Just Married

Your wedding rehearsal should be a quick, easy, and straightforward process. At the rehearsal, you are not practicing the ceremony itself – you are only practicing walking in and walking out, and making sure everyone knows where to stand.

 

Since the officiant is one of the first people to enter at the beginning of the ceremony, it’s not always easy for the officiant to “cue” each group and tell them when to start walking (unless the officiant can be seen easily from where the party is lining up).

 

This is normally the responsibility of the coordinator at your ceremony site, or your wedding planner if you have one. Many couples will also ask a friend or family member to help run the rehearsal and cue everyone for their entrance to the ceremony, which is a great option.  (Please let me, the officiant, know who this person is)

 

Traditional Wedding Lineup Diagram

Wedding Rehearsal Guide.jpg

Breaking With Tradition & Variations

I always tell my couples that there is no “right” way to do a wedding ceremony! I encourage you to create something that is a unique expression of your love and your family dynamics.

Traditions are wonderful, and many couples choose to have a traditional ceremony from start to finish – others choose to break with tradition and do something entirely different.  Listen to your heart and do what feels right for the two of you, whatever that may be.

 

Multi-Parent Escort – Many of our couples choose to be escorted into the ceremony by multiple parents, instead of just by one... or maybe NONE AT ALL  (Partners to be married walk in together - gives a vibe of you stepping into this part of your future together!) 

 

Traditionally, the father of the Bride escorts her down the aisle, I often work with couples who have their mother and father, or father and step-father, walk them down the aisle together. This isn’t just limited to the Bride, we also have plenty of weddings where the Groom is also escorted into the ceremony by his parents.

Follow these easy steps to rehearse the wedding ceremony quickly and easily, your friends and families will thank you and you can get on to your rehearsal dinner!

1. Start in the middle. Instead of starting with the processional (entrance), start by getting everyone into place where they will be standing during the ceremony (so at the “front”). Remember that you are practicing walking in and out, so knowing where to stand is the first step.

 

See the diagram above for the traditional positions for your officiant, parents, and attendants. It’s important to have your wedding party evenly spaced and standing at a slight angle in relation to your wedding guests. This looks better for pictures, and helps the guests see each person in your wedding party better.

 

Attendants that have flowers should hold their bouquets in front of them with both hands. Any attendants in suits, should decide on clasping their hands in the front or the back of their body. It’s important that everyone do the same thing, if everyone is doing something different it doesn’t look as great in your wedding photos.

 

2. If the officiant is present, they will speak through the ceremony headings. If not, you can take a look at the ceremony draft and read through the headings aloud, so everyone knows roughly the order of the ceremony. Don’t read through the entire ceremony word-for-word or say the vows, save that excitement for your big day. Make a note of any wedding ceremony readings (bible verse, poem etc), candle lighting or sand ceremonies, and when the rings will need to be presented. Double check that any items needed during the ceremony like candles or a table will be there that day. No matter what, make sure that everyone (including the couple) knows that they shouldn’t stand with their backs to the wedding guests at any point in the ceremony. Even if people need to move around during the ceremony, for example to do a candle lighting ceremony, make sure that they always end up standing in a position where they still at least ½ way, face the guests (and the photographer). The last item on the list will be the kiss and, if the couple has chosen to do so, the presentation of the couple.

3. Practice walking out (the recessional). Since you have everyone in place already, practice the recessional as if the ceremony has just ended and you are walking out. Start with the kiss and/or the presentation of the couple, and exit in the proper order. The Bride will take her bouquet from the Maid of Honor and exit with the Groom. Typically, the wedding party will exit in pairs even if they enter separately, followed by the Flower Girl and Ring Bearer and then the parents and grandparents. It’s important to make sure that each couple that exits the ceremony leaves enough room between themselves and the couple in front of them. To do this, everyone should agree on a set distance they will wait for before walking. Most people choose to start walking when the couple in front of them is halfway back up the aisle. In general, it’s best to leave at least 20 feet between each couple for the sake of pictures, but not much more than that. Once everyone has successfully exited the ceremony, it’s finally time to practice walking in.

 

4. Practice the processional last. Now that everyone knows where to stand when they enter the ceremony, practicing the entrance should be a piece of cake. Line everyone up in the order they will enter, for our clients this information is at the top of the ceremony draft. The Officiant, Groom, Best Man, and Groomsmen enter first, typically from the side of the ceremony site but sometimes up the aisle depending on preference. Following them are the grandparents, the parents of the Groom, and the Mother of the Bride. Finally, the Bridesmaids, Maid of Honor, and Flower Girl enter. While the Officiant, Groom, and Groomsmen normally enter together as a group in a straight line, everyone else needs to be spaced evenly. As with the recessional, it’s important to agree upon how much space to leave between people entering the ceremony - Also, the photographer will likely want to get photos of each group at some point as they walk down the aisle, let everyone know to walk slowly and pause if directed to by the officiant or photographer. The Bride and her escort (typically the Father of the Bride) should not enter until the entire wedding party has entered and is in place. Normally there is a separate piece of music for the Bride’s processional, and the officiant will usually say “Everyone will please rise,” in order to invite your guests to stand.

 

5. The hand-off. The last item to practice is what happens when the Bride and her escort make it to the front of the ceremony and are standing in front of the Officiant and the Groom. If the escort is a parent of the Bride they should give her a kiss and congratulate her. The escort then typically shakes the Groom’s hand and the Bride steps forward next to the groom, and the escort moves to where they will be seated (unless we will be having the “Do you offer your love and support to this couple today” question). The Bride and Groom should then be standing facing one another, the bride still has her flowers until she is told to pass them to her maid of honor. At this point, the Maid of Honor can hand her flowers (for a moment) to one of the Bridesmaids and fix the Bride’s train, if necessary.

 

6. Do it again. Now that everyone is in place, practice walking back out and back in one more time to make sure everyone knows what to do, then you’re done! The rehearsal should not last more than 20-30 minutes at most.

The outline above will ensure that everyone knows exactly what to do on the wedding day, and that you aren’t wasting a lot of time practicing unnecessary parts of the ceremony itself. 

Other Important Questions to Consider

 

  • Who will be queuing the wedding party?

    • Will this be a family member or coordinator at the venue?

  • Who will be queuing the music?

    • DJ?  Family member? Friend?

    •  If not using a DJ, please make sure the person in charge of the music is familiar (and knows how to unlock) the device that the playlist will be on. 

  • Do you have different songs for different sections of the bridal party?

    • Example - one song for wedding party, another for each partner's entrance.

  • Will you have the “question” at the handoff (see above)?

    • I word this differently than the "Giveaway" tradition.​

  • Do you want the officiant to announce this to be an unplugged ceremony?

  • Where do you want the guests to be directed after the ceremony?

  • Who will be your witnesses (this is who will sign the marriage license)?

    • In the state of Utah it just needs to be 2 adults over the age of 18​

  • Where will the newlyweds be going right after the ceremony to sign the marriage license prior to photos?