How Complicated is the Rehearsal?
It’s not that hard. Except for the bride & groom, most wedding attendants have to know how to walk and stand. You can use this information to conduct a brief rehearsal with your wedding party, either at the site of the ceremony or at another location. None of this is what you have to do. You may want less formality. This information is simply to help keep things straight and assist you with a rehearsal if you feel you need one.
It is good, but not necessary, to do the rehearsal at the wedding site. It may be more valuable if there are children in the wedding party. Sometimes the requirements of the site do not make a rehearsal feasible. A rehearsal can be done in someone’s family room or living room.
Start your rehearsal by calling the entire wedding party together. Line them up in the order they will stand during the wedding ceremony. If you are missing one or several members of the wedding party at the rehearsal, don’t be overly concerned. Be sure as you line people up that you leave a space for each missing attendant. Ask those who are on either side of the missing attendant to clue him or her in on the day of the wedding. Those present will pay extra attention; those missing will get the word and you won’t have to worry about it.
The attendants stand on either side of the Officiant, facing the Bride and Groom. (If you were a guest, would you rather see faces or a row of backs?) Bride and Groom stand in front of Officiant / Minister. Ringbearers and/or Flower Girls stand in front of the adult attendants: if one Flower Girl, she stands in front of Maid/Matron of Honor; if two, in front of Maid of Honor and first Bridesmaid; etc. Ringbearer stands in front of Best Man.
Rehearse The Recessional First
Once everyone knows where they are to stand during the ceremony, practice the Recessional. Bride & Groom leave first, followed by any children in the wedding party (first flower girls, then ringbearers) then, Maid/Matron of Honor & Best Man, followed by pairs of Bridesmaids and Groomsmen. The “outside” pair would leave last.
After the wedding party has “recessed,” the immediate families should follow them: Bride’s parents first, then Groom’s parents, then Bride’s grandparents, then Groom’s grandparents.
Rehearsing The Processional
After practicing the Recessional, regroup to practice the Processional. By this time everyone knows where they are to stand, who they stand next to, etc.
Before the Processional, immediate family members are seated (usually parents and grandparents). If you are going to do formal seating, those family members to be especially ushered in at the last minute should remain in the “staging area” until everything and everyone is ready and all the other guests have been settled or seated. Assign specific ushers to escort specific family members. Introduce the usher/escorts to the family members each will be seating, to be sure the ushers know who each of them will be seating, and vice versa. The order of seating is usually
The Officiant / Minister can then “cue” the Processional music by bringing in the Groom and his attendants. The Officiant / Minister will go in first. The men follow, in order, with the Groom either first or last in the lineup. They go to their places and stand as you have already rehearsed. Be sure the music people can see the men and Officiant / Minister at the site of the ceremony.
When the men are in place, the Groom’s attendants are facing the Groom and the guests. The Groom should have his back to the Officiant / Minister, watching the aisle where the Bridesmaid(s) and Bride will enter. At this point the Processional music begins.
The Bride’s party will need to be ready and listening for their “cue” when the Officiant / Minister and the Groom and his party go to their places. When the Bride’s party hear the Processional music, they should begin the Processional. The last (outside) Bridesmaid enters first, followed by the other Bridesmaids, if any, at intervals of perhaps 20 feet; then the Maid of Honor. The Bride’s party should notice the placement of the Groomsmen, and “mirror” them. Ringbearer(s) and Flower Girl(s) come in next, and go to their places. Then the Bride comes in with her escort on her left. The Bride should wait until the all other members of the wedding party are in their places before even thinking about starting down the aisle. If you have arranged with the musicians to play a different processional piece for the Bride, wait for the music to change.
As the Bride approaches the front, the Groom may take several steps toward her and her escort and offer her his arm. The Groom is on the Bride’s right. The two of you then approach the Officiant / Minister, leaving the escort standing next to the row in which he will be seated; usually on the Bride’s side; front row.
If the escort is to answer some question posed by the Officiant / Minister, he should remain standing until that question is asked, answer the question and be seated. The usual options for his reply are “I do” or “Her Mother and I do” or “On behalf of her family, I do.”
If the escort is not to answer a question from the Officiant / Minister, he should be seated as soon as the Bride and Groom are standing before the Officiant / Minister.
Rehearsing The Ceremony
The rings should be either on the Ringbearer’s pillow or in the custody of the Best Man and Maid/Matron of Honor. If carried by the two “best people,” the Best Man should carry the Bride’s ring on his little finger, and the Maid of Honor should carry the Groom’s ring on her index finger or thumb. Don’t let the Best Man put the ring in any pocket. Don’t ave either one of them carry the ring in a bag or box. Pockets, bags & boxes increase the chances for dropping and/or losing the ring. Of every ten rings misplaced or lost at wedding time, eight have been lost by the Maid of Honor. She has a big ring you have asked her to put on her relatively small finger. For Maid of Honor and Best Man, have them put the ring on a finger, and then curl their fingers. Then the ring isn’t going anywhere.
If rings are on the Ringbearer’s pillow, the Best Man will remove them and give them to the Officiant / Minister one at a time with the Bride’s ring first; or deliver both at the same time, at the option of the Officiant / Minister.
The Bride and Groom face the Officiant / Minister for the initial portion of the ceremony, then face each other and join both hands for the vows and rings. If the Bride has not already given her flowers to her Maid/Matron of Honor, do it now before joining hands.
You will have worked out with the Officiant / Minister what you are to say during the wedding ceremony. Hopefully the Officiant / Minister will review this with you before the wedding starts. At the point of the Vows, you may simply respond to a question, or you may have decided to do a “repeat-after-me” statement with prompts from the Officiant / Minister.
For the exchange of rings, stop holding both hands, and change to holding each other’s left hand. Each will be asked to repeat after the Officiant / Minister as they place the ring on their partner’s hand. Rings never fit!! Don’t make too much of a struggle out of it. No one can see whether the ring has cleared the last knuckle or not. Don’t use oil or lotion, either. By the time you have to deal with the rings, it will just make things more difficult. As you face the Officiant / Minister again, you can wiggle the ring on your own finger more easily than your partner could.
After the exchange of rings, Bride and Groom continue to face the Officiant / Minister until the end of the ceremony. Then face each other for the kiss. The Bride then gets her flowers back from her Maid/Matron of Honor, and you both turn to face the guests. Before the Recessional music starts, however, the Officiant / Minister may formally present to the two of you to your guests if you have arranged for him or her to do this. Then the recessional music begins and the couple heads back up the aisle.