A Stress-Free Rehearsal

A wedding rehearsal is more important than you might imagine.  When we are nervous it can be difficult for us to remember what to do when we have only talked about it.  

When the body has physically moved from one place to another it creates a physical memory that operates even when the mind is distracted. This body memory will support the wedding party so that the ceremony flows smoothly and is memorable for how wonderful it was, not how stressed you all were.

Sometime during the first month that I was conducting wedding rehearsals as a new minister, I discovered a method of rehearsing the wedding party that increased the confidence of the participants and reduced the length of time it took to complete the rehearsal by half.

The secret? Begin at the end. Here’s how:

Have everyone in the wedding party take their places where they will be standing during the wedding itself. Then rehearse the recessional, that is, the exit of the wedding party at the end of the ceremony. For the purposes of the rehearsal, have the wedding party exit to the places they will be entering from at the beginning of the wedding.

Once the recessional has been walked through in this way, have the groomsmen who are escorting mothers and grandmothers to their seats go ahead and physically walk through this with the parents if they are attending the rehearsal, which they often do.

This puts the mothers at ease since they now know who will escort them, when, and how it will be done.

It helps the groomsmen have a feel for timing and where they will need to be just before and after they do this special seating.

It helps the rest of the wedding party to know what will be taking place as they wait to begin their walk into the ceremony.

Have the rest of the wedding party lined up as they wait for this part of the walk-through. Then have them practice the processional that begins the wedding ceremony, with all participants heading to the places they were just standing in a few moments earlier. When everyone knows where they are headed this takes place quite easily and quickly.

With all of the wedding party in place after they practice entering, the wedding coordinator, or the wedding officiant handling the rehearsal, can give any special reminders or instructions about what will happen during the ceremony.

Once this is complete, run the recessional again. Ask if anyone has questions.

If they don’t feel secure, run the whole processional and recessional one more time. Usually this is plenty of rehearsal for the entire party to feel comfortable that they know what to do on the day of the wedding.