The wedding rehearsal

My couples always ask what is involved in the wedding rehearsal. I have a set list of what we cover in the rehearsal so it is easy to remember.

  • Official paperwork to sign
  • Positioning and movement
  • Rituals and readings
  • Who should come to the rehearsal

What we will cover at the rehearsal

As I said above, I have a set way I conduct my rehearsals for my couples. It is very structured and I have found this structure can make the couple, and other bridal party members feel at ease. Especially if they are nervous or have never been in a bridal party before.

I hold my rehearsals at the venue if we are allowed to go there or you can choose any where you like. One of my recent couples held it at a local park and it was successful.

Most rehearsals last from 30 minutes to 60 minutes.

What we will cover at the rehearsal;

  • Couple to sign the DONLIM form with me
  • Practice the processional with music
  • Practice positioning at the arbour
  • Movements between sections of the ceremony
  • Signing documents practiced
  • Practice rituals
  • Practice readings
  • Practice music
  • Practice the “kiss”
  • Who should come to the rehearsal

What does this all mean

Couple to sign the “Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage”

This is one of the official forms that needs to be signed and submitted with your official paper work from the wedding ceremony day.

This document is to state that you and your partner are free to marry, that you are both over 18 and not married to another person. This form needs to be signed before the wedding as close to the ceremony as possible. The rehearsal is a great time to sign it as it is usually the day before or the week before the ceremony.

Sometimes couples are still finalising a divorce or are under 18 when they fill in the “Notice of Intended Marriage”. This document confirms that the divorce has been finalised and the under age party has turned 18.

Even though you may not fall into either category in your situation, every marrying party needs to sign this form to complete the paperwork to be legally married.

Practice the processional with music

When practicing the processional with music, it is easier for all of the wedding party if we practice at the ceremony venue. We can refine the entrance of the bride and bridesmaids to the music. We can pinpoint the spot that we start the music so that it will finish when the bride reaches the arbour.

Grooms are welcome to have a procession, families entering are welcome to have procession. I have married 2 brides and each of the them has a separate processional entrance. You can design your ceremony how you want. The rehearsal is the time that we refine and practice your big entrance.

Practice positioning at the arbour

The easiest way to organise the positioning to walk into the ceremony and out of the ceremony is to work out the position that you would like to end up at the arbour (ceremony spot).

We organise where everyone will stand and then, we work out the order of everyone leaving the ceremony.

Then everyone turns around and we work out how everyone enters the ceremony. This is the easiest way to work out the positioning.

Positioning image for one of my past couples.

Practice movements between sections

There a few parts to the wedding ceremony. So I ask my couples would they like to quickly go through each stage so they know what is coming. They have seen their wedding script but it is different standing at the arbour than reading it on a piece of paper. Remember your bridal party usually have not seen the script that we have put together so it’s nice to do the movements for them.

Even if you want a small, quick ceremony that is casual – it is still nice for everyone to know where to stand and move throughout the ceremony. It is also a comforting exercise for your bridal party as they can be nervous. I have heard many a bridal party person say to me, “I don’t want to ruin the ceremony”. So it’s nice to ease those nerves.

Signing the documents

By practice signing the documents with your witness’ it is nice to work out who will sit where and when so it doesn’t look like a scramble or musical chairs. I will always whisper directions to you to ease your nerves if you need it. Don’t worry about making mistakes. It won’t be noticed.

When signing the documents, I will have little post-it notes on the the areas each person needs to sign, so you don’t have to be worried about where you sign. This little trick works for me every time.

Everyone signing, will need to sign 3 times on the ceremony day.

Brides and Grooms, if you intend to change your name after the wedding – you just still need to sign your maiden name on the day.

Practice Rituals

If you have chosen to have a ritual during your ceremony, it is nice to work out at the rehearsal where the ritual table will be and how we have everyone involved move to the table that looks sophisticated. And then what happens to the other people standing at the arbour? Where do they stand? These are the things I like to work out at the rehearsal. You would be surprised how our original idea gets changed when we start moving people around.

Sometimes the area is smaller than you may have had in your head. The sun is in everyone’s eyes or the wind just blows everything over constantly so we have to keep things hidden under the table so it doesn’t fall over and break. This is the time to work all of these risks out.

Daniel & Jodie’s sand ceremony with their blended family

Practice Reading

If you have asked a family member or friend to do a reading for your ceremony., it might be a nice idea to let them to have a practice. We will work out the best place for them to stand. I actually had a grandfather of a bride do his reading directly to the couple. He stood in front of them and spoke straight to them. It was very touching and he enjoyed the honour to be involved in the ceremony.

Practice Music

The rehearsal is a great time to practice the music. At my ceremonies I sometimes have Miranda, my daughter come and do the music for me. But when she isn’t available couples need to have a friend or family member play the music for the ceremony. It is an easy job and I have a cheat sheet for the person who does this very important job. But at the rehearsal, it is an opportunity to practice.

Practice the “Kiss”

This may sound silly, to practice the kiss. But it isn’t. Make the kiss dramatic! You don’t want an awkward kiss like “Prince Charles & Princess Diana”. I will always move out of the way so your photographer doesn’t have my head in the back ground. It is also a good opportunity for your bridal party to see where they are standing when you do the big kiss, do they need to move back and out of the way too?

Who is expected at the rehearsal

Anyone who is involved in the ceremony on the day.

  • The marrying couple
  • Parents (particularly anyone who is escorting one of the marrying party or both down the aisle)
  • All of the bridal party
  • Your witnesses
  • Your music person
  • Anyone who is doing a reading
  • Anyone who is doing a ritual
  • Your photographer if you or they would like to be there

The one thing that I ask is that none of the party above be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs at the rehearsal and especially not on the wedding day. It makes it hard to direct people into the right place and to remember what we discussed. It is just better that every one is in the moment. It also has the potential to drag out the time for the rehearsal.

On the wedding day if either the Groom, Bride or witness’s are clearly under the influence – it is against the law for me to marry you. As you cannot give clear consent. If this was the case I would perform a commitment ceremony and then you would have to have a legal ceremony at a later date at an additional charge of $150. This is standard with all celebrants.

I hope this post helps you, your partner and anyone who is involved in the ceremony on the day understand a little bit more about the rehearsal. Please contact me if you would like anything clarified or if you have any questions.

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