Regardless of the size of your event, you should rehearse for your wedding day. The rehearsal is traditionally scheduled the day before the ceremony for any out-of-town guests to be available and in attendance. All those with an active role in your wedding ceremony should be present and participate in the rehearsal, including special readers and the officiant. This is where the entire wedding party will come together to go over all the fine details of your wedding day.
Announcements and Inventory for Your Wedding Day
The rehearsal is the last chance to deliver important announcements, go over the inventory of supplies and make sure you are prepared for the big day. Depending on the type of wedding ceremony and your unique customs, you might need to review a checklist for the unity candle, a sand ceremony or a broom jumping ceremony. You should create a list of roles and a chart to review with your entire wedding party. Explain to the bridesmaids, groomsmen and ushers their responsibilities and roles. Let the rehearsal be a rehearsal and tell them where to stand, what to do and when to do it. It is important that they recognize the importance of their position, and that you show your appreciation for them taking on a very important role in your wedding day.
Practice makes perfect, and practice you must. Get all the nerves out of the way and get comfortable going through the motions. Use props, such as a mock train and ribbon bouquet. This will give you the opportunity to practice turning with the train and handing off the bouquet to the maid of honor. You might want to practice certain ceremonial elements, like lighting the unity candle or pouring sand for a sand ceremony. This is a good opportunity for the officiant to practice directing your unique rituals and allow you to get comfortable working through a couple of practice runs. Practicing the ceremony can avoid embarrassing mistakes on your wedding day. If you will be customizing your ceremony, it will be important to get the attention of all in the wedding party for special instructions.
At the Wedding Arch on Your Wedding Day
There are important decisions to make and review prior to your wedding day. Think about who will lift and fold the bride’s veil back to reveal her face. Sometimes it is the bride’s father, but sometimes it is the groom. Decide who will hold the rings. Traditionally, the ring bearer or the best man have the responsibility of holding the rings during the ceremony. It is very important to practice handing over the rings to get comfortable. If you are counting on a young ring bearer, practice is a must.
The Processional and Recessional
The rehearsal is a time to prepare for the processional and recessional. Your wedding planner or coordinator should be present to help with the orientation process. It is a good idea to have the organist or musician present for the rehearsal so the wedding party can practice walking with the music. The wedding party should understand their order, position and pace. Traditionally, the bride is escorted down the aisle by her father and given away at the wedding arch. When this is done, the bride walks on the right side of her father. You might have a different plan that makes more sense for your wedding day. Sometimes, both parents escort the bride down the aisle. Think about the cadence of the walk and the spacing between the wedding party. The recessional requires less practice, but you might want to go through the motions to keep it organized.
Planning the Details of the Wedding Day
The finer details for the processional should be planned in advance, but must be reviewed and practiced during the rehearsal. The processional usually forms at the rear of the ceremony site. The order begins with the parents of the groom taking their seat in the front, followed by the entrance of the groom, best man and officiant. The groom and best man usually stand on the right side of the aisle, facing the guests. The best man stands to the groom’s left, slightly behind him. The wedding party should be organized according to height, with the shorter individuals in front. The processional forms with the groomsmen, junior groomsmen, junior bridesmaids, bridesmaids, maid of honor, flower girl, ring bearer, bride and her father, train bearers, and pages. Properly space the wedding party four to six paces between each individual or pair in the line. The recessional is formed in the reverse order as the processional.
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