Wedding rehearsals can be a real bother in some ways, and a saving grace in others. Yes, it can be difficult to get your wedding party assembled all in one location the night before your ceremony, especially if some of them are coming from other locations, need to work that day, or have other commitments. Yes, there may be questions of whether you need to provide a meal for them, overnight accommodations, or more. And yes, there are good reasons why you should definitely consider a wedding rehearsal!
During the wedding rehearsal you have the opportunity to find out if your vision for your perfect ceremony will actually work. Walking from your beginning location to the altar may in fact tell you that your processional music isn't long enough, for instance, to allow time for the entire wedding party to reach their locations at the altar. Having everyone know exactly where the wedding venue is can help assure everyone is on time for the ceremony. Addressing family relationship issues with who is being escorted by ushers and where are they being seated and by whom can be addressed. Walking through the ceremony with your wedding officiant also means that you can help those last minute nerves by knowing what's going to happen, in what order, how to deal with flowers in your hand when you're exchanging rings, and so much more.
Who runs/coordinates the wedding rehearsal can be another question for clarity.
Many photographers now create wedding day timelines for their clients. These timelines are great for helping the day to move at an acceptable pace for all in attendance, assuring your guests feel comfortable and you've set aside enough time for things such as makeup/hair appointments, getting dressed, guests to arrive by shuttle service, photos before and/or after the ceremony, and when cocktail hours and meals may be served.
If you're getting married at a professional venue, they may have someone on staff that coordinates setting up chairs, moving guests from one part of the venue to the other, and getting food set out at certain times. These professionals may also be in a position to guide you in a pinch.
Your wedding officiant is the best choice to run your wedding rehearsal. He or she is the only one who truly knows the nuts and bolts of what is being included in your actual ceremony, from start to finish. Your officiant knows who needs to be where and at what point in the service. Lining up your wedding party so that they are in the appropriate order to play their respective roles and knowing when parents, grandparents and guests of honor are seated is also part of your officiant's responsibilities. Your officiant knows how to best set up the altar for any additional parts to the ceremony you may be incorporating, such as a unity candle, tree planting or hand fasting. Your officiant also has the actual ceremony being used, and can walk you through it so you know what you need to say and when.
The wedding rehearsal also is a good time for you and the officiant to communicate about any last minute changes, such as unexpected guests of honor in attendance, a decision not to include personal vows in the ceremony, a change in weather, or young ones or pets that just may not be quite up to the task of carrying rings or flowers to the altar.
A seasoned professional officiant also knows alternative ways to accomplish outcomes if the need arises, and can offer last minute advice during a rehearsal. Oftentimes the officiant has performed other ceremonies at the same venue and can make suggestions based upon that prior experience.
When I coordinate a wedding rehearsal, I walk the wedding party through the ceremony twice so that we can answer everyone's questions and we all go home knowing what's happening the next day. I want you to be able to relax and enjoy your very special day with as little anxiety and unexpected moments as possible! I am also available to say grace at the rehearsal dinner as well, should my couple wish it.
Rev. Ronnie was ordained in 2010 as an interfaith minister through The New Seminary, located in New York City. She is available to perform ceremonies throughout the United States, aboard ship or in other countries.