There's no rule that says you must have a wedding rehearsal. If you have a small bridal party, and the ceremony does not include any wedding rituals or readings, then you can probably get away with not having a rehearsal. However, if your wedding is more formal—and especially if you have children participating in the ceremony, then I recommend you do one.
Personally, I’m a big fan of a walk-through. The main reason is that, without a doubt, they make everything run smoother on the day. It’s a great opportunity to tap into the knowledge and expertise of the celebrant. Having said that, I’ve done lots of weddings without a rehearsal for couples who felt they didn’t need one, and they worked out fine too.
Reasons to have a wedding Rehearsal
- It will ease your nerves on the wedding day.
- It will ease the nerves of the bridal party too. Yep. It’s not just the people getting married that get nervous. The bridal party often get anxious too. This might not be a factor if any of your bridal party have been in a wedding before.
- The photos will be better……guaranteed. Rehearsals are all about choreography, timing and positioning. These are key to good photos. Inches make all the difference. If the bridal party aren’t mindful of their positioning, all the photos can look off. And if a couple don’t stand in the middle of their arbour, it looks terrible in the photos. The celebrant will go over small but important details such as how high to hold the bouquets and whether the blokes are going to clasp their hands or leave them in their pockets.
- You’ll nail the entrance. A rehearsal is the time for figuring out when each flower girl, page boy and bridesmaid is going to walk and who will queue them in if they can’t hear the music. It can be a stressful doing this on the fly the day of the wedding without a rehearsal. You can practise the pace, not too fast and not too slow. If your father is walking you don’t the aisle, he probably won’t know what to do when he gets there. A rehearsal can give him guidance on which side to walk on, when to move and what to say so he doesn’t have to hover awkwardly.
- Working with children in the wedding can be difficult at the best of times. It’s quite likely that your flower girl or page boy will get stage fright and refuse to walk down the aisle with so many people staring at them. Your little ring bearer might refuse to come up when called. You can mitigate this by practising at the rehearsal.
- Every venue location is different and has it’s own considerations. It’s easier to make changes at the Rehearsal than on the wedding day. E.g decide when the musicians will set up, see if the sun will be shining directly in your eyes.
- Rehearsals are a great time to practice operating the music. Has the correct version of the song been downloaded? There might be more than one volume knob on the PA system to get to grips with. It’s also a good time to practise the fade!
- It’s a good time to sign the Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage (DONLIM) with your celebrant. This can be done on the day of the ceremony but do you really want to be signing a document after you get out of the car, before you walk down the aisle?
- It’s a good chance for the bridal party to get to know each other, if they haven’t already met. On a deeper level, it’s a bit of a bonding session for the group. Rehearsals, done well, should be a bit of fun.
Reasons NOT to have a Rehearsal
- If you are a cruisy kind of couple that take things in your stride then you might not need one. If you don’t care that things aren’t symmetrical in the photos or if the spacing between the bridesmaids isn’t exact, then the chances are, you will get away without having one. The celebrant, venue manager or wedding planner will be there to give you directions on the day.
- Not having a Rehearsal can add to the excitement and suspense on the day. You might actually find it more thrilling that you haven’t stepped through it all before and are experiencing everything for the first time.
- Having a Rehearsal just might not be very convenient. It’s fine if you are staying at the venue the night before, but if you are not, you might not want the hassle of trekking all the way out there for a 30 minute rehearsal. The day before a wedding you will have a lot of things to do. You might prefer to spend the time with out of town guests, getting your nails done, finishing your speech.
- Most celebrants charge for a Rehearsal to cover their time and travel to the venue. It might just be one extra expense that you don’t want to fork out for.
Tips if you decide it's a good idea to have a ceremony run-through
- If you are having live music at your wedding, you musicians more than likely won’t come to the rehearsal so it’s a good idea to download the songs to your phone to practice the walking in.
- You and your bridesmaids might want to practice walking in the shoes.
- Don’t rehearse your personal vows at the rehearsal. Practice them in private and then they’ll have the WOW factor on the day.
When and where should you have a wedding rehearsal?
Generally you’ll have the rehearsal the day before the wedding, either in the morning or the evening at the venue (because the venue and the celebrant will likely have another wedding in the afternoon of the day before).
You don’t have to have an on-site rehearsal. It might be more convenient to just have it a local park or in your back yard.
You don’t have to have it the day before the wedding. It might suit you better to have it the Sunday before or an evening that week.
Book in the date and time of the rehearsal sooner rather than later. Rehearsals can be tricky to coordinate. There are a lot of people involved, and also the venue and the celebrant need to be available at your preferred time too.
If you start on time, a rehearsal will take about 30 minutes.
Who should be invited?
- The two people getting married (bride and groom, bride and bride, groom and groom)
- the person walking you down the aisle (traditionally father but can be anyone)
- the flower girls and page boys
- the rest of the bridal party
- anyone doing a reading
- the person operating the music
That’s the optimum but having said all that, if someone can’t make it to a rehearsal, it’s not worth stressing over or getting into an argument with anyone over. Your celebrant will work with whoever can be there.
Try not to have too many extras there either. It can be distracting when the celebrant is trying to pull it all together and those not involved are standing around chatting.
Rehearsals can be a welcome addition to your ceremony preparations or they can be a another thing on your to do list. It’s up to you to decide what feels right for you.
If this article is a bit long for you or you just don't have time to read it now, I've recorded a video with all the same information that you might prefer to watch.