I’ve performed hundreds of wedding ceremonies, but have held only a handful of rehearsals. My overall guiding principle is that the bride needs to feel comfortable and confident that the ceremony will go well. When I do have a full rehearsal, it is for at least one of three good reasons.
I meet my brides and grooms at a local coffee shop about two to three months before the wedding date. By this time, they have figured out most of the big items for their on-location wedding and have considered the example ceremony I’ve sent them. We bounce around concepts and ideas to make their wedding ceremony work in the space and encompass the feeling they want. By the end, we have established a ceremony that they will enjoy experiencing.
In every meeting, I am asked about having a rehearsal. I agree that there should be a rehearsal for the couple to go over the details of the procession and the recession. They need to figure out how long the music needs to be for the bridal party and bride. The order of who enters needs to be considered, along with how everyone is placed on the stage.
I do not need to be at a rehearsal for this. The day of the wedding, I deliver upon the agreed order and wording of service. Once everyone has placed themselves on the stage, I guide them along the way during the wedding. There are three reasons I have found where my presence during the rehearsal is beneficial.
The ceremony is complicated. Some ceremonies contain many rituals. Others have many people walking around the stage during the ceremony. In these cases, some choreography of these movements is needed. I can provide the advice needed to make the ceremony run smoothly.
There are strong family opinions on the wedding ceremony. There are times when, despite best intentions, family dynamics get in the way. One side of the family wants different things than the other side. I can act as a neutral third-party mediator to resolve the issues for the couple. I focus on what the couple wants to happen.
The bride and groom are feeling really nervous. If at the end of our meeting, the couple is still nervous about it all, we will agree to a full run-through of the ceremony. By going through the whole thing, you are assured of the ceremony you want. This is a good point to emphasize. If you, as a bride, are feeling nervous for any reason about the ceremony, you should insist on a full rehearsal. Listen to your gut instinct and go for a full rehearsal with your minister or officiant there.
Identifying the reasons for a rehearsal has helped me work with couples in the lead-up to their wedding. You’ll need to decide what kind of rehearsal you need so that you can approach your ceremony with confidence and enjoy the moment.