A wedding rehearsal helps everyone in the wedding party know in advance what to expect during the big day. The rehearsal can be held at the location of the ceremony or even in someone’s living room. The rehearsal doesn’t run in the same order as the wedding, although this may sound confusing the process actually helps everyone see the big picture – where do I stand?
Who Attends the Wedding Rehearsal?
Everyone in the wedding party, both sets of parents, and possibly grandparents should be present at the run-through. Send out invitations to everyone who can be present knows of this practice session. This may be the first time everyone gets an opportunity to meet one another face-to-face; this is important for ushers who will have the task of escorting specific relatives to their seats before the wedding ceremony.
If someone in the wedding party cannot attend, leave a space for them and ask those on either side to help direct that person on the wedding day.
Step One: Practice the Receiving Line
Run through the receiving line first. Although this may seem unnecessary, it will greatly speed things on the wedding day when wedding guests expect to move through the receiving line to get to the cocktail hour. Reverend James Wentz suggests the receiving line start with the mothers, the bride, and groom, the fathers, the best man and maid/matron of honor, followed by the rest of the wedding party.
Step Two: Stand in Order at the Altar
The bride and groom face the Officiant; during the rehearsal, this may be a chair. The attendants stand on either side of the couple, facing them so they are in profile to the guests. Ring bearers and flower girls stand in front of the best man and matron of honor. The wedding couple can save time by knowing where everyone will stand before the day of the rehearsal. For additional information, go to How to Practice at a Wedding Rehearsal.
Step Three: Practice the Recessional
The bride and groom leave first. The flower girl(s) and ring bearer(s) follow behind. The maid/matron of honor and the best man walk down the aisle together, followed by paired bridesmaids and groomsmen. The attendants who were closest to the bride and groom leave first, followed by those who were farther from the couple.
Step Four: Practice the Processional
The groom and the attendants move down the aisle to the altar, standing in place as previously practices. During the recessional, the groomsman furthest from the groom leaves last; during the processional, he will be the first groomsman to enter. The bridesmaids enter in the same pattern, the outer bridesmaid entering first, positioning herself so she mirrors the groomsman with whom she is paired.
Next is the ring bearer, followed by the flower girl. The bride and her escort wait until everyone else is in place and the music changes before walking down the aisle. The groom may step toward the bride and offer her his arm for the last few steps to the altar. The bride’s escort sits.
Step Five: Practice the Wedding Service
Although it isn’t necessary to run through the wedding service word-for-word, it can be helpful to mime the actions of the unity ceremony, have the bride practice handing her bouquet to the maid/matron of honor, have the attendants practice holding a costume jewelry ring, and allow small children to know when they can and can’t move.
After running through the wedding ceremony, the wedding party can again practice the recessional. Repeat any part of the processional/recessional or ceremony that seems necessary so to make everyone feel comfortable. The entire process can take an hour or two, depending on the size of the wedding party.