How to Have a Successful Wedding Rehearsal

They say practice makes perfect! And the fact is, a well-planned wedding rehearsal is key to a relaxed and smooth ceremony and reception.For the official word on what to do—and what not to do—we turned to Crystal Love, principal at Southern Hospitality Event Group, a boutique firm that specializes in bringing the best of Southern charm (and loads of attention to detail) to clients’ events. She coordinated my wedding and has organized events for Savannah College of Art and Design, The High Museum of Art, and groups from 25 to 3,000. She knows her stuff. According to Love, the rehearsal should be “relaxed but efficient,” with emphasis on step-by-step details. Here are her tips for a great wedding rehearsal.

1. Decide in advance who will lead the rehearsal. It could be your planner, officiant, or venue coordinator…or you and your sweetheart. But you’ll sleep easier knowing who’s the boss at this important event.

2. Everyone who will be participating in the wedding ceremony should attend, including the couple, their parents, the wedding party, the ceremony readers, officiant, musicians, and representatives from any vendors who are involved.

3. Even laid-back couples should create a wedding weekend timeline for everyone in this group. Apart from the official start times of wedding events, create and distribute a working day-of-wedding timeline so everyone will know what’s expected of them. Try to send it as early as possible, letting everyone know you’ll send a finalized version a few days before the wedding. We like Google Docs or Google Sheets for this; these apps allow everyone to easily access your schedule on their smartphones, and ensures everyone has the most up-to-date version.

4. Bring anything non-perishable with you to leave at the venue overnight. Things like programs, decorative fans, or a unity candle should be procured and ready to drop off. (This also means you should plan to have all DIY decor folded, gilded, and dried to the touch not one but two days before your ceremony if at all humanly possible. Trust us.)

5. Everyone should physically walk the ceremony space and be informed of the layout that will be in place on the wedding day. This includes the location of on-site parking or valet entrances, any pre-assigned ceremony or reception seating, and the placement of power outlets, staff kitchens, and on-site supplies.

TIP: Request a floor plan from the venue coordinator ahead of time and mark up copies for those in attendance. Encourage them to bring it on the big day to help point fellow guests in the proper direction when questions arise.

6. The wedding party should walk through the processional and recessional multiple times so that everyone is comfortable with what will happen on the wedding day.

7. If possible, allow live musicians to play the wedding party down the aisle (and tweak their volume and tempo levels properly) at the rehearsal.If you’re working with a DJ or an iPod, plan to run through it with whomever will be controlling the music.

8. Readers, singers, and anyone else using a mic should practice with it to ensure they have a good handle on how loud they need to be. The screech of microphone feedback is not the ideal way to start your vows.

9. Ask questions! If you’re wondering where to look when you’re saying your vows or how the officiant plans to introduce you as a newly-married couple, just ask. And let others ask questions too; from the grandparents’ seating preferences to the rain plan, Love says this is the time to handle all “what ifs” to avoid confusion on the big day.

10. Most venues only allow one hour for the rehearsal. Plan accordingly or request additional access (and be prepared to pay an hourly fee) if you need more prep time.

So, anything else? Says Love, “The only thing left for you to do at this point is to say ‘I do’…and be enjoying every second of it!”

 

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