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The Wedding Rehearsal - A Quick Reminder- Tweaked with Links

The Rehearsal

A year of planning! Pre marriage counseling, color combo's, custom monograms, flowers, favors, attire, hair, make up & music! All done and ready to go!
Now it's time for th rehearsal. You have met with your officiant and gone over the liturgy, readings, hymns, vows and the day is drawing near.
I have heard from many brides who think about opting out of having a rehearsal and all I can say is No, no no!
Do not skip a rehearsal. In my mind is is one of the most important yet under planned part of the process. More than just a bow bouquet and walking down the aisle, this rehearsal is all about logistics!
You may be thinking my officiant has done many weddings and he/she will let us know everything we need to do! Not always so. In our experience, many officiants take care of the liturgy and in some cases you officiant won't even come to rehearsal!
Thank the heavens if you have a ceremony site venue facilitator to help, if you do not, look into a rehearsal and day of coordinator to take control of the logistics from this point forward. Here is a light list with a few tips...

The Rehearsal Processional

The order of the processional will often depend on whether or not you are having a religious ceremony. The order differers from Christian, Catholic, Protestant & Jewish weddings among others. Get your guidance from your officiant and church facility. If you are having a non-religious ceremony you may assemble the processional in any way that suits you and your family.

It's an excellent idea to draw up a time line of when your wedding party is expected to be in a certain location and what their duties are and email them prior to the rehearsal and to have them on hand at the rehearsal.

A very very general and generally typical (Christian based) line up for processional would be (with music often changing/ pausing for each 'group')
Seating of the grandparents/parents:
  • Grandparents of the bride
  • Grandparents of the groom
  • Mother of the groom escorted by husband or ushered with husband following.
  • Mother of the bride, with escort/usher.
  • Candle lighters? (may also be the start, before the seatings)
The wedding party processional:
  • Bridesmaids, with or without groomsmen as escorts, maid of honor walking last with or without best man.
  • The men, after the seating of the parents, the officiant will come out from a side entrance, (sometimes down the main aisle depending on location set up) with the groom, and the best man.
  • If the groomsmen are not walking the bridesmaids up the aisle, then they will come out with, but after, the officiant groom and best man. If there are stairs up to the chancel (altar) area, it's nice to have the groomsmen escort the ladies up the stairs to their places.
  • Ring bearer and flower girl.
Music changes for the bride's processional: * At this time it is nice if the mothers and seated family of the bride and groom stand for the bride's processional, the officiant may also motion to the congregation and they will follow suit.
  • Bride escorted by her father (Will the bride walk alone down the aisle? How about having the groom walk halfway down the aisle to meet her and escort her the rest of the way?)
The recessional is opposite of course, but walk, don't run it isn't a race!

Some of the logistical/ planning reasons you need to rehearse:
  • Left side is the bride's side, right side is the groom's side.
  • Are you planning to have two men escorting one lady down the aisle? Have you checked to make sure the aisle is wide enough?
  • If a Groomsman is also escorting an family member in the processional? How will he and does he have time to join up with the other groomsmen/bridesmaids?
  • The line up & opening and closing of doors. So the whole congregation does not see the behind the scenes set up.
  • Face the officiant (with your backs to the congregation), one another or facing the officiant & the congregation during the ceremony (the officiant would have his/her back to the congregation) ?
  • Musical cues are key! This is often how a wedding 'magically flows'. With prior & proper coordination it looks effortless.
  • Processional speed? (how slow, how fast to walk, one bridesmaid at a time or one then the next starts wen the other is halfway down)
  • Where to stand so it looks right and everyone has a view ( and not of your backs...sometimes we use markers)
  • Children Will they stand for the whole service or will they go and sit with their parents (yes!)?
  • Candle lighters, special moments, solo's, readings (practice these).
  • Handing off the bouquet (same for a bridesmaid who may be singing or reading, what does she do with her bouquet).
  • Join in the singing of this hymn (If the congregation is to join in a hymn, will the wedding party as well? Will they need hymnals? If they do, bookmark the page).
  • The rings. Who is carrying them?
  • Unity candle (if you are going to have a song sung or music played, time this out appropriately).
  • Signing of the documents/license, where & when?
  • Also, if you want to come out to a crowd, tossed petals or bubbles, how will this be done? (Logistics dear, think it out, talk it out with the venue facilitator and or your wedding planner).

Do a walk though of the facility so everyone know:

  • What doors to use. Sometimes a different one than the ones your guests will come though, what doors not to use.
  • Where the restrooms are.
  • Where to change.
  • Where the nearest stores are in case of any kind of emergency situation.
  • Where any gifts are to be placed.
  • Where everyone is supposed to be at a given time in their time line (what time to arrive, what time to be ready for hair and make up, what time to be available for boutonni√®res to be pinned, time for photographs and what time to be 'in place' on the big day).
The processional really is malleable! Unless you are having a very religious ceremony (then your Rev. Priest or Pastor will tell you exactly how it is done), you really have the option of adding, omitting and altering how you want the processional to flow. I would be wary of anyone other than your church tell you how it's done. These are all guides and this is just a small list. Every wedding is different, and yet the same... you'll need to modify your checklist yourself or with your planner/vendors for your wedding.
For the day of, make sure you have time lines for everyone and don't forget your day of emergency kit!

You Tube of wedding processionals to help you decide exactly how you want yours:

Colorado Sample Wedding Rehearsal: Officiate Tips
Rehearsal Outakes
A Catholic Wedding Processional
'Wedding Processional Demo'
A Jewish wedding Processional
Joanna & Gregg Hazlett Wedding - Processional
The Wedding Entrance

OC-Wedding Rehearsal
Wedding Rehearsal
- very well put together and cute!

Links to sites that have more info on the wedding processional:

ThinkWedding.Com has a nice page of advice here by Marilyn Woodman
. advice! a nice collection of information.
Happy planning!

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