7 Expert Tips for Hosting a Successful Wedding Rehearsal

wedding rehearsal table setting

Photo: Sofia Marmoross 

A wedding ceremony is like putting on a mini Broadway show.

The happy couple are the main characters doing the big dance number everyone’s waiting to see. The wedding party is the supporting cast, there to set the stage for your grand entrance. The wedding planner is the director who ensures everything runs according to plan. 

There’s the wardrobe and hair and makeup. There are different scenes and settings (ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception). And you also have an audience … (aka your wedding guests)! 

Every wedding is a production, whether casual and small or lavish on a grand scale. And for opening night to be a hit, there must be a rehearsal.

A wedding rehearsal is essential to ensure your big day runs smoothly.

Getting ready to plan yours? 

This is everything you need to know to make your wedding rehearsal a success.

1. Find the Perfect Rehearsal Dinner Dress

Most couples follow up their rehearsal with a rehearsal dinner, which is often one of the most memorable pre-wedding events. And every important event requires an amazing look!

Your rehearsal dinner look can be fun, flirty, sophisticated, chic, or a combination of all those things! Many brides opt to wear white to their rehearsal, so this is the perfect opportunity to wear an amazing LWD.

Little white dresses are always a great choice for brides-to-be. And with so many incredible styles, you just might want to pick up more than one. We’re talking about one for your bridal shower, one for your bachelorette bash, and one for your rehearsal dinner. 

Discover the perfect dress for your rehearsal in our newest collection of rehearsal dinner dresses!

2. Make Sure Everyone Knows the Date and Time

Timing is everything. You can’t have a proper rehearsal unless all the major players are involved, so make sure everyone knows the time and date in advance.

Don’t invite anyone who doesn’t need to be there. This pre-wedding event is all about logistics!

You’ll need your wedding officiant, both spouse's parents, and the entire wedding party to be there. Also, invite any friend or family member doing a special reading. If you’re having a ring bearer or a flower girl, ask their parents to bring them.

3. Appoint a Coordinator

If you have a wedding planner or a wedding coordinator, invite them. If you don’t have one, it’s a good idea to appoint an aunt, cousin, or trusted friend who’s not in the wedding party to run the rehearsal for you.

Designate someone who can take control and manage the event. This is where it’s handy to have a friend like Regina George (a real take-charge kind of girl)! 

As a bride or groom, you’ll need to participate in the rehearsal itself, so ask someone you trust to watch it from a distance and ensure everything looks right. 

This is the one moment when you don’t want to direct AND star in the show.

4. Pair Your Bridesmaids and Groomsmen Beforehand

wedding party behind bride and groomPhoto: Bella Bridesmaids Indianapolis/@bellabridesmaidsindy

A day or two before the rehearsal, let your bridesmaids and groomsmen know who they’ll be walking with. Send a group email to the entire wedding party and let them know the official pairings for the big day.

Create your pairs and stick to them. 

Pair your maid of honor and best man together. If you have married couples or partners in your wedding party, let them walk together. Outside of that, the match-ups are entirely up to you!

Still looking for the perfect bridesmaid dresses? Check out our collection of hundreds of bridesmaid dress styles.

5. Line Everybody Up

bridesmaids in a linePhoto: Bella Bridesmaids Birmingham/Hannah Miller

Once everybody arrives at the ceremony venue, take a few minutes to thank them for coming and make the necessary introductions. This may be the first time everyone is actually meeting each other!

Keep the mood light and make everyone feel welcome. 

It’s important that your wedding party takes the rehearsal seriously and learns the necessary cues. And it will be more fun to do so when the moment feels celebratory. 

With everyone greeted and introduced, have your wedding party members line up where you want them to stand during the ceremony. Once they know where their “mark” is on stage, it will be easier to practice walking in and out.

6. Go Through Your Entire Program

Walk through your entire program after you’ve directed everyone to their assigned spot. You don’t need to act out the entire ceremony — save that for the actual wedding day

But you do want everyone to know what will happen when.

The whole point of the rehearsal is that on the actual wedding day, everyone who’s part of the ceremony will remember their cues and do what they’re supposed to do.

If you have select ushers or esteemed guests doing special readings, review the details. That way, they know when to get up to read and where to stand when playing their role.

As for the parents of brides and grooms, it’s traditional that they have front-row seats. Their roles in the ceremony are rather limited. So make sure they know where to sit so that they have a great view as you stand before your officiant and say your vows. 

Also, make sure your parents and grandparents know when to enter and leave and how to hand off the bride to the groom.

7. Practice the Recessional

Okay, let’s recap for a second:

First, have everybody line up. Then, run through your program so everyone knows the order of things.

The next step is to practice the recessional (the part where everybody leaves).

Here’s how it usually goes:

1. The bride takes her bouquet back from the maid of honor.
2. The couple walks down the aisle together.
3. The maid of honor and best man follow, with the wedding party then exiting in pairs.
4. The parents of the bride and groom make their way out, up the aisle to the exit.
5. Your guests will then follow out behind them.

8. Practice the Processional

The processional, or the entrance, is the last thing you should practice during your rehearsal.


Because once everybody knows where to stand, the order of walking in will make everything much clearer and easier to remember. To ensure everybody has it down, practice your processional order twice.

At the end of the ceremony rehearsal, let everyone know where to gather and meet when the nuptials are over, especially those who need to be in the receiving line if you’re having one.

9. Don’t Forget Dinner!

don't forget the dinner for the wedding rehearsal!Photo: Bella Bridesmaids Chicago/Instagram

What makes a wedding rehearsal one of the best pre-wedding events is the wedding rehearsal dinner that follows! 

Whether planning an elegant black-tie reception or a casual ceremony in the backyard, hosting a dinner after your wedding ceremony rehearsal is a great way to celebrate your upcoming nuptials. Lavish or low-key, this moment is like a mini wedding reception just for your VIPs! 

Make your wedding rehearsal go off without a hitch by:

• Sharing the date, time, and location of the rehearsal 4-6 weeks in advance
• Letting your wedding party know who they’ll be walking with ahead of time
• Appointing a coordinator to run it and make sure it looks good from a distance
• Practicing the processional and recessional
• Running through the entire program so everyone knows when and where to sit or stand

    And when the rehearsal is over, go out and celebrate! Eat dinner, have a drink, and get excited — you’re about to get married!

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