If you have me as your celebrant, a rehearsal kind of means ‘checking the stage management of your big day’. I want to save the big emotion, the formality for your wedding day, and just sort out the kind of boring details of who goes where when, who says what when and when you’re allowed to have your big smooch.
Here are the things that a rehearsal helps you sort out.
- How long it actually takes you and your bridesmaids to walk down the aisle. If your song is 3 minutes 45 seconds, will it take you all that long to walk down the aisle or do you need to wait out of sight for 30 seconds or even a minute before the first bridesmaid or flower girl heads down the aisle?
- How to walk down the aisle. Walking sounds easy right? But most brides and bridesmaids want to walk way too fast as they make their way down the aisle. On your wedding day, walking is about looks, not just about getting somewhere. You’re giving your guests a chance to see you make an entrance, you’re giving yourself time to enjoy the walk with your Dad or whomever you choose to walk down the aisle with. And this is your groom’s first look at you – let him enjoy it, and let yourself enjoy seeing the emotion on his face. But also (I personally think) the step together pause you see on movies looks naff in real life.
- Dads want to know what they’re supposed to do. Generally speaking Dads who walk their daughters down the aisle like to know the plan. What am I supposed to do when I get her to the end of the aisle? When am I allowed to sit down? Am I doing something with the veil?
- How and where do the bridal party stand? Many groomsmen aren’t used to standing formally in suits – the biggest no go: hands in pockets, it looks rubbish in photos! At the rehearsal I ask the groomsmen to decide amongst themselves what’s more comfortable – hands clasped in front or hands clasped behind. Also based on the space we have, how far apart should the bridemaids and groomsmen be, how far forward or back?
- If parents have a part to play at the beginning of the ceremony. Sometimes they’re asked to say ‘we do’ in response to ‘who brings this woman/ man’ to this marriage. They like to know when they’re supposed to say that, what I’m going to say before they’re supposed to say it.
- Same goes for anyone giving a reading/ prayer/ leading in a song. But I will say, if you’ve organised someone to do any of these things (including the parents part at the beginning) I’m always very clear in asking for them. And if they can’t make it to the rehearsal you can always show them a copy of the ceremony so they know when they’re saying their piece and what they’ll hear me say to alert them to it.
- I’ll run through what I’ll say when it’s time for you to read your vows, exchange rings and pash (kiss) at the end. But that doesn’t mean I won’t quietly answer any questions you quietly ask me during the actual ceremony.
- Work out the music cues for whomever you put in charge of the music.
- I’ll answer any other questions you or your bridal party have.
- Work out the plan for your alternate venue (if you have one). Because chances are very good you’ve put great thought into how your ceremony will run in your plan A venue, but not really thought through the plan if you end up in your plan B venue (because it WILL NOT RAIN ON YOUR WEDDING DAY!)
Basically it lets everyone relax. Chances are good I’ll say something ridiculous during the rehearsal (like the time – during rehearsal, only during rehearsal – when I forgot who I was marrying and pronounced a same sex couple husband and wife, oops!) which also breaks the ice.
I’ve even done a rehearsal in a different venue to where the ceremony was planned. It still works (this was done so they could avoid paying my travel twice, as they were staying in Tekapo but marrying near Mt Cook, we had the rehearsal on the lawn at their accommodation).
I’m not saying a wedding without a rehearsal won’t work, it will. But chances are good afterwards, even though your guests will all think it was spectacular, you will notice a few things that didn’t go as you thought they would and you’ll whisper more questions to me during the ceremony.
Personally, I think a rehearsal is such a good idea, I include one in my standard fee (this includes my travel for the rehearsal if you’re planning to have your rehearsal and/or wedding within my free travel zone). If you’ve chosen another celebrant, and you want to have a rehearsal, do check with them that that’s going to be possible and if there are any extra charges for it.
Congratulations on your engagement! Wherever and however you plan to tie the knot, happy planning. If you’re planning to marry in the Mackenzie Country, Mt Cook, North Otago or South Canterbury I’d love to hear from you