Your wedding rehearsal is a pretty big moment. It is likely the first time you're seeing your wedding party all together, and excitement is probably running high. Before you rush off to that celebratory rehearsal dinner, though, you'll need to ensure your ceremony rehearsal runs smoothly. While your wedding planner, officiant or venue coordinator may be the one to direct the rehearsal, if you're going it alone, here's The Aisle Guide's breakdown on how exactly to run a wedding ceremony rehearsal.
(We know that couples come in all shapes and sizes but purely for simplicity’s sake, we are using “bride and groom” in this piece.)
Step 1: Introduce yourself to the group.
We know this sounds silly but it is easy to forget! Let the guests know that you will be leading them through the rehearsal, and ask for everyone’s attention. Your goal is to get through everything quickly so your group can be on its way to dinner, so you want to ensure people are paying attention and remain on-task.
Step 2: Line up the entire wedding party at the front of the ceremony site.
The bride, MOH, and bridesmaids should line up on the left, and the groom, BM, and groomsmen should line up on the right. Ask the officiant to stand in the middle.
Step 3: Practicing the recessional
(“Let’s hear it for Mr. + Mrs. XX!! Woooo!”) with Bride and Groom exiting down the aisle and to the back. When the couple is all the way to the end, ask the bridal party to start their exit. Begin with the Maid of Honor and the Best Man meeting at the entrance to the aisle and have them walk back, with each couple (bridesmaid and groomsman) following suit; the parents would be the last people to exit the ceremony sit . Tell the wedding party to space themselves out and give them the direction that it is their time to go when the couple in front is halfway through the rows of guests. It often works best if you partner yourself up with someone to demonstrate it before having them begin.
Instruct the group to stay in their pairings since you will be turning them right around to practice the processional.
Step 4: Practice the processional.
Reorder the couples (if necessary) to this order:
- Important guests
- Bridesmaid, Groomsman
- Maid of Honor, Best Man
- Flower Girls
- Bride, Father of the Bride
The officiant will walk down the aisle first or he or she may enter from stage right. Next, the important guests (Mother of the Bride, Grandparents, etc.) should walk or be escorted down the aisle and shown to their seats. When the groom enters, there are a few standard choices. It is customary for him to either walk down with his parents, with the officiant or to enter from stage right; do whatever makes most sense at the ceremony site. Situate the bridesmaids and groomsmen (paired up) in the order that corresponds with how close they will be standing to the bride and groom. The pair that is standing furthest from the bride and groom walks down the aisle first with the couple that will stand to their right following suit.
The Maid of Honor and Best Man are the last of the wedding party to walk down the aisle with the ringbearers and flower girls following behind. When the bride and Father of the Bride (or whomever is walking her down the aisle) reach the top of the aisle, father will shake hands/hug groom, then bride, then join their hands together before taking his take seat.
Step 5: Ask the Officiant to begin a practice run-through of the ceremony.
While often times officiants may not attend the rehearsal, if they are present, there may be certain portions of the ceremony that they'll want to run through. If you have a friend or family member officiating the ceremony, they'll likely want to run through the basics to be sure the ceremony goes off without a hitch.
Step 6: Run through the processional and recessional, one last time.
Repeat the recessional and processional if necessary or, as many times as needed.