There’s wardrobe, hair, and makeup. There’s the opening musical number where you make your grand entrance. You even get to recite a soliloquy (a.k.a. your vows).
You’ve got your main characters (the happy couple) and your supporting cast (the bridal party). Everyone involved plays an important role.
And before the show can go on, you have rehearsals.
To ensure your big day runs smoothly, a wedding rehearsal is essential.
Getting ready to plan yours?
Here are seven expert tips for hosting a successful wedding rehearsal.
1. Make Sure Everyone Knows the Date and Time
Timing is everything. There’s no point in having a 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. The pre-wedding event is serious business, not party time!
You’ll need your officiant to be there, both spouse's parents, the entire wedding party, and any friends or family members who might be doing a reading. If you’re having a ring bearer or a flower girl, ask their parents to bring them as well.
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2. 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 or a trusted friend who’s not in the bridal party to run the rehearsal for you.
If you have a large bridal party, designate someone who can take control and manage the event. This is where it comes in handy to have a friend like Regina George (a real take-charge kind of girl, just hopefully not as mean).
As a bride or groom, you’ll need to take part in the rehearsal itself, so ask someone you trust to watch it from a distance and make sure everything looks right. This is one time when you don’t want to direct AND star in the show.
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3. Pair Your Bridesmaids and Groomsmen Beforehand
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 bridal party and let them know that this is the official pairing for the big day.
Create your pairs and stick to it. Do not let the bridal party change your mind!
The maid of honor and best man should always be paired together. Other than that, the match-ups are entirely up to you.
If someone isn’t happy with their partner, don’t sweat it. This is your wedding day, not theirs!
4. Line Everybody Up
Once everybody arrives at the ceremony venue, take a few minutes to thank them for coming. This may be the first time everyone is actually meeting each other, so keep the mood light and make everyone feel welcome.
You want your bridal party to take this seriously and learn their part, so it’s best to be gracious and polite. You know, that whole attracting-more-bees-with-honey thing.
Have your bridal party 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 walking out.
5. Go Through Your Entire Program
After you’ve directed everyone to their assigned spot, review your entire program. 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.
Hopefully, on the actual wedding day, everyone will remember their cues and do what they’re supposed to do.
If people are doing readings, make sure they know their cue and stand in the right place.
As for the bride and groom’s parents, make sure they know where to sit. It’s traditional to give parents a front-row seat. You want them to be comfortable, have a great view, and be within earshot of the officiant so they can hear you say your vows.
Also, make sure your parents and grandparents know when to enter, when to leave, and how to hand off the bride to the groom.
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6. 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:
- The bride takes her bouquet back from the maid of honor.
- The couple walks down the aisle together.
- The maid of honor and best man follow, and then the bridal party in pairs.
- The parents of the bride make their way out, followed by the parents of the groom.
- Your guests will then follow out behind them.
If you’re having a same-sex wedding, decide between the two of you whose parents should exit first.
7. 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, everything else is a piece of cake. Practice your processional order once or twice, and you should have it down!
At the end of the ceremony rehearsal, let everyone know where to gather and meet. You don’t want people milling around the grounds of the ceremony site, unsure of where they should be.
Bonus Tip: Don’t Forget Dinner!
You know what makes a wedding rehearsal fun?
The rehearsal dinner!
Whether you’re having a destination wedding or a casual ceremony in the backyard, take everyone at the rehearsal out to celebrate.
It will be sort of like having a mini wedding reception before the actual event!
If you want your wedding rehearsal to go off without a hitch, here’s what to do:
- Share the date, time, and location of the rehearsal a few weeks in advance
- Let your bridal party know who they’ll be walking with ahead of time
- Appoint a coordinator to run it and make sure it looks good from a distance
- Line everybody up so they know where to sit or stand
- Run through the program
- Practice walking out
- Practice walking in
And when the rehearsal is over, go out and celebrate! Eat dinner, have a few drinks, and get excited — you’re about to get married!