REHEARSALS – TO DO OR NOT TO DO?
One thing that comes up regularly in my conversation with wedding couples is whether or not to have a rehearsal. Sometimes I am asked whether or not I recommend one. That really depends on the size and complexity of your ceremony. Ceremonies can run more smoothly after a rehearsal (no guarantees though!!).
If you are having an informal ceremony with only a few people who have to be in a particular place at a particular time then a rehearsal often isn’t necessary. As a Celebrant, what I tend to do in this case is provide the happy couple with an electronic copy of an order of ceremony which also sets out where key people need to be and what they need to do (e.g. bride and escort walk down the aisle with escort on her left arm. At the front the bride passes her flowers to the bridesmaid then escort shakes hand with the groom and kisses the bride and passes her right hand into the groom’s left hand). That tends to be sufficient for many weddings.
If you have a lot of people actually taking a part in the wedding ceremony e.g. bridesmaids, groomsmen, readers, musicians, dancers etc,, and especially if there are children taking part, a rehearsal can be very helpful. And some couples just feel that they would be more confident if we had physically run through things beforehand. A rehearsal is best done just a day or two before the big day. This means that there is more chance of people remembering what to do and that all of the key players will be around. I usually schedule about an hour for a rehearsal.
This fabulous family had a rehearsal which meant these gorgeous little girls knew what to do and when.
The first thing is to gather everyone together (sometimes rehearsals are like herding cats as people find other things to do, arrive late after work, take delivery of table decorations, put finishing touches to the seating plan etc.). Then it’s important to explain to everyone what will be happening from the initial entrance. Sometimes one of the couple will wait at the front but sometimes both members of the couple will enter the ceremony at the same time – either together or down two separate aisles.
We talk through whether bridesmaids will walk in before or after the bride. (In the past UK tradition has been for brides to enter first leaving bridesmaids to ensure that their wedding train is set out properly whereas in the USA bridesmaids have tended to enter first leaving the bride and her escort to come in after them).
We will then point out where all members of the wedding party will stand or sit during the ceremony. It is important when there are any young children involved for them to feel confident that they know what to do and that there is an assigned adult who will work with them or hold their hand. Bridal flowers need to be passed to someone for the duration of the ceremony – and passed back at the end! Rings need to be produced, readers need to appear, stand in the right place and speak loudly enough to be heard. Everyone needs to know in what order they are to leave the ceremony, if they are to wait for a photograph to be taken, where they will go next. Then we run through it!
I don’t go through the whole ceremony at the rehearsal. It is good for some things to be left until the day. For example I would only have the couple rehearse their vows if they really wanted to and if they were the only ones at the rehearsal. There are times when a reader has chosen a reading and the couple don’t know what it is until the day. I might get the reader to read out a paragraph from a book just to let them get a feel of the ceremony space but we certainly don’t want to spoil the day in any way.
These great guys didn’t have a rehearsal – just a final look around the venue and a private read through their vows. With only their photographer Spyros Paloukis there to see!
Where there are traditional elements to be included such as unity candle or unity sand ceremonies then anyone who is to be involved would walk through that so there should be no hitches on the day.
Whether or not you have a rehearsal is entirely up to you. Whatever you decide is just one more way of ensuring that you have YourDay, Your Way and that it is as enjoyable as possible.
For more about handfasting: