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WEDDING REHEARSAL GUIDELINES

Your wedding rehearsal should be a quick, easy, and straightforward process. If your ceremony venue doesn’t provide a coordinator or if you have not hired a planner, you should choose a friend or family member to help you.   If you prefer the celebrant may run the rehearsal for you for an additional fee.   

Take with you a copy of your finalized ceremony

At the rehearsal, you are not practicing the ceremony itself – you are only practicing walking in and walking out, and making sure everyone knows where to stand. You want the same person who is running the rehearsal to be in charge of the processional  on your wedding day as well – that continuity will really help ensure that there isn’t any confusion on your big day. 

Processional (first to last)

1. Guests are seated

2. Officiant (he/she can be standing or be part of the processional)

3.Grandparents

4. Groom (with his mother, parents or best Man)

5. Groomsmen (in single file or paired with bridesmaids)

6.Bridesmaids (in single file or paired with groomsman)

7.. Ring Bearer

9..Flower Girl

09. Bride and her Escort (Father, Mother, both parents ).

 

Recessional (first to last)

1. Bride & Groom

2. Maid of Honor & Best Men

3. Bridesmaids with Groomsmen (paired)

4. Flower Girl and Ring Bearer (if they are there)

5. Parents of the Bride (and stepparents)

6. Parents of the Groom (and stepparents)

7. Grandparents

8. Officiant

9. Guests


1. Start by placing each participant of the wedding party in their places according to the chart or in the order of your preference. 

It’s important to have your wedding party evenly spaced and standing at a slight angle in relation to your wedding guests, with the attendants at each end a little more forward than the Maid of Honor and Best Man. This looks better for pictures, and helps the guests see each person in your wedding party better. If you have a Ring Bearer and/or Flower Girl  I suggest they sit  with their parents or a designated person after the processional.


2.Practice walking out (the recessional)

Since you have everyone in place already, practice the recessional as if the ceremony has just ended and you are walking out. Start with the kiss and/or the presentation of the couple, and exit in the proper order. The Maid of Honor will hand the bouquet to the Bride and Bride and Groom exit. Typically, the wedding party will exit in pairs even if they enter separately, followed by the Flower Girl and Ring Bearer (if they are still around) and then the parents and grandparents. It’s important to make sure that each couple that exits the ceremony leaves enough room between themselves and the couple in front of them. To do this, everyone should agree on a set distance they will wait for before walking. Most people choose to start walking when the couple in front of them is halfway back up the aisle. In general, it’s best to leave at least 20 feet between each couple for the sake of pictures, but not much more than that. Once everyone has successfully exited the ceremony, it’s finally time to practice walking in.

3. Practice the processional last.

Now that everyone knows where to stand when they enter the ceremony, practicing the entrance should be a piece of cake. Line everyone up in the order they will enter according to the table above. Everyone needs to be spaced evenly. As with the recessional, it’s important to agree upon how much space to leave between people entering the ceremony – normally about 20-30 feet. The Bride and her escort (typically the Father of the Bride) should not enter until the entire wedding party has entered and is in place. Normally, there is a separate piece of music for the Bride’s processional, and the officiant will usually say “Please rise to greet the bride” in order to invite your guests to stand.

4. Read only the headings of the ceremony.

a. The hand-off. Practice  what happens when the Bride and her escort make it to the front of the ceremony and are standing at the the first row of seats.  If the escort is a parent of the Bride they should give her a kiss and congratulate her.   The officiant asks: "Who presents the bride to be married to the groom? The escort answers. The groom will leave the officiant’s side and walk to receive his bride. The groom shake’s the escort hand and receive her hand. They walk and stand in front of the officiant. The bride hands her bouquet to the Maid of Honor, and the escort moves to where he/she will be seated. The Bride and Groom should then be standing facing one another, holding hands in front of the Celebrant. At this point, the Maid of Honor can hand off both sets of flowers to one of the Bridesmaids and fix the Bride’s train, if necessary.

b. The Ceremony - Read through the headings aloud, so everyone knows roughly the order of the ceremony. Don’t read through the entire ceremony word-for-word or say the vows, save that excitement for your big day. Who will be handing the rings to the officiant? Remove from any container and place both rings on the officiant’s hand.  If you have a table for the rituals like sand ceremony, unity candle, wine ceremony, etc. walk around as you should always be facing your guests. 

5. Do it again. Now that everyone is in place, practice walking back out and back in one more time to make sure everyone knows what to do, then you’re done! The rehearsal should not last more than 15/20 minutes.


Breaking With Tradition

We always tell our couples that there is no “right” way to do a wedding ceremony. We will not be at church or place of worship therefore we encourage them to create something that is a unique expression of their love. Traditions are wonderful, and many of our couples choose to perform a traditional ceremony – others choose to break with tradition and do something entirely different. We encourage you to listen to your heart and do what feels right for the two of you, whatever that may be.

Multi-Parent Escort 

Many of our couples choose to be escorted into the ceremony by multiple parents, instead of just by one. While the Father of the Bride traditionally escorts the Bride down the aisle, we often work with couples who have their mother and father, or father and step-father, walk them down the aisle together. This isn’t just limited to the Bride, we also have plenty of weddings where the Groom is also escorted into the ceremony by his parents. This is often seen in many Jewish and  interfaith ceremonies  as well.

Catholic (This is one option)

Celebrant enters first (sometimes he walks in from the side with the groom, other times he walks in down the aisle); Groom & Groomsmen enter from side ; Bride’s mother and an escort;Groom’s parents; Bridesmaids, Maid of Honor last; Flower Girl /Ring Bearer; Bride and Dad; Wedding Party is seated only the couple stands in front of the officiant.

Jewish Traditional Entrance 

For our Jewish and half-Jewish weddings, our couples sometimes opt for a traditional Jewish entrance to the wedding ceremony. In this variation, the Officiant enters first, followed by the Groom who is escorted by his parents. When the Groom and his parents reach the wedding canopy, or Chuppah, the Groom stands in the “standard” position but his parents stand under the Chuppah on the opposite side, so behind the Officiant’s right shoulder across from the Groom so they can see him. Next, the Bride enters, escorted by her parents, and they take the opposite positions, behind the Officiant’s left shoulder. Both sets of parents remain standing at the Chuppah for the entire ceremony.

Same-Sex  Ceremonies 

We work with the same-sex couples to create a processional that works for them. There are no specific rules to follow. The order for the processional and recessional may be completely different than the diagram we’ve provided, sometimes with the wedding party and couple entering together, or having no wedding party at all. We encourage all of our LGBT clients to be creative and work with their officiant to create something that fits their personality and vision for the ceremony.