One of the most overlooked parts of wedding planning is the rehearsal. While some people opt to skip this step, I have seen how much smoother ceremonies run when they’ve been rehearsed. After all, the ceremony really is the most important part!
After coordinating hundreds of wedding rehearsals, I thought it was about time to make an easy list to help plan the perfect rehearsal (and ceremony!). I scoured the internet and picked the brains of my fellow coordinators to provide an extensive list to help make your rehearsal run smoothly.
While we love meeting all of your family friends, we (and you!) don’t need 30 people attending the rehearsal. It means that it takes longer to coordinate everyone, and we have to speak over more people. Limit your guest list to those who will actually be participating in the ceremony. This normally includes people who are:
Before your rehearsal, sit down with your fiance and decide who you want walking down the aisle, and what order you want them in. The order that we see the most is: officiant, groom, best man, groomsmen, Mother of the Bride (sometimes escorted), Parents of the Groom, Bridesmaids, Maid of Honor, Ring Bearer, Flower Girl, Bride & her Dad.
The order is totally up to you, and it’s your wedding, so do what you like! Just make sure to decide before your rehearsal.
Theres a few things to think about when it comes to kids. The most important thing to consider is: Are they old enough? Make sure they are able to walk. This may seem silly, but yes, we have seen children younger than 1 yr. participate. In this case a parent will walk/carry them down the aisle, but trust us, it’s much easier if they can walk on their own. We recommend that children be at least 5 years old if you want them to walk on their own.
Also consider what you want them to do during the ceremony. Depending on their age, they can get antsy during the ceremony. I always think it’s nice to have the kids sit down with their parents/family member after they have walked down the aisle.
When the bride and her escort reach the gazebo, there’s several ways the hand off can go. Usually the officiant will say something like: “Who gives this woman away?” The escort will say something along the lines of: “I do/Her mother and I do/We do” etc. At that point the bride and escort will hug, the groom will shake the escorts hand (or hug!), and then the escort will place the brides hand on the groom’s hand. The bride and groom will make their way to the gazebo, while the escort takes their seat in the front row.
Want to skip the exchange? No problem! It’s still nice to hug/high five/shake hands, skip the talking, and get straight to the ceremony.
The number 1 thing that makes rehearsals run late is…late people! I usually recommend that the Bride and Groom arrive 30 minutes before the rehearsal. This gives us plenty of time to go over any decorations that you are dropping off, and your processional order. Additionally, tell everyone who is attending the rehearsal to come 15-20 minutes before the rehearsal is actually scheduled to start. Someone will always be running late, and we only have a limited amount of time to rehearse.
Is there anything important that you want guests to know before or after the ceremony? Do you want guests to put their phones and cameras away before the ceremony? Do you want someone to let guests know where to go for cocktail hour? Should the officiant let family know where to go for photos? The officiant is already speaking in front of guests, so they’re the perfect person to make announcements for you before and after the ceremony.
This list is a great start to answering all of your rehearsal-related questions. Still have more? We love this guide from A Practical Wedding and Wedding Wire. And of course you can always give us a call for more tips and ideas!
""We were very lucky to get married at Elliston. The place is beautiful and has its own charm being hidden within Niles Canyon in Sunol. Madeline was our wedding coordinator and she was absolutely amazing - she always answered all my emails right away (even on her day off), she was quick and very helpful with decorating tips and ideas. We were allowed to bring our own wine and décor. Our ceremony and reception were absolutely perfect - we had buffet for our guests and the food was delicious : filet mignon was juicy, salmon perfect and chicken very tender. Thank you Madeline for giving us the perfect day of our lives Elizabeth and Rafael"" - Elizabeth & Rafael - May 27, 2016