You may be thinking “Why do we need a rehearsal? We know how to walk". But, a wedding rehearsal is so much more than walking down the aisle - which you do need to practice by the way! It’s a time to shake off wedding jitters, confirm any uncertainties about the ceremony and help the whole wedding party feel confident on your wedding day.
1. Confirm elements of the procession:
We highly suggest our couples confirm the order of their procession prior to the rehearsal to make the process go more smoothly, however, things can be tweaked on rehearsal day if needed. A few things to keep in mind when creating the procession order:
For reference, the traditional procession order is:
Parent(s) of the groom, mother of the bride, groom, groomsmen & bridesmaids, Best Man & Maid of Honour, ring bearer, flower girl, bride & father/ parent(s)
The groom has lots of options! He can already be standing at the front, he can walk down the aisle alone after his parents or he can walk in with his parents
If your wedding party will be standing during the ceremony, consider having the bridesmaids and groomsmen stand in an aesthetically pleasing order (tallest to shortest or vice versa) - excluding MOH and BM
The 1st person/people in the wedding party that walk down the aisle will stand the furthest from you when they reach the front of the aisle
Typically, the MOH and Best Man are the last of the wedding party to walk, followed by the ring bearer and/ or flower girl
The order of your procession is of course customizable to you. Don’t feel trapped by the traditional order- make it perfect for you!
2. Walking down the aisle:
It’s kinda like choreography! Walk as you typically would, but adjust your pace - not too fast and not too slow. Don’t step together and pause, step together and pause - as this will look robotic and unnatural. For the bridal party: a general timing is to wait until the person/people before you is approximately halfway down the aisle before you start walking. However, this is one of the things that will be practiced at your rehearsal. Plus, if there is a wedding planner, they will typically cue you on the day of as well. Once you’re down the aisle, practice how you will be getting to your respective spots: standing at the altar or sitting in the front rows.
Photo Credit: SDE , Beautiful Life Studios, Nicole Johnson Photo, Mango Studios
Ladies: How to hold your bouquets: shoulders back, hands just below your belly button and tip the flowers forward. If you are walking with someone, practice weaving your arm through theirs. And don’t forget to practice walking in your wedding shoes!
Gentlemen: Focus on your arm/ hand placement. Whether you are walking alone or with someone, keep your shoulders back and your arms still. Keep the top button of your suits done up and pockets should be empty (except the Best Man- you sir, should have the rings). When the guys stand at the front, coordinate your hands - left hand over right or right hand over left - either way ensure you are all standing in the same position.
Photo Credit: Paramount Focus and Frame of Mind
If the bride/groom is walking down the aisle with someone, practice how you want to hand them off to their partner at the altar (hug or kiss each).
Don’t forget to smile - you’re on camera!
3. MOH duties:
A reminder to all Maid of Honours out there, there is a lot to be done during the ceremony so always have your eyes on the bride! The rehearsal is always a great way to practice how you will be helping the bride on her big day. After she walks up to the altar and is handed to her partner, that is your cue to take her bouquet and fluff her dress and veil. When there is any movement throughout the ceremony causing her skirt to move that is your cue to fluff again. Finally, after they are announced for the first time as a married couple, that’s your cue to hand her bouquet back for the recession, discreetly.
(Quick tip: hide tissues in your bouquet if you know the bride and or groom are criers!)
Time to do a quick reminder: who will have the rings in the morning, who will be responsible for bringing them to the ceremony, when are the rings going to be presented during the ceremony, and how to put them on? Practice handing them over, how to hold your partner’s hand for the best visuals and placing them on each other’s fingers. (It may seem silly to practice but it will shake off any nerves and ensure that the ring exchange is a smooth process on the big day)
5. Run through the ceremony
Your officiant will walk through their process and the order of events. Rehearse the whole ceremony as though it is your wedding day including sitting or standing, song changes, any religious readings, when to sign, etc. But don't feel like you have to memorize everything, your officiant is there to guide and cue you on the day of, in case any steps are forgotten!
6. Announce the married couple
How would you like your officiant to announce you as a newly married couple? Practice a few versions to decide what sounds right to you!
7. The big kiss
This is your moment to politely remind your officiant to move out of the photo for your first kiss! Allow enough time during the kiss for pictures (i.e. practice elongating your kiss or go in for a second one). If you want to do a dramatic kiss - for example dipping your partner - remember to practice not only at the rehearsal, but at home as well because it will only be more difficult to execute with a bouquet, wedding dress and suit!
8. Recessional (aka time to walk back down the aisle)
Just as you have to practice walking down the aisle (processional), after the big kiss it's time to walk back up the aisle- just in the opposite order! The newly married couple walks first (quick tip: couple should stop halfway through the aisle for a second picture and a kiss) and once they are at the end of the aisle and out of view, it’s time for the bridal party to walk, starting with Best Man and Maid of Honour.
9. Finalize any undecided ceremony elements
Where will your guests of honour sit (parents and grandparents), how many seats per row and how many rows need to be reserved? Who will reserve them, and which side of the aisle will families sit? Will you be following the trend of having your family sit on the opposite side of the aisle so they can see your face? Or do you prefer the traditional seating where parents sit on the same side that their child is standing?
10. Last-minute reminders with the wedding party
This is your time to have a little chat with your wedding party and give any reminders they may need- what time they need to arrive in the morning, order of hair and makeup, what they need to bring, etc.