Wedding rehearsal: Aisle with white flowers and chairs

Most performers don’t jump straight into a live show. They practice and get their bearings at a rehearsal. The same is true for weddings. A wedding rehearsal can help prepare you for the real ceremony while giving you an exciting glimpse at what’s to come. To help you prep like a pro, here’s everything you need to know for your wedding rehearsal. 

What Is a Wedding Rehearsal? 

This is one wedding term that makes a lot of sense. Your wedding rehearsal is simply a run-through of the ceremony ahead of the big day. It’s also a lot shorter than the real ceremony — in most instances, you can expect to practice everything a few times in about half an hour. 

Most couples opt to hold their wedding rehearsal the day before the wedding. What follows is often a wedding rehearsal dinner, a meal that gives the wedding party and families a chance to get together before the celebration. 

Who Usually Attends a Wedding Rehearsal?

It goes without saying that you and your partner will be there — it’s not much of a wedding rehearsal without you two! Apart from that, you don’t need to invite your whole guest list. Wedding rehearsals are usually kept small. 

You’ll also need your wedding officiant to attend, along with a coordinator from the venue. If you have your own wedding planner, make sure they attend. If you’re having a small, informal wedding, it might just be a few of you at the rehearsal. However, if you have a maid of honor, bridesmaids, best man, groomsmen, or other wedding party members, you’ll want them at the rehearsal.

Who Leads a Wedding Rehearsal? 

Typically, the wedding coordinator from your venue will lead the rehearsal. They’ll have done this a thousand times before and be a pro at it. They’ll walk you and your party through the whole ceremony until you’re comfortable with it. 

If you’re going the DIY route, a close family member or friend is the perfect option to lead your rehearsal. You’ll want to choose someone who’s assertive enough to direct people. It can be tough getting everyone on the same page, but you’ll know the best person for the job. 

Why Is Having a Wedding Rehearsal Such a Great Idea?

Wedding rehearsal: Hallway with flower stand and candles

Your wedding day is one of the most momentous occasions in your life. It’s a time to gather your loved ones to witness and celebrate the two of you joining your lives together. It’s a joyous moment, but it can also feel a little overwhelming, which is why giving yourself time to practice is a great idea.

Here are several reasons why a wedding rehearsal is a must for most couples: 

You’ll Familiarize Everyone With the Ceremony Site

Some places you know like the back of your hands. Your wedding venue is often a very different matter though — especially for your family, groomsmen, or bridal party who might be stepping foot there for the first time. 

Even if you’ve visited the venue before, it’ll look slightly different set up for your wedding with the seating arrangements and decor in place. 

Your wedding rehearsal gives you the perfect opportunity to introduce the space to everyone. You can get a feel for where you’ll be walking, where your wedding party will stand, and even the best way to reach the venue. It’s a good idea to get comfortable with the space before the ceremony so you can feel confident about what to expect. 

Everyone Will Know What to Do and Where to Be 

Maybe you’ve been to hundreds of weddings, or maybe your only experience is through watching wedding movies. While you can get some idea of where everyone should be, nothing compares to practicing your own wedding ceremony. 

At the wedding rehearsal, you’ll walk through every aspect of the ceremony. You’ll determine how to organize your wedding processional, how much time to allow between people walking down the aisle, and where to stand during the vow exchange. 

Running through the entire ceremony is especially useful for your wedding party and both sets of parents. Instead of walking in at the wrong time or taking a seat anywhere, they’ll know exactly where to be and when. If you have children in your ceremony acting as a flower girl or ring bearer, this run-through is even more important. 

You Can Identify Any Potential Issues Ahead of the Ceremony

Wedding planning is intense (even if you have a wedding planner) and there’s so much ground to cover. As such, it’s not uncommon to miss something about the ceremony — even if it’s a tiny detail. Your wedding rehearsal gives you the chance to walk through everything and catch any details you might’ve missed. 

Maybe you realize that you need to configure your wedding party pairings, or that you want your flower girl or ring bearer to enter directly in front of you. You might realize that you haven’t picked out any music for your recessional yet, or that you can’t exit the room in the way you envisioned.

These details are hard to pick up on paper, but they’re easy to spot in person. Having your team and the wedding coordinator with you at the rehearsal also helps, as they’re likely to notice something that you might not have even considered throughout your wedding planning. 

How To Structure Your Wedding Rehearsal

Garden wedding aisle with pink and white motif

Your wedding rehearsal is a chance to run through your ceremony from start to finish, sort out last-minute details, and take note of any elements you might otherwise have missed. Here are our recommendations on how to structure your rehearsal: 

Start With Where Everyone Will Be Standing 

Your wedding party and family will likely stay in one place throughout most of the ceremony, so get this sorted first. Walk into the space and figure out where everyone will stand during the ceremony, and keep moving them around until you’re happy with how it looks and feels. 

Practice the Processional

Next, you’ll want to practice the grand entrance. Make sure you know which order everyone will be walking in, and how much space to leave between you. Count out the steps or set a mental marker for a point down the aisle if that helps. 

This bit might take some tweaking until you’re happy with it. It’s completely OK to change things up at this stage and reorder the way you enter the ceremony venue. It’s much better to do this at your rehearsal than on the day itself. 

Run Through the Order of the Ceremony

Once your wedding party and family are seated or standing in the right place, jump into practicing your ceremony order. 

Run through the entire ceremony in brief, including the ring exchange, and end with the presentation of you as a couple or the first kiss. You don’t need to say your vows in full or practice speeches, but it will help to move into position so you know where to be when it happens.

If you have a lot of time, or someone in your party is nervous about speaking, you could run through these in full. It might give them that extra spark of confidence, and they’ll be able to get a feel for how loud they’ll need to speak for everyone to hear. 

End With Your Recessional

After the last moments of your ceremony, it’s time to perfect the recessional. This can be just as big of a moment as your first steps into the room, so make it count. 

You’ll most likely want to repeat the processional order but in reverse, with you and your partner leading the way out as you make your way to the wedding reception. As with the processional, make sure you leave plenty of space between each pairing of your wedding party. Not only does this mean nobody stumbles over dresses, but it helps you get those all-important photos. 

Repeat as Necessary 

You’ll probably need to run through your wedding ceremony several times. Take the time necessary to feel comfortable, confident, and happy about how everything looks and feels. 

Most ceremony rehearsals last about 30 minutes, but if you want more time you can always book this with your officiant and wedding venue coordinator. After all, practice makes perfect. 

Ace Your Wedding Rehearsal for a Polished Ceremony 

Your wedding day is a big moment (even if you’re planning a small wedding), so it makes a lot of sense to rehearse before you have an audience of adoring fans. Assemble your team, run through the ceremony order, and keep practicing until you’re happy. When you’re done, head out for dinner with your loved ones and relax before your big day. It will certainly be one to remember.