Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! First and foremost, you are not required to follow any wedding rules. You do as you choose on your wedding day. We only offer suggestions. Your wedding rehearsal is the key to having a successful wedding ceremony.
The questions is asked if a couple needs a wedding rehearsal. First begin with the comfort level of the bride and groom whether they think they need a wedding rehearsal. The wedding rehearsal ensures you and your wedding party are organized and look great on your wedding day. Wedding rehearsals tend to coincide with formality of the wedding. If everyone is dressing up, there is a bridal party of three or more on each side, then I highly recommend a wedding rehearsal. If a couple is standing informally in a back yard and two dozen guests are standing, then you probably don’t need a wedding rehearsal. If you are hiring a professional wedding photographer and or wedding videographer, and there is more than three bridal party members on each side, then yes, a wedding rehearsal is strongly recommended.
If a couple is doing their own wedding rehearsal, I generally arrive about 45 minutes early and review the important parts with the bride and groom (they can remain traditional and not see each other), bridal party, and parents of the bride and groom.
The wedding officiants I have observed conducting rehearsals seem to leave out the two most important parts, ensuring the guests have a great show, and ensuring couples have great wedding pictures.
Yes, you are getting married in your official wedding ceremony, but your guests are looking at it as the big show. The bride and groom and the wedding party will stand tall, relaxed, confident, and move with grace and ease. All movements throughout the ceremony will be slow, synchronized, and mirror each other’s movements.
Keep in mind your wedding rehearsal is also a joyous social event. It is recommended that you allow up to 45 minutes for the rehearsal in order to accommodate any bridal party members who may arrive late.
Begin by determining where everyone will stand – the bride, groom, officiant, and bridal party. Line up all of your bridal party members, stand back, and see if you like both the position and the angle of each person. Do both sides mirror each other?
Bridal party members need to know precisely where they will split during the processional and where they will come together for the recessional. The bride and groom and the bridal member couples need to be at the same, mirrored location at the exact same time.
Once your bridal party knows where to stand, practice your recessional first, then the processional. If any members of the bridal party are not present, you can have a stand-in or provide a space for the missing person.
The officiant is there to help you through your ceremony. The officiant will speak softly to you during the ceremony as necessary to ensure your ceremony goes smoothly.
WHERE YOU BEGIN
The officiant and groom are in their ceremony positions up front. For bridal parties, there are generally two options. The groomsmen are up front or the groomsman walk in with the bridesmaids.
SEATING OF THE OF THE BRIDE’S AND GROOM’S PARENTS/GUARDIANS
The groom’s mother is escorted in and sits in the first chair from the center isle on the right. The mother of the bride is escorted in next and sits in the first chair on the left.
If walking in with a groomsman, the bridesmaid is on the left while the groomsman is on the right.
The bridal party enters beginning with the outermost bridesmaid and groomsman followed by the remaining bridesmaids and groomsmen and finally the maid/matron of honor and best man.
The bridesmaids and groomsman who walk in together split at a predetermined location.
The bridesmaids and groomsman enter in at appropriate intervals.
The bridal party can be placed in many arrangements. The most common arrangement is to have the bridal party members standing at a 45-degree angle to the bride and groom, each able to view the bride and groom.
RING BEARER and FLOWER GIRL
The ring bearer can walk in front of the flower girl or beside the flower girl.
The bride is positioned on the left with her escort on her right. The escort and bride walk slowly towards the groom, stopping five feet from the groom.
After the welcoming, the officiant asks a question to the escort such as, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”
The escort responds, such as “I do”, “her mother and I”, “her family and I”.
If the bride has a veil, the escort lifts the veil.
The escort kisses the bride on her right cheek and shakes the right hand of the groom with his right hand. The escort takes the bride’s right wrist and hands her right hand to the groom’s left hand. The escort(s) take their seat.
BRIDE AND GROOM STANDING POSITIONS
The bride and groom step into their ceremony positions centered in front of the officiant. The bride and groom face each other for the duration of the ceremony.
The bride extends her right hand, and the groom holds it. Flowers are held with her left hand.
When it is time to say the vows, the officiant asks the bride to pass her flowers to the maid/matron of honor. The bride and groom hold both hands and then recite their vows.
The officiant asks for the rings before reading the ring prelude. The bride and groom hold the ring with the hand closest to the audience so the guests can see the rings being placed onto each finger.
When the bride and groom kiss, it is important that the kiss lasts long enough for two or three good pictures by the photographer.
After the kiss, the bride retrieves her flowers and holds them in her right hand. The bride and groom turn and face the audience, holding one hand. The officiant presents the couple.
After the presentment is made, wait for the music to start, wait for three additional seconds, and make your exit to the location you chose.
After the bride and groom exit, the flower girl and ring bearer follow along with the best man and maid/matron of honor and the remaining members of the wedding party. After the bridal party has exited, the bride’s parents and then groom’s parents exit.
CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR WEDDING!
We are pleased to offer these wedding ceremony rehearsal tips.