In my many interviews with brides and grooms I often discover that they have booked the date, the venue and just about everyone else… then they book the wedding officiant or minister last… but they have also failed to book the rehearsal.
For those of us who are very busy with wedding ceremonies (for me, about 75 wedding ceremonies each year), you also need to remember to schedule the wedding rehearsal at the time you book the wedding venue. Some venues, however, do not like to book the rehearsal very far in advance because there is always the possibility that they could book a wedding on that date. For the venues and for me too, weddings are always booked before rehearsals.
NOTE: When interviewing your wedding officiant or minister, be sure to ask if attending the rehearsal is included in their fee. I do not charge extra for attending the wedding rehearsal, however some wedding officiants and ministers do.
You are encouraged to plan the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner two days before the wedding (instead of the day before the wedding) to give you time to work out all the details, to do things that you may have forgotten and to have time for all to recover from the rehearsal dinner. It’s never a good idea to come to the wedding with a hangover. 😉
HOT TIP: Consider scheduling a Wednesday rehearsal for a Friday Wedding and a Thursday rehearsal for a Saturday wedding. This idea separates two stressful days and give you a day before the wedding to get last-minute things done. I do not schedule rehearsals on Fridays any later than 1:00 p.m. because Friday evenings are reserved for weddings only. My attendance at a Friday rehearsal for a Saturday wedding is subject to whether I have a Friday wedding scheduled. Most rehearsals should not take longer than 30 minutes (provided everyone arrives on time).
If some of the Bridal party are coming in from out-of-town and will not arrive in time for a rehearsal scheduled two days prior to the wedding, not to worry. If only one or two are not able to be there, have someone stand in for them at the rehearsal. Usually myself or the bridal consultant at the wedding venue can lead those not present for a rehearsal through the process on the day of the wedding. If, for any reason, I am unable to attend the rehearsal, I will schedule an early arrival the day of the wedding to coach those not present at the rehearsal through the necessary steps. I always arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the wedding.
Your wedding rehearsal is really only for the people who are in your wedding party and the bride and groom’s parents. Of course, you can invite anyone you choose. During your wedding rehearsal, your officiant, your wedding consultant (if any) or the coordinator at the venue will guide you through the ceremony and explain everyone’s roles. My part of the rehearsal usually takes less than 10 minutes to hit the high points of the ceremony – those places where the bride and groom have to say something.
Four Quick Tips for those in the wedding party:
1. Don’t lock your knees! Have you have every watched those funny TV shows where you see someone in the wedding party passing out? Here is what happens. IF you are a little nervous, your heart is beating faster (that’s normal at a wedding) and you lock your knees, you slow down the circulation of blood to your brain. Your brain needs that extra oxygen to help you maintain your equilibrium. So… do not lock your knees.
2. Remember to breathe! Regardless of whether it’s your first or second marriage most brides and grooms are a little nervous and some become emotional. This tip will help you calm down. Breathe in through you nose and out through your mouth. Why? Because we usually breathe in and out through our nose and when you have to THINK about breathing another way it short-circuits your brain and actually has a calming effect.
3. Have something to eat before the wedding! Put something in your tummy before you walk down the aisle. Crackers, cheese and a Pepsi are better than nothing.
4. Don’t worry about making a mistake during the wedding! Why? Because the guests do not know what we are going to do. If you make a mistake, don’t call attention to it. I’ve had rehearsal go one way and the actual wedding go another, however the guests were totally unaware of the mistake.
IMPORTANT: Remember to provide the venue wedding coordinator (and the Wedding Consultant/Planner) at your wedding venue ALL the details of the rehearsal BEFORE the rehearsal NOT at the rehearsal. Example: Names of Groomsmen, Bridesmaids, who seats the parents and grandparents, are the guys walking up first or will the Groomsmen walk with the Bridesmaids, names of the ushers (if any), etc. This will help make your rehearsal go much smoother and a lot less time consuming. Most brides wait until the rehearsal to begin telling the venue wedding coordinator the names of those in the wedding party. Telling them in advance saves about 15 to 20 minutes at the actual rehearsal.
I give the brides and grooms a “Wedding Party List” for them to complete and send to me and the venue wedding coordinator two weeks before the rehearsal. It is a complete list of everyone in the wedding party, including the names and both parents, grandparents, ushers, etc. The venues love it because when everyone arrives for the rehearsal all they have to do is to call out names and line everyone up.
If you don’t send a list 2 weeks before the rehearsal, either call the coordinator with the names or better yet, send e-mail a day or two before the rehearsal. A well-coordinated rehearsal should not take longer than 30 minutes provided everyone arrives on time. Please encourage those who will be in the wedding party to be on time. That is important to me because I will often have more than one rehearsal in a day.
Once you’ve taken care of the rehearsal business, it’s time to celebrate! Get your wedding party together, along with any other special guests and head off to your rehearsal dinner party – your time to unwind before the big day. The rehearsal dinner should be more intimate than the reception. It is a celebration usually reserved for the couple’s closest friends, relations and the wedding officiant.
NOTE: The best wedding officiants are usually very busy and book weddings anywhere from 6 months to 1 1/2 years in advance. It is also wise to book the wedding officiant right after you book the wedding venue if you want the best. Each year I have to turn down many requests for my “romantic” wedding ceremony because the bride and groom waited until the last minute to book the wedding officiant.
Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. This information is adapted from Larry’s Wedding Website and Wedding Blog. Larry James is a non-denominational minister and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: Cell: 480-205-3694. You will find more than 475 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Check Larry’s availability.
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