Tips for Conducting a Ceremony Rehearsal

Ceremony & Vows, Etiquette
Groom at a Wedding Ceremony in Philadelphia

Photo: Lindsay Hite of Readyluck

Rehearsal dinners are commonplace for most brides and grooms, but the actual ceremony rehearsal? It doesn't happen as often as you would think — even though it's technically part of the rehearsal dinner! Traditionally, the couple, their officiant, and all members of the wedding (including ushers, readers, and musicians) gather at the ceremony site the day or night before the wedding to go through the basics and answer last-minute questions. The entire wedding party's significant others and out-of-town guests may be invited, as well. Some couples hold the rehearsal a few days before the wedding to not crowd the evening of the dinner, if time and attendance allows. Now that you know the basics, here are a few common etiquette questions and answers related to this wedding tradition!

Who plans and leads the rehearsal?
Your officiant (or clergymember) will do so. Whether they've handled many ceremonies or if this is their first one, they'll have the best idea of exactly where to stand, walk, and sit. In some cases, such as if a ceremony is simple and involves very few people or if it's in a public place such as a hotel, your clergymember may not schedule a rehearsal and instead give brief instructions to those involved before the ceremony begins.

Is it OK to make a changes or suggest new ideas during the rehearsal?
Generally, no — you should try to get that out of the way before this last-minute event. Time is short, everyone is excited, and a rehearsal is meant to calm and clarify, not confuse. Discuss ceremony ideas during your premarriage conference with your clergymember or officiant. Go over plans with bridesmaids, ushers, and honor attendants before the rehearsal to avoid upsets about assigned responsibilities at the altar (who stands next to each of you, who holds your bouquet, arranges your train, holds the bride's and groom's rings).

What should I use as a stand-in for my bouquet?
This is the time to use the clutch of gift-ribbon bows from your bridal shower! You and your honor attendant can practice passing it, as you will with your actual bouquet.

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