As your wedding day starts to approach, more and more last minute & small items on your to-do list start coming to the head front. Did I book a nail appointment? What time do I need to pick up my family from the airport? Do I have my honeymoon bag packed? Have I written my vows? Do we need a rehearsal?
You may be asking yourself whether or not a rehearsal is a requirement, or just a recommendation, or is it something we can or should skip all together? We are here to help and educate you, so that you can decide for yourself whether or not you want to plan on conducting a ceremony rehearsal for your wedding.
What Is a Wedding Rehearsal?
A wedding rehearsal is a run-through of the ceremony, usually conducted the day before. Your wedding planner/coordinator, or sometimes the officiant, will go over each aspect of the ceremony, from the processional (when everyone walks down the aisle) to the recessional (when everyone exits the ceremony). Those who are a part of the ceremony (family members, bridal party, flower girls/ring bearers, etc) will have an opportunity to practice lining up, walking and sitting/standing in their assigned positions, before the wedding day.
Reasons to Have a Wedding Rehearsal
The venue requires it
This will most likely be the case if you are having a church ceremony as some religious ceremonies have a lot of traditions & moving parts and it’s important for all involved to know what to expect and when (including any readers, special music, bridal party, etc)
You have a lot of kids involved
If you’ve chosen to have kids be a part of your ceremony, having a rehearsal could be helpful for them. They may not have been to a wedding before, and even if they have, they probably haven’t been in one (or hey, they probably won’t even remember!). A practice run can help them know what’s expected and get them familiar with the location, the bridal party and with us
You want to have one!
If you love tradition and having a rehearsal is important to you, have one. If it gives you peace of mind to move forward with one, then do it. It is, after all, your wedding day and ultimately, it’s all about you!
Who Should Attend a Wedding Rehearsal?
There is no hard and fast rule who should be at the rehearsal, and it does depend on who’s doing what during your ceremony, but we recommend the bride & groom (obviously!) and anyone that’s involved in the ceremony itself (parents, wedding party, flower girls/ring bearers) in addition to any ushers or readers. Most times, the officiant and DJ/musicians do not attend your rehearsal. Don’t worry if not everyone can attend - as long as there’s a few people that can help pass along the information, you should be set.
Advantages of Having a Wedding Rehearsal
The greatest benefit of a wedding rehearsal is to relieve the couple and wedding party of as many nerves as possible. It can be a big help for the key players to know exactly how they need to proceed down the aisle, where they need to sit, when to stand and where they might read from. Also, keep in mind that the bridal parties probably haven’t seen the wedding venue before, so it can be reassuring for them to be familiar and ultimately, make the morning and last minute preparations much smoother, less anxious and more enjoyable. Rehearsals can also be a fun addition and if your family and friends haven’t had a chance to meet yet, make the introductions and start getting familiar with how the wedding day will go.
Disadvantages of Having a Wedding Rehearsal
You may be asking yourself, are there any disadvantages to holding a wedding rehearsal? Unless you have a particularly complex setup, formal rehearsals can actually be counterproductive. They lack the setup and atmosphere of the wedding day, access to the venue can be difficult and getting everyone together is often more of a headache than anything else. And in the days leading up to the wedding, time is at a premium.
Reasons Not to Have a Wedding Rehearsal
There's no rule that says you must have a wedding rehearsal. If your wedding is small, with few or no wedding attendants, and does not include any wedding traditions, customs, or special readings, then you can probably get away with not conducting a rehearsal.
You’re having an outdoor or very simple ceremony
Most outdoor wedding ceremonies aren’t complicated and are shorter than traditional church weddings. You’ll need to know the order you are walking down the aisle, where to stand during the ceremony and when to walk back out. That’s what you have a wedding coordinator for - to line everyone up, coordinate with your DJ, guests and officiant, and tell you exactly when to walk and where to stand. Viola! Everyone is prepared and no wedding rehearsal is necessary.
Your venue is booked the day before
This is going to be the case at almost any wedding venue unless you’re having a Thursday or maybe a Friday wedding. You can always work around this by doing the rehearsal a few days before or even the morning of your wedding. Again your wedding planner or on site coordinator will be able to run through the necessary details with you. You can even get them to run through them separately if you don’t want to see each other before the ceremony.
Time is Money!
You may just rather spend time with your out of town guests - just because you don’t have a rehearsal doesn’t mean you can’t still have the dinner rehearsal dinner. Plus, you’ll be running around getting everything ready for the next day (dropping off welcome bags, getting your mani & pedi, checking into the hotel), so forgoing a rehearsal, might be in your best interest. If you don’t need a rehearsal, take it off of your to do list. Plus, with Austin traffic and the price of gas, your wedding party attendees might be thanking you for saving them both time and money!
Whether you decide to conduct a rehearsal or not, it’s important to be clear on things with your family members and bridal party such as where you want guests to sit (is it open seating, or bride on one side/groom on the other), where you want your family to sit (typically first rows on each side are reserved for immediate family), how you want the bridal party to proceed down the aisle (and in what order), and if you want a formal order at the end of the ceremony as guests leave. Your wedding coordinator will lead most other things, but there is no harm in giving your ‘team’ a written briefing on these points in the week or so before your wedding if a rehearsal is not taking place. We also like to reiterate what groomsmen should do with their hands while they stand alongside the groom (hands in their pockets? clasped together?) as well as the height at which the bride and bridesmaids should carry their bouquets in order to look good in photos (belly button). We will also confirm who will have the rings and your vows and where to go after you say “I Do”! All of these details are very important to ensure a flawless ceremony on the wedding day.
Ideally, the concept of a wedding rehearsal is about attempting to deliver a seamless production on the wedding day, but let’s face it, practice sometimes doesn’t make it perfect. Some of the best and most heart-warming wedding ceremony moments are when little unplanned and funny things have happened and at the end of the day, that’s what will make your wedding day memorable, unique & perfect in its own way.