Here’s a question I often get: do we really need a rehearsal? Yes! Even if we don’t have any attendants? Yes! Yes! YES!
The rehearsal is not only the time to make sure everyone knows where they are supposed to be, and when, but it is also a great opportunity for a final walk-thru at your venue. This is a perfect time for me to get a final picture of where everything is supposed to be for the wedding. Where is the gift table going to be? How should the centerpieces look? How do I dim the lights? Yes we will have gone over all of this before but being able to walk thru the space the day before refreshes the memory and helps discover issues before the big day.
So who should attend the rehearsal? Your entire wedding party including anyone reading or singing during the ceremony. Ushers should come as well (if able). Family is important too, especially if you are including them in the processional. This is your opportunity to eliminate potential confusion on your wedding day.
Here are some of the things I like to go over during the rehearsal:
Final positions: The wedding party needs to know where to stand – it isn’t always as obvious as you may think. And just because everyone has been in a wedding before does not mean anyone knows what to do.
How to stand: This may seem a wee bit anal, but you will thank me when you see your pictures. I never tell anyone how to stand – instead I try to make sure they all stand the same way. This is more for the groomsmen than anyone else – they need to be told if it is to be hands in front (right over left? or left over right?) or behind…perhaps at their side or in their pockets. Now think of all of those options and picture each groomsman standing a different way during your ceremony. That’s why we go over it.
For the ladies, I simply suggest they hold the bouquet with both hands while resting their elbows at hip level. Nice and relaxed.
This is also when I usually bring up the “belly button to bride” mantra. I explain to everyone that as long as their belly button is facing in the Bride’s direction, then they are always facing the right way.
The “Giving” of the Bride: I know it is archaic but I for one think it is a sweet tradition. The funny thing is, almost every Father of the Bride I have ever had looks like a deer in headlights when I ask the question. And if they do know how to answer, and when, they rarely seem to know what to do next. A lot of rehearsal time is spent on this seemingly simple moment.
Recessional timing: I like my Bride and Groom to exit completely before the rest of the wedding party – but how long do they wait in between? Time to practice!
The ceremony: Although I never go through the ceremony word for word, I do like to hit key points such as the giving away, vows, and ring exchange. If there are any readings or songs, it is important for those people to know what their cue will be. And most brides, having never done this before, have no idea what to do with their bouquet.
Think of your wedding as the greatest show you have ever produced. You wouldn’t want to have an opening night without a rehearsal first, would you?