Authored by: Jim Emerson
January 7, 2019

Most of the planning is done, your day-of schedule almost finalized, and you’re short on time. Just the standard situation when planning a wedding!

One of the questions asked most often by couples is, “Do we need a rehearsal?”. The answer is both yes and no.  Yes, if you want one, but wedding rehearsals are not for everyone. There is no hard and fast rule that suggests you must have a wedding rehearsal, as there are reasons both for and against. Here are some things we think you should consider when deciding if you need a rehearsal.

If your wedding is small, with few or no wedding attendants, and doesn’t include any cultural traditions or special readings, you don’t need a rehearsal. Save the cost of a rehearsal and put it towards your honeymoon.

On the other hand, if you are having a large wedding party with several bridesmaids and groomsmen, setting aside 45-60 minutes a few days day before the wedding would be advisable. If children and parents are involved, and/or a special reading by a guest, and possibly a cultural element, then a rehearsal will help remove any last-minute uncertainties, calm nerves and help put things into perspective.

A rehearsal will also give your wedding party an opportunity to see the venue for probably the first time. Now is when they can practice how and where to enter, where to stand and establish the right pace – not so slow that your guests fall asleep during the processional or so fast that the wedding party is seen sprinting to the front. In addition, if the terrain is unlevel, or there are several steps, a test run is a good idea.

Rehearsals are all about the logistics, the flow of your ceremony, not about the words to be spoken. For a wedding ceremony to run smoothly, everyone involved needs to know in advance what is expected of them and what they can expect. Where and when to gather for the processional, in what order to enter and with whom, what is their cue to enter and with what musical selection, and where to sit or stand. Without clear direction, this part of the ceremony alone can be chaotic.

If you choose to do a rehearsal, you need to decide who will lead it and who should attend. Afterall, not every cousin, uncle or aunt needs to be present – especially if they’re not directly involved in the ceremony. Usually, the best one to lead the rehearsal is the person who helped you create your ceremony – your Officiant. Granted the venue coordinator or your wedding planner may be more familiar with the physical layout of the venue, but they will not be familiar with the specific aspects of your ceremony – the most important part of your celebration. Your Officiant will go over all the details, large and small, that are so important to ensure that your ceremony flows and you get the best photo memories of your ceremony. Your Officiant will also make sure that if some of your wedding party couldn’t make the rehearsal, they are aware of their role.

So, if you chose to have your Officiant lead your rehearsal, make sure you ask him/her well in advance to ensure they are available.

Rehearsals can be a fun addition to your wedding celebration for you as well as for your wedding party and if it gives you peace of mind, do it.  It is, after all, your wedding day.

About the Author: Jim Emerson
Jim Emerson has helped over 1,100 couples reduce the stress of creating their personal and unique wedding ceremony. He is a husband, father, friend, author, triathlete, handyman, teacher and passionate about his family and work. Jim can help you imagine, create and celebrate your dream wedding ceremony. Contact him today, he’d love to hear from you.