Running your first few wedding rehearsals can be a daunting task. Many wedding planners have commented that this is their least favorite part of the wedding planning process.
If the officiant or church coordinator will be at the ceremony rehearsal, communicate with him the week prior to determine who will be responsible for directing the rehearsal. Some church coordinators and officiants prefer to take charge which is helpful to know ahead of time.
You can also inquire with the ceremony musicians to see if they would like to attend the rehearsal.
Confirm with the couple that everyone has arrived then start by welcoming the guests to the rehearsal and introduce yourself. Explain your process for the rehearsal by talking briefly about the steps listed below.
Place the wedding party in their positions on the altar area (or under the chuppah, mandap, or other religious structure) so they know where to stand during the ceremony. These details should be included in your wedding day timelines that you created and finalized with the couple prior to the wedding.
After everyone knows their places for the ceremony, line up the wedding party, parents, wedding couple, and officiant in the correct order for the processional, then send everyone down the aisle. If the musicians are present, you can cue them at the appropriate times.
As the bride comes down the aisle, she will be on her father’s left arm if he is escorting her. When it’s time for her father to be seated, the bride will typically kiss him goodbye then shake the hand (or hug) the groom. The bride’s father will then walk behind the bride to his seat. At this point, the bride normally gives her bouquet to her maid of honor and the groom will extend his left hand to the bride.
After the processional is done and everyone is in place, you or the officiant will run through the basic wedding ceremony details. Be sure to determine who will have the rings on the wedding day. Typically the best man will have the rings unless the ring bearer is old enough to be responsible for the real rings.
After the kiss, the bride will get her bouquet from the maid of honor. At this time, the officiant will introduce the couple and the recessional music begins. The best man and maid of honor will wait until the bride and groom are at the back of the room, then the best man will extend his right arm to the maid of honor and they will walk out together. The rest of the bridal party will follow in the same manner.
It’s helpful to choose an agreed-upon distance where each couple will exit (for example: when the couple in front gets to the fifth row of chairs, then the next couple exits). This allows for a uniform bridal party recessional and gives the photographer and videographer time for photos. After the last wedding party couple recesses down the aisle, the parents and any people sitting in the front row should immediately follow.
Depending on the couple and the complexity of the ceremony, you may need to run through this process one time or up to four times until everyone feels comfortable. For Indian weddings, Jewish weddings, and other religions, the processional and recessional may be very different from the basics we share in this article. Your clients and the officiant can assist you with the actual logistics and details specific for each wedding.
After the rehearsal is finished, confirm that the wedding party knows where to meet on the wedding day and what time they need to arrive. You may also want to make an announcement about the rehearsal dinner if necessary.
Do you have any tips to share about running wedding rehearsals? Please share them in the comments!
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