Advice | Your Guide to Rehearsals with Rev. Barbara Lodge
Rehearse, schmearse, right? I mean, line up, walk in, line up, walk out, lead mass exodus to party.
Not quite. Rehearsal of your ceremony is pretty important, even if it is cut and dry at first glance. The modern wedding is not what it used to be. The landscape of the wedding ceremony is changing and almost every couple puts their own unique touches on it. From moving the physical location (read: a not church location), from having uneven and mixed gender bridal parties (gasp! what do you mean 5 groomsmen and 8 bridesmaids?!), to having a dance mob exit, ceremonies are becoming delightfully unpredictable. Another predicament can be bridal party peeps coming in from out of town, maybe some cannot be there for the rehearsal. So, here are some things to keep in mind, from pros that know!
Plan ahead. Set up the day and time for the rehearsal. Always check and coordinate with the venue folks of what works for them. A lot of them have set times during the week they allow for rehearsals. "To make sure you are efficient with everyone’s time - and to save face for those of your family and friends who tend to run late - put out an earlier start time for the rehearsal. That way, the stragglers will still actually be on time and things can move forward for the rest of the day and the rehearsal dinner without your time line being adversely affected. (This is also a good idea for the wedding start time for the same reasons.)" - Rev. Barbara Lodge
You're not quite done with your to-do list. Make sure you bring your marriage license! Many times officiants want to see this at the rehearsal. Also bring any owed payments if they are still outstanding. Rev. Barbara Lodge also suggests: "If you are writing your own vows and your minister has asked you to bring to the rehearsal your vows printed up on a card, make sure you do that. Some ministers will make those cards for you but some prefer you do it yourself. Likewise, if there are “props” for parts of your ceremony that you are to bring, you should have all of that with you when you come for the rehearsal. These would include cords for handfastings, sands and containers for sand ceremonies, goblets for cup ceremonies, candles, lighters and votives for candle ceremonies, framed photos of relatives for memorials, and any other keepsakes you plan to use during the ceremony. "
Who's who? Wondering who should be included? Your officiant, the couple, all bridesmaids and groomsmen, flower girl, ring bearer, readers, singers/musicians, ushers and any one else you would list on a ceremony program. Seriously consider keeping the rehearsal "closed". If you let your other friends and family hang out in the back, it can get distracting and will probably frustrate your coordinator and will cause delays. The venues usually have a set small amount of time they allow for a rehearsal so you need to use the time efficiently. Plus, it will ruin any surprises and the magic of the 'I do's'!
Spread the word. Include important info on your website and emails, like time, place, transportation and dinner plans. Including a cheat sheet card in your invite packet is also great. Feel free to send an electronic copy of the ceremony program also. If you have readers or musicians, everyone should have a copy of what is being read/performed (including your officiant and coordinators) with them.
Practice makes perfect. Depending on your situation, a few scenarios can play out for your rehearsal. If you are at a facility with in house directors and officiants, they usually run the show. Easy peasy. If you are having a non-traditional ceremony and you do not have your officiant there, it's up to you to run the show. Make sure you have a few copies of the ceremony program so that everyone knows the order of ceremony. The best way to run a rehearsal is to first practice the walking in (processional) and out (recessional). The most familiar processional and recessional has the guys line up at the front in order, with groom center, followed by best man(s)/woman(s), and the rest of that side (usually from the right, but it can be down the aisle too). Then have the girls walk in (usually down the aisle) as appropriate, with maid/matron/man of honor last. Remind your bridal party as they walk with bouquets that it is an accessory, not a mic (keep it outta yo face). To practice the recessional (walking out), the exit is typically the reverse of the entrance, starting of course with the happy couple, followed by the bridal party. If you have an even number, march out two by two. If you have an uneven number, you can have them alternate one by one. Wisely, Rev. Barbara Lodge notes "you can also have some of your bridal party exit as trios. That always elicits a chuckle from the guests, whether is is a groomsman or a bridesmaid in the center." Either way is totally fine!
After you have the entrance and exit order figured out, start from the top. Add the music to the processional and space folks out appropriately. You don't need to read your ceremony word for word. Let it come somewhat naturally for the real deal, it will be much more authentic. If you have anyone doing any readings or musical performances, have them at least partially go through their part. This will help determine where they should stand, if they need to be mic'd or not, and gives them a chance to get some jitters out.
About our guest blogger, Rev. Barbara Lodge:
Reverend Lodge is an ordained Nondenominational minister and interfaith wedding officiant who specializes in creating unique, personal ceremonies designed and written specifically for you. Bring your ideas to Reverend Lodge and together you can make them into a beautiful reality. From the traditional to the unexpected, she can help you create a memorable, loving ceremony that fits you perfectly. Even if you are unsure about the kind of ceremony you want, or perhaps have no idea how to begin, she can help you figure it out. Reverend Lodge provides a comprehensive resource library to help you personalize your vows and enhance your ceremony with readings and other symbolic elements that will highlight what is most important to you. Reverend Lodge is known for her kind, friendly manner, professional approach and total commitment to the desires of every couple. You will sense right away you can trust her completely. Throughout the planning and during the ceremony she will gently guide you so nothing is overlooked and nerves are eased. These are strong emotional moments in your life and it helps to know that a caring hand is there to help you should you need it. In thank you notes written after their ceremonies, many couples have remarked that the calming effect of her presence allowed them to relax and enjoy their special day without any worries. As a minister (and now wedding officiant) with over 20 years of experience helping couples celebrate their love for each other and their children, Reverend Lodge has an extensive background with weddings, vow renewals, commitment ceremonies and christenings. Your ceremony will be far more meaningful to you and your guests if it is designed to include the special things that make you unique and your family and guests will delight in the unexpected warmth and intimacy that this kind of celebration naturally creates.
Feature Photography by Nieto Photography