There are many reasons why having a wedding rehearsal is a good idea, if you have guests and/or a bridal party. Doing a run-through of it before it happens in front of a crowd will make it seem natural and help avoid some common pitfalls and hints of awkwardness.
Now, if the ceremony involves just you, your partner, and the celebrant plus a few witnesses; you have a straightforward entrance and aisle; and music that doesn’t need super specific cues, I’ll give you a rehearsal pass, unless you want one… then have one!
Otherwise, you’ll want your wedding rehearsal filled with as much of your wedding party as possible if you have people who are:
- Walking or moving down an aisle
- Standing or sitting somewhere specific when they get there
- Possibly moving mid-ceremony
- Other people who may be standing or sitting somewhere specific halfway through
- Walking or moving back down the aisle at the end
My suggestion is that numbers of those attending at the rehearsal be kept to the minimum, otherwise there’ll be no surprises on the day.
It’s also good to have one person in charge; this is not a good time for direction by committee. Even if you don’t have a planner/coordinator, designate one person to run the show and keep everybody on task.” Your celebrant is a great option, or anyone else who is good at keeping a group relatively focused.
To be clear: what doesn’t happen at a wedding rehearsal is a full read-through of the entire ceremony. If you want to do this, you certainly should do it with your partner, your celebrant, and anyone else who’s speaking (and, regardless, you should all practice your parts out loud individually). But you shouldn’t read through every word of the ceremony at the wedding rehearsal where you have a decent-sized audience of people who are going to hear it all again the next day.
So, what exactly are rehearsals for?
- Choose the optimum location for the actual ceremony (if possible have your rehearsal at the same time as your ceremony so that you can see where the sun will be).
- Run through where to stand
- Practice the walking in and giving away (if you are having this)
- Some couples like to practice the vows but not all, however you should practice the exchanging of the rings as sometimes couples get confused with which hand and finger to put the ring on (there are a couple of tips that I can help you with)
- Where will you sign your licence, how will this work on the day, who are the witnesses, do they know they are witnesses? It’s also the ideal time for the final check that all the details are correct on your licence.
- Walk through the final presentation and walking up the aisle – where will you go to? What happens next?
- An honest discussion regarding nerves and how to beat them on the day.
After your rehearsal you will feel empowered and relaxed.
And, a final note: I generally have couples plan on an hour for a wedding rehearsal. 15 minutes for everyone to arrive and chat (especially if it’s a group that hasn’t been in the same place in awhile), 30 minutes to guide everyone through it, 10 minutes to run through it without my help, and 5 minutes to answer questions or get an early dismissal. Easy! But important.