The wedding rehearsal is key to a great wedding. If you prepare well, you can maintain a fun but focused rehearsal that the wedding party will enjoy and that will insure a more relaxed and successful wedding.

Ensure you and the bridal party are well-prepared for the wedding rehearsal

Make sure you get all of the wedding details from the couple a least one week before the rehearsal. Bring the completed Wedding Ceremony Final Plan. You should be very familiar with this document. Try to memorize the names of key people.

[Related: Wedding Ceremony Final Plan (pdf)]

Follow up with the couple to make sure anyone involved in the ceremony will be at the rehearsal venue at least 10 minutes early. This includes all bridesmaids and groomsmen, flower girls and ring bearers, the father of the bride, musicians, readers, anyone involved with media or music, and anyone else with a role in the ceremony. If the wedding venue does not have a wedding coordinator on staff, be sure to designate a wedding assistant to help with ceremony logistics. Anyone performing a song or reading should practice ahead of time, and should check with the wedding coordinator about any technology needs.

Arrive 15-20 minutes before the rehearsal to get to know the venue. Meet the wedding coordinator and any other pertinent staff, map out where people will stand during the ceremony, and figure out how the processional and recessional will be staged. Make sure you have any microphones in place.

Start the rehearsal with a short welcome and pep talk

Open with a brief welcome and introduction. Be warm and winsome. Tell them that you will run through the whole ceremony, but the whole process should only be around 30 minutes – if everyone is cooperative and focused. Encourage everyone to enjoy the moment, but to pay attention to detail and remember instructions.

Give the group two main ground rules for the upcoming ceremony.

  • The bride and groom have already carefully made their plans. If they wanted your advice, they would have already asked you. So please keep your ideas to yourself.
  • Tomorrow is all about the bride and groom, so let them enjoy it. You will be tempted to share everything that’s going wrong with them. Don’t! Let them live in ignorant bliss and take any problems to the wedding coordinator or pastor.

Then pray for the rehearsal, ceremony and couple.

Walk through the ceremony from middle, to end, to beginning

Start the actual rehearsal by placing everyone in the bridal party in the place where they will be standing during the ceremony (see the attached diagram). Stand in the center with the groom on your left. Have the bride stand with her father where they will stop after they walk in. Encourage everyone to note where they are standing.

[Related: Stage Diagram for Rehearsal]

Practice giving away the bride. Make sure the father knows his cue and has thought about the response he will give. Instruct the groom how to take the bride’s hand from her father and move to center stage.

Walk through the rest of the ceremony quickly. You don’t need to rehearse all the elements or say all the words. Just tell the group what happens next.

Next, have the bridal party practice the recessional. The bride and groom go first, then the members of the bridal party, in pairs, starting with those closest to the center. Coach them about how long to wait for the previous pair before they start down the aisle. Have them exit the ceremony area but stay paired off and in the proper order.

Then practice the processional, which is just the opposite of the recessional (except for the groom, who will be replaced by the bride’s father). Have the wedding coordinator or wedding assistant available to cue each member of the party when to start down the aisle. Make sure that someone works separately with any children involved to ensure they know what to do and when.

Once everyone is in place at the front, quickly talk through the ceremony one more time. Then practice the recessional and the processional one more time – with the music this time, if possible.

Close with encouragement and prayer

Have the bride and groom announce when and where everyone is supposed to arrive on the day of the ceremony. Remind them of the two ground rules above. Close in prayer.

You should clarify ahead of time whether you are invited to attend a rehearsal dinner. Expectations vary, but clarify in advance to avoid any awkwardness.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. Are there instances where a wedding rehearsal is not necessary? Explain.
  4. Review some of the elements of advance planning that make for a successful wedding rehearsal.
  5. What do the bride and groom need to do to make sure the rehearsal is successful?
  6. How can you work around it when certain members of the wedding party simply cannot make it to the rehearsal?
  7. Explain the two ground rules for the wedding party. Why are these helpful? Can you think of other ground rules that might be helpful?
  8. What is the value of starting the wedding rehearsal in the middle – with everyone in position for the wedding itself?
  9. What can you do to help the rehearsal be both fun and productive?
  10. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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