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Planning a Successful Wedding Rehearsal

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

Those wedding ceremonies you have been to that looked like it went flowed flawlessly required great preparation and practice. Wedding rehearsals are so essential! It helps everyone involved in the ceremony know what to do, when and where. A wedding rehearsal is typically held 1-2 days before the wedding day for your bridal party, family members and anyone involved in the ceremony. Don't forget to invite your officiant, ushers, and ceremony musicians. This rehearsal should typically be quick, 45 minutes - 1 hour and includes a run through of the ceremony, followed by an optional rehearsal dinner for the group. Follow this quick guide as an outline of how to run an effective wedding rehearsal!

You've spent months or years planning your dream wedding, so this is the final piece to help it run smoothly!


1. Pair them up

This is the time to pair up your bridal party and determine who will walk with whom. You can pair people up by height or by personality. If you have more bridesmaids or groomsmen, you can pair up 2 people from the other side to even it out. Best man and maid of honor are typically paired together.

2. Where will people enter from

Do you want the groom to enter from the side of the altar? Would you like the bridesmaids and groomsmen to come down the aisle in pairs or individually? Will the bride stroll down any grand stairs or come from a different entrance? This is when you will decide how everyone will process into the ceremony.

3. Set the order

Line everyone up in the order for the processional. Will the officiant be walking down the aisle or already be up at the altar? Will you have parents, family members or junior bridesmaids walking down the aisle? Determine the order of everyone involved. The typical order is officiant, grandparents, parents, groom, wedding party, ring bearer, flower girl, and then bride. But don't be afraid to make this your own!

4. Determine where everyone will stand

Have everyone practice where they will stand during the ceremony. Typically the bride is on the left side and groom on the right side, with the bridesmaids and groomsmen on the respective sides. Make sure they are evenly and symmetrically spaced in their line and that the officiant is the centered to the couple. Make sure you discuss if the young flower girls or ring bearers will remain standing with the bridal party, or if they will immediately sit near family. If this is a religious ceremony that may take longer, determine if you will have your bridal party sit down for any portions of it. Also, don't forget to have the groomsmen determine if they will stand with their hands in front of them, to the side, in their pocket or behind their back so they look uniform for pictures.

5. Practice Practice Practice

Now that you have your pairs, know where everyone will enter from, have the order and know where everyone goes, it's time to practice it all. If your DJ or band performing at your ceremony can't be at your rehearsal, simply make a playlist of the songs that will be used and play from your phone or a speaker so everyone can get comfortable with the tempo and sound of the songs that will be played. If you find the song to be too short, make sure you discuss extending it with the musician.

- Have everyone enter exactly as they would in the real ceremony. With the correct pairs, order, location, placements and songs as the big day.

- If you choose to have family members walk, make sure they know what side to sit on and ensure there are reserved seats for them in the front.

- Practice the spacing of when the next pair or individual in the bridal party should come down the aisle. Do you want the previous pair or person to be all the way at the altar first, or can the next person go when they are in the middle of the aisle.

- Encourage them to take it seriously. Walking at the slow pace they would in real life, holding mock bouquets, smiling, etc.

- Don't forget to help the kiddos out and give them that extra practice.

- Practice walking down the aisle with who will be giving you away. When you get to the altar, have the officiant practice his opening speech so that the groom knows at what que he can receive you.

6. Ceremony walkthrough

Have the officiant briefly go through the order of the ceremony events. It should not be a word for word of the entire ceremony. If you plan to do to any ceremony traditions such as unity candle, sand ceremony, jumping of the broom, etc., it's important to make sure you know when that will happen and where to go for it. Have any ceremony readers practice what they will be saying in the mics so they are comfortable at the big day.

7. Practice the recessional

This part should be more simple and festive. Make sure you know the officiant's final words/que for you to know when to leave. The bride/groom should be the first pair in the recessional, followed by the best man/maid of honor, and the rest of bridal party in pairs or individually as you please (typically in reverse order of the processional). Traditionally, the parents exit after the bridal party while guests remain seated. Remind everyone to be happy and lively during this part.

8. Discuss what's next

Inform the bridal party of where they should go after the recessional and go through a brief overview of the rest of the reception for them. This is also a good time to briefly share with them where they will enter from during the reception entrance.

9. Extra steps

- Inform the ushers what they will be doing and where they should stand. Greeting guests, handing out programs, seating or directing guests or any other duties.

- If you want to have a receiving line, determine where it will be held and who will be in the line.

- If you have bridal party choreography for your reception or ceremony, you may want to set aside time to practice a run through while everyone is together.

Be sure to set up a rehearsal date months in advance with your ceremony site. If your site cannot accommodate, you can rehearse off-site. Everyone should be able to modify it for the actual venue day. It may seem easy to skip the rehearsal, but that one hour of practice will be worth it. It assists everyone involved to get their nerves under control and to not be surprised by anything happening. An awkward ceremony will be noticed by guests, and that's not you want. Practice makes perfect!

Get a wedding planner!

If you hire a wedding planner, they can execute and lead a rehearsal for you to take off that last minute stress. They can keep everything organized, timely, and simple so you can enjoy your last moments before your big day.

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