The Free Guide to Running Your Own Wedding Rehearsal
Rehearsals seem to be falling out of trend. The added expense and logistics of gathering everyone together in an already stressful time is like trying to herd cats. Some of our brides are opting for morning of rehearsals or they will even meet the night before at their home for a cookout and even their church or park. Our team of wedding professionals, total, have participated in over 1000 wedding ceremonies. Most of our engaged couples book a wedding coordinator or at least a "Day Of" coordinator but, on occasion, some of our clients choose to do the rehearsal themselves. Our in house coordinators have created this free wedding ceremony rehearsal guide as a way to help couples run their own wedding ceremony rehearsal saving you time and money, as well as helping the ceremony run more smoothly on your wedding day. It’s important to note that there are many possible variations to the ceremony order but, this guide is focused more on the trends that we see here at Greystone Mill Weddings and Gatherings.
If you've added the rehearsal option, you'll have 1 hour Monday through Thursday for use of the outdoor ceremony areas or the pavilion/barn. There is a restroom on the east side of the salon. Bring your music to practice with. Most people bring their music on an iphone, ipod and ipads. Laptops work great too as well as small portable systems. If you'd like to rent the ballroom for a rehearsal dinner, meet and greet or cocktail hour, let us know and we will add it to the invoice. The rehearsal dinner package is 200.00 which includes cleanup.
Who Should Be In Charge?
Your wedding rehearsal should be a quick, easy, and straightforward process and should take no more than 20-30 minutes. At the rehearsal, you are not practicing the actual ceremony vows... you are only practicing walking in and walking out and of course, making sure everyone knows where to stand. Some people are under the impression their officiant will help coordinate the event. Since the officiant is one of the first people to enter at the beginning of the ceremony, it’s not possible for the officiant stand at the alter and still be able to “cue” each group and tell them when to start walking. This is normally the responsibility of the coordinator or your wedding planner. Many of our couples will also ask a friend or family member to help run the rehearsal and cue everyone for their entrance to the ceremony, which is a great option. You want the same person who is running the rehearsal to be in charge of the ceremony on your wedding day as well – that continuity will really help ensure that there isn’t any confusion on your big day. They will need to run your rehearsal quickly and efficiently and to help avoid additional charges you might incur by going over your alloted 1 hour rehearsal time.
Running The Rehearsal
Follow these easy steps to rehearse the wedding ceremony quickly and easily. Your friends and family will thank you and you can get an earlier start on your rehearsal dinner!
Instead of starting with the processional (entrance), start by getting everyone into place, in the pavilion, where they will be standing during the ceremony. Remember that you are practicing walking in and out, so knowing where to stand is the first step. See the diagram below for the standard positions for your officiant, parents, and attendants. It’s important to have your wedding party evenly spaced and standing at a slight angle in relation to your wedding guests, with the attendants at each end a little more forward than the Maid of Honor and Best Man. This looks better for pictures, and helps the guests see each person in your wedding party better. Bridesmaids should hold their bouquets in front of them with both hands, and groomsmen should decide on clasping their hands in the front or the back of their body. It’s important that everyone do the same thing, if everyone is doing something different it looks unorganized in your wedding photos.
Speak Through The Ceremony Headings
Take a look at the ceremony draft and read through the headings aloud, so everyone knows roughly the order of the ceremony. Don’t read through the entire ceremony word-for-word or say the vows. The vows are special and saved only for the big day. Make a note of any wedding ceremony readings or sand ceremonies, and when the rings will need to be presented. Double check that any items needed during the ceremony like a table will be there that day. No matter what, make sure that everyone (including the couple) knows that they shouldn’t stand with their backs to the wedding guests at any point in the ceremony. If the bride and groom need to move around during the ceremony, for example to do a sand exchanging ceremony, make sure that they always end up standing in a position where they still face the guests and the photographer. The last item on the list will be the kiss and if the couple has chosen to do so, the presentation of the couple.
Practice Walking Out (The Recessional)
Since you have everyone in place already, practice the recessional as if the ceremony has just ended and you are walking out. Start with the kiss and/or the presentation of the couple, and exit in the proper order. The Bride will take her bouquet from the Maid of Honor and exit with the Groom. Typically, the wedding party will exit in pairs even if they enter separately, followed by the Flower Girl and Ring Bearer and then the parents and grandparents. It’s important to make sure that each couple that exits the ceremony leaves enough room between themselves and the couple in front of them. To do this, everyone should agree on a set distance they will wait for before walking. Most people choose to start walking when the couple in front of them is halfway back up the aisle. In general, it’s best to leave at least 20 feet between each couple for the sake of pictures, but not much more than that. Once everyone has successfully exited the ceremony, it’s finally time to practice walking in.
Practice The Processional Last
Now that everyone knows where to stand when they enter the ceremony, practicing the entrance should be a piece of cake. Line everyone up in the order they will enter. Check out the diagram below. The Officiant, Groom, Best Man, and Groomsmen enter first, typically from the side of the pavilion but, sometimes up the aisle depending on preference. Following them are the grandparents, the parents of the Groom, and the Mother of the Bride. Finally, the Bridesmaids, Maid of Honor, and Flower Girl enter. While the Officiant, Groom, and Groomsmen normally enter together as a group in a straight line, everyone else needs to be spaced evenly. As with the recessional, it’s important to agree upon how much space to leave between people entering the ceremony – normally about 20-30 feet. The Bride and her escort (typically the Father of the Bride) should not enter until the entire wedding party has entered and is in place. Normally there is a separate piece of music for the Bride’s processional, and the officiant will usually say “If everyone will please rise,” in order to invite your guests to stand.
The last item to practice is what happens when the Bride and her escort make it to the front of the ceremony and are standing in front of the Officiant and the Groom. If the escort is a parent of the Bride they should give her a kiss and congratulate her. The escort then typically shakes the Groom’s hand, the Bride hands her bouquet to the Maid of Honor and steps forward next to the groom, and the escort moves to where they will be seated. The Bride and Groom should then be standing facing one another, holding hands in front of the Officiants. At this point, the Maid of Honor can hand off both sets of flowers to one of the Bridesmaids and fix the Bride’s train, if necessary.
Now that everyone is in place, practice walking back out and back in one more time to make sure everyone knows what to do, then you’re done! The rehearsal should not last more than 20-30 minutes at most. If you're uncomfortable and think you'll need a coordinator, let us know. Our "Day Of" coordinators are approximately 250.00 and actually provide additional services throughout the day in addition to the actual ceremony coordinating.
Following these steps will ensure that everyone knows exactly what to do on the wedding day, and that you aren’t wasting too much time practicing unnecessary parts of the ceremony itself. Below is a helpful diagram of where everyone will be standing: