One of the early questions that couples face is whether to have a wedding rehearsal. Most ceremonies that I perform do need one but there are exceptions. If a small wedding has no wedding party and no processional or recessional a rehearsal is probably not necessary. In that case, couples that I work with have a full ceremony script that we have written together which we talk through step by step prior to their ceremony.
If, on the other hand, the ceremony has multiple bride’s maids and groom’s men, a Unity Candle or other ritual, readers or special music, parents walking down the aisle and possibly a ring bearer and flower girl, there needs to be a practice run so everyone knows their part.
At the rehearsal, everyone who is a part of the ceremony practices where they’ll stand, what they will do, the timing and the spacing on walking in and out.
With the COVID backlog of weddings, venues are often booked with weddings on Fridays, Saturdays and even weeknights. In many cases, the space is not available for the typical Friday night rehearsal. When that is the case, there are a number of options.
The first is to have the rehearsal at the venue at a lower demand time – possibly on a weekday, or even the day of the wedding, well in advance of when the guests arrive. I also conduct many rehearsals off-site at hotels where the wedding party is staying, restaurants, or at someone’s home – even in their driveway - where an informal BBQ rehearsal dinner might follow.
Most often I conduct wedding rehearsals on my own. But, I also co-lead wedding rehearsals when a couple has hired a wedding planner. When choosing an officiant, couples should find someone who has the experience necessary to lead a rehearsal on his or her own, but also one with enough humility to “play nice in the sand box” with a wedding planner when they are leading the rehearsal together.
A well-run wedding rehearsal really helps to calm a couple and their wedding party so that everyone can truly experience and enjoy the magic of that special day.