The Wedding Rehearsal
By Lisa D. Frogge
Wedding rehearsals are an exciting prelude to the Big Day. The rehearsal is meant to work out many of the details of the actual wedding ceremony. A little planning before the rehearsal will make the evening more relaxing and enjoyable for everyone.
The rehearsal typically takes place the evening before the ceremony at the location where the ceremony is to be held. The bride, groom, officiate, attendants and musicians should attend the rehearsal. In addition, other family members such as parents, grandparents and parents of children who are participating in the wedding may attend. Perform introductions so that all guests get to know the important people in the lives of the bridal couple. If the services of a videographer will be utilized for the ceremony, it may be beneficial for that person to attend the rehearsal as well so they can determine lighting requirements and vantage points for taping. Encourage everyone to be on time for the rehearsal! As the rehearsal dinner usually is held after the rehearsal itself, everyone will be anxious to practice their roles so they can relax and enjoy the dinner.
As much as possible have the decorations such as large candelabra and floral arrangements in place so the bride, groom and other attendants will be able to see clearly where they will stand during the ceremony. If fresh floral arrangements are to be delivered the day of the ceremony, ask your florist the dimensions of the arrangements so you can mark where they will be placed. This will ensure that an attendant isn’t inadvertently assigned a spot where flowers will be positioned. Also, if programs will be distributed at the ceremony, bring several copies to the rehearsal to give to the attendants, officiate, musicians, etc. This will help clarify the order of service for them and assist them in recognizing their cues.
The officiate and often a wedding coordinator are usually the individuals who direct the rehearsal. Since most everyone is anxious to know exactly where they should stand during the ceremony, start by positioning them in the appropriate location. If necessary, place small pieces of tape on the floor to mark the spots. Then determine how the bride, groom and attendants will enter and exit the ceremony. This is also a good time to demonstrate to special guests who will be escorted into the ceremony (parents, grandparents, etc.) where they will be seated and whom will be their escort. Ushers will be directed how to escort guests into and out of the ceremony and also which seats are reserved for special guests.
After everyone is positioned to satisfaction, the officiate will go through the order of service, including readings and songs, and make clear what types of signals he will use to cue the next item of service. He will also practice the vows with the bride and groom. He may not recite the vows in their entirety in order to make the recitation at the ceremony more meaningful. This is the time to work out the timing for moving to each segment of the ceremony such as lighting of the unity candle or presenting flowers to mothers. Practice the processional (entrance) and recessional (exit) with the music so the bride, groom and attendants will measure their pace with the timing of the music. Consider when photographs will be taken during these times and factor that information in when setting the pace.
Pay special attention to the young children participating in the wedding. Be very clear in explaining their roles and demonstrating exactly what they are expected to do. Arrange for a familiar adult to be with them as they are preparing to enter and exit the ceremony. Show them where trusted family members and friends will be seated so they may locate a friendly face during the ceremony. Plan to have a “Plan B” in case they become frightened and refuse to participate during the actual ceremony.
Rehearse the ceremony a few times to make everyone involved feel comfortable with their assigned roles, but do not expect a perfect performance. It’s a wedding ceremony, not a one act play! If the bride and groom concentrate on the love and commitment they are making to one another, the day will be perfect, no matter what else happens.