Diana says:

    One thing I like to do is email the itinerary to the bridal party ahead of time(Like about a week or so). This way they have the layout and have some idea before the Rehearsal what to expect. During the intros at the Rehearsal I like to go over our roles. We are to make sure Bride & Groom are in the “Bubble”. Any issues/problems can be handled without them knowing it! Mine and my assistant’s name and contact info are on the itinerary as well!

  18. Rene says:

    I have my first wedding as a planner next week and found this to be EXTREMELY helpful. I’ll definitely be keeping all these tips in mind.

  19. KK says:

    This was a great refresher. I tend to get so bogged down with the reception piece that I never really get to do the ceremony and end up having someone else do it. I too am a fan of the flowers at the belly button rule!

  20. Jane says:

    I like telling the bridesmaids and groomsmen to walk, ‘one step slower than uncomfortable,’ and for the bridesmaids to carry their flowers, ‘at their bellybuttons not their boobs.’ It gets a laugh, but helps them remember to slooow down and for the latter, the ladies arms look longer and more elegant.

  21. […] you are on a budget, there are still ways for you to have a successful rehearsal dinner. While you cannot expect your guests to pay for their own dinner since they are committing to the […]

  22. Lorna says:

    I also let the hostess and usher know their roles at the rehersal.
    I also go over everything with the couple before the rehersal. That will help prevent someone else giving their “2 cents” I can’t stand that!!

  23. I also do 1, 2, 4, 5, 3, 4, 5, 6. Regardless of how you do it, I think as long as you have a system, that’s all that matters.

    One thing that I have found that helps is I always communicate with the wedding party ahead of time – that way they know my name and know I’ll be there on the day of the rehearsal and wedding. Sort of “warms them up” to expect me there.

  24. Beth says:

    Thanks for the info. I’m at the beginning stages of this whole crazy process and I know so little.

  25. Love the refresher. One question I get over and over is where the flower girl and ring bearer go. I tend to send them to the end and walk out with the last couple. This allows them to sit down when they get bored without causing much disruption. What are your thoughts?

    • Debbie says:

      Thanks for the comment Mark. In my experience, the flower girl(s) and ring bearer(s) seem to do different things at every single wedding. Sometimes they can stand with the bridal party, sometimes they run, sometimes they immediately sit. Even when we decide at the rehearsal, the kiddos don’t always cooperate at the wedding (as I’m sure you’ve seen too).

  26. Lexi Schafer says:

    Thank you for sharing this article, Debbie. It’s nice to see it in print once in awhile!

  27. I think I tend to do it 1, 2, 4, 5, 3, 4, 5, 6…… It honestly depends on the officiant, the venue and if there is a venue coordinator. I usually take this time to cover little logistics such as bouquets being handed off, navigating steps, etc. Once the bridal party and families feel comfortable, I am happy. Of course, the larger the party, the longer it takes.

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