Not having wedding rehearsal game plan can make even the coolest bride sweat. If you have hired a wedding planner, ask if the contract covers their attendance at your rehearsal. This will allow key people to meet your planner and/or their staff and they will run the rehearsal. If you don’t have a planner, below are eight-steps to run a smooth trial run. The key is to run a tight ship and stick to the schedule. Unless there is an elaborate entrance or a tricky family tradition that involves a lot of people, a traditional rehearsal should be completed in less than one hour and only invite those who are in the bridal party, immediate family and ushers, greeters and readers.
Have everyone introduce themselves with their name, their role in the wedding and how they know the couple. This acts as an icebreaker and also allows your closest friends and family to finally meet each other if they haven’t already. After introductions, go over the rehearsal schedule.
Line the wedding party up where they will be during the ceremony. The bride, maid of honor and bridesmaids are traditionally on the viewer’s left side and the groom, best man and groomsmen on the viewer’s right side with the officiant in the middle. At this time, decide if the groomsmen are going to hold their hands in front or behind. I prefer in front and left hand over right. All the bridesmaids will hold their bouquets naturally around their belly buttons. It’s also a kind reminder to keep one leg slightly bent. If a wedding party member locks their knees, they may pass out. It happens more than you might think.
Have parents, grandparents and others with reserved seats sit in the seats that will be reserved. Have the ring bearer and flower girls stand in their spots.
Hand it over to the officiant and run through the ceremony as in depth as the couple and officiant desire. For any readings or traditions that involve others, be sure to thoroughly run through all of them.
Practice the recessional with the bride and groom walking down the aisle first followed by the bridal party, the flower girl and ring bearer and bride’s parents and then the groom’s parents. Select a cue point for the following couple to begin walking so spacing is the same.
Practice the processional. Line everyone in the back of the ceremony venue behind all of the guest chairs. If grandparents are entering with the processional they will go before the parents. Some grandparents choose to be in their seats prior to the ceremony. A traditional processional goes like this: the officiant will enter first and may enter from either the back or stage right. Next the parents of the groom followed by the mother of the bride who is escorted down the aisle (if she is not involved in escorting the bride down the aisle). Then the groom enters. There are a few options here; he can enter with his parents, with the officiant or enter stage right. Next, the bridesmaids and groomsmen will enter with the bridesmaids on the left and groomsmen on the right so there is not an awkward switch when the go separate ways. The order of bridal party will be the furthest ones away from the bride and groom during the ceremony walking down the aisle first. The maid of honor and best man are the last of the bridal party to walk down the aisle; followed by the ring-bearer then the flower girl. Lastly, the bride and her escort(s) will go down the aisle. Decide at this time who will be the first to stand for the bride’s entrance and what their cue will be. For those of you who are visual:
Mother of the Bride
Groom and parents
Bridesmaid and Groomsman (repeat as many times as necessary)
Maid of Honor and Best Man
Bride and Escort (father of the bride, parents of the bride, friend or another family member)
Practice the “hand-off”. When the bride and her escort reach the end of the aisle, the escort will shake hands or hug the groom, then hug the bride, and join the bride and groom’s hands together before taking a seat. At this time the officiant may ask “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”.
Repeat the recessional and processional if necessary.
Now, enjoy the rehearsal dinner!