The Wedding Rehearsal

The formality of your wedding rehearsal is completely up to you. However, it is a good idea to make your guests as comfortable as possible, since they may not know each other. The wedding rehearsal is a great opportunity to work out any kinks in the ceremony, and it will also help you feel a little less nervous about the actual ceremony. Do as many walk-throughs as you need to until you feel comfortable that everyone knows where to be and when. Also, the rehearsal is a good time to hand out lists of duties to the attendants of the ceremony.

During the rehearsal, the officiant of the ceremony will show everyone where to stand during the ceremony, and then they will be shown where they will enter and exit. They will practice entering and leaving the room for the processional and recessional. An organist or other musician should attend the rehearsal so that your attendants will be able to recognize cues in the music.

The processional line is formed in order of appearance, which will be:

  1. Ushers
  2. Bridesmaids
  3. Maid of honor
  4. Ring bearer and flower girl
  5. Bride and father

The timing of each person’s entrance and the pace of the walk will be determined. Timing is usually established by the distance that you want between each person, and also by the music. Timing is especially important if you want pictures to be taken during the processional. Unless yours is an especially solemn ceremony, the processional is a great time to take pictures, because no flowers have wilted, and hair and makeup will still be flawless.

When the bride enters the room, she should walk on her father’s right, or on the right side of whoever is escorting her. When she arrives at the area where the ceremony will take place, she will let go of her father’s arm and move her bouquet to her left hand. She should then wait to be given away if that is required. Otherwise, she should take her place and her father should take his seat. If someone else is also giving the bride away, that person should stand and speak in concert with the father/escort.

Vows that require a response from the bride and groom will be repeated several times during the rehearsal -- that way neither the bride nor the groom will miss their cue during the ceremony. Going through these vows will definitely calm the participants down a little on the day of the wedding, because they can confidently enter the room, take their places, and execute their responsibilities.

The rehearsal dinner is a great time to hand out printed lists of duties for the attendants. They need to know what is expected of them, and when they are “on call.” Here are sample lists of the common duties for traditional attendants. Obviously, if the best man is a woman, she will not help the groom dress, so adjust the duties to accommodate your wedding party.

The Best Man is expected to:

  • Help the groom dress
  • Get the clergyperson’s fee in a plain envelope from the groom and deliver it to clergyperson on the day of the wedding
  • Remind the groom of the marriage license, airline tickets, luggage, traveling clothes, etc..
  • Sign the marriage license as a witness
  • Keep the groom calm
  • Carry the ring in a coat pocket
  • Take the groom’s gloves during the ceremony, if he has any
  • Offer the first toast at the rehearsal dinner and the reception
  • Hide the going-away car
  • Help the bride and groom escape after the reception
  • Return the groom’s clothes to his house or the rental store

The Maid or Matron of Honor should:

  • Sign the marriage license as a witness
  • Help the bride with her gloves, train, veil, flowers, etc. during the ceremony
  • Hold the groom’s wedding band until it is requested
  • Greet guests in the receiving line

Ushers are responsible for:

  • Lighting the aisle candelabra 15 minutes before the ceremony
  • Seating guests
  • Taking down pew ribbons as the pews are needed
  • Putting the aisle runner in position and removing it after the ceremony
  • Participating in the processional and recessional
  • Escorting the bride’s and groom’s parents out, then dismissing one aisle at a time after the ceremony
  • Dancing with the bride and bridesmaids
  • Bridesmaids
  • Help the bride with errands
  • Participate in the processional and recessional
  • Greet guests in the receiving line

The wedding rehearsal is primarily that, a rehearsal. As with any other rehearsal, all the participants should pay close attention to their directions, and they should ask questions as needed. Working all the kinks out during the rehearsal will make your wedding ceremony proceed smoothly.