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What Happens at a Wedding Rehearsal?

A bride and her father walking down the aisle at the wedding in a church.

When you’re planning a wedding, so much goes into the actual big event that it can be easy to forget about additional events surrounding that day. For instance, a wedding rehearsal is something that happens in the days leading up to the actual wedding days. Before you exchange vows, this is a big part of ensuring that everything is ready to go on the day of. While you likely understand what a rehearsal dinner is, you might not have a solid understanding as to what will actually happen at your rehearsal itself. Below, we’re delving into what you can expect at your wedding rehearsal before you walk down the aisle for real!

Who Should Be There?

Three bridesmiads wearing blue dresses and holding white bouquets.

You may be surprised to learn that quite a few people should attend the wedding rehearsal. This is important to note since you want to give everyone ample notice about the date and time of the rehearsal so that they can be sure to attend. Having all the right people there will guarantee that everyone knows exactly what to do when it comes to the actual ceremony, reducing stress and anxiety as well as wedding day jitters!

Obviously, the bride, groom, and entire wedding party should be at the wedding rehearsal. That means the best man and maid of honor as well as all the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Any ushers should be there as well. Additionally, parents of the bride and groom should be present. Flower girls, junior bridesmaids, and ring bearers should also be in attendance, as well as their parents. Anyone else that will walk down the aisle should also be present—such as grandparents as well as their escorts, if they have one. Your officiant as well as wedding planner or coordinator are other individuals who should be at the rehearsal. Finally, anyone performing a reading who is not in the wedding party should be invited to the rehearsal.

What Is Practiced at a Wedding Rehearsal?

There are quite a few things that actually get sorted out and practiced at a wedding rehearsal to ensure that they do not become problems on the day-of.

Order of Procession

If you haven’t decided by the rehearsal the processional order for your wedding ceremony, this provides a good time to figure it out. There are several things to figure out here, such as whether or not the officiant will proceed down the aisle, whether groomsmen and bridesmaids will walk down the aisle together or separately, and who will actually walk the groom and bride down the aisle (if anyone). You should also decide the precise order of procession for the wedding party. The rehearsal presents the perfect time to go over this with everyone and ensure they have it down pat. This is also a good time to practice the pace people will walk down the aisle at and the spacing between individuals walking down the aisle so that the ceremony begins in a uniform fashion.

Where Everyone Will Sit

Similar to the processional order, the rehearsal is a good time to figure out and/or practice where everyone will sit for the ceremony. Honored guests, such as parents of the bride and groom as well as grandparents, will need to have assigned seats that they can go to after they walk down the aisle. The wedding party will also need seats, assuming that they will not be standing for the duration of the ceremony. This is something to decipher and communicate during the rehearsal.

Readers and Readings

The rehearsal is a good time for those performing readings at the ceremony to practice doing so before the big event. During this time, they’ll be shown where the reading will be conducted from and they’ll have a chance to run through the actual reading for good measure. These individuals should also be seated close to the front so they have easy access.

Order of Recession

A bride and groom heading out of their wedding ceremony at the beach.

Just like with the processional, you’ll want to practice and decipher the recessional order for the end of the ceremony. This will somewhat match the processional, except the newly married bride and groom will proceed out of the ceremony first. Then, the wedding party will likely come next, pairing up from either side and walking as couples. If you have an uneven wedding party, this is a good time to figure out how those “pairs” will go. After that, your parents and grandparents will proceed out as well. They will be followed by guests by row.

While it may seem like quite a bit of material is covered at a wedding rehearsal, they are typically quick and easy events. More importantly, they play a vital role in soothing everyone’s nerves leading up to the big day. Rehearsals simply take the guessing game out of the ins and outs of the ceremony for all the key players, making the wedding day run much smoother from the start!

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