It's my job to tell you that you have to have a wedding rehearsal.

Even if it’s only 15 minutes long, do it.  Even if your wedding ceremony is only 10 minutes long, do it!  And especially do it if you are one of the many couples who are having a friend or family member officiate your wedding. 

Take the time to do a dry run so that you have fewer nerves on your wedding day.  Fewer nerves are key.  When I was getting married, my own rehearsal was so nerve-wracking.  I didn't know where to stand, how fast to walk, how to face Jen and so forth (and I'm a planner!)  Here are some tips for a successful rehearsal:

Who to invite:  The person marrying you, the wedding party, parents, grandparents and readers.  If possible, any musicians involved in the ceremony should also attend (and it's a great idea to go over together as a group).  Do not invite anyone not involved in the wedding to the rehearsal – they’ll be distracting.  This is not the time to be social! 

Who’s in charge: The person marrying you is in charge, unless you have a wedding planner (and even then, I often defer to the person marrying you, if that person is a Celebrant, Minister or someone else experienced in facilitating).  As a wedding planner, I take charge of the processional and recessional during the rehearsal. 

When to rehearse:
  Preferably the day before your wedding (I like late afternoon rehearsals).  Tell those who are invited to show up 15 minutes before you actually want it to start.  Rehearsals almost always start late because of lots of hugs and catching up with old friends. Some wedding ceremonies are super complex and it’s hard to catch up if you’re running late!

Where to rehearse:  If possible, rehearse at your ceremony site.  If that isn't available, I've been known to sneak into small hotel function rooms as a back up plan.  If not that, I've facilitated rehearsals in backyards, parks and anywhere else you can steal a clear space for half an hour.  But be sure to let all those coming know where it is! 

How to rehearse:  If possible, arrange to have the room at least partly set up for the rehearsal so the processional and recessional are accurate and so everyone will know where to stand.  If you are using a unity candle, Foundation Covenant or any other wedding rituals, have a table set up by the ceremony site.  If you are using a chuppah, it would be ideal to have this pre-set as well.  Actually walk through the processional and recessional so that your attendants know the proper speed and order.  No need to read through the readings or repeat the vows (lest they become anti-climactic on the important day...)

Do you have any other tips for a smooth wedding rehearsal?

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