Everyone knows what a rehearsal dinner is, but what about the event that precedes it? How much do you really know about the ceremony rehearsal itself? For most couples, planning the wedding rehearsal ends up becoming a last-minute task, but this pre-wedding event shouldn't be forgotten about. Understanding how the ceremony will flow—and ensuring all the key players in your wedding understand, too—is important if you want the day to move smoothly (trust us, you do!). To understand the necessary elements of a successful wedding rehearsal, we asked wedding planner Kimberly Morrill of Your Perfect Bridesmaid to break it all down.
Get the timing down.
If you can, plan to have the rehearsal at the same time of day that you'll be having your ceremony, especially if you're tying the knot outdoors. "If the ceremony is outside, this is important so that we can make sure the sun isn't in anyone's eyes and we also try to avoid weird shadows on the couple, as those do come through on pictures," advises Morrill. It's still a good idea for any wedding, though. You can gauge traffic patterns and noise level, which will better help you plan ahead for any possible distractions.
Keep it small.
Only invite people that need to know where to go during the actual wedding. "We suggest only having folks who are actually walking down the aisle attend rehearsal," says Morrill. "We want it to be productive and too many people tend to complicate things."
Go over the key details.
You don't need to walk through the entire ceremony, but you should go over the important parts. "We get everyone lined up where they will be standing, in the correct order. We then start with the 'hand-off' of the bride from her escort to her soon-to-be spouse," says Morrill. At this point, plan to practice the tiny details like hand placement, avoiding the bride's train or veil, and when the maid of honor will take the bouquet. From there, you can explain the ceremony highlights (readings, communion, passing of the rings from the best man to the officiant) but not actually perform them. "We then have them recess, and then we start from scratch because everyone should now know their order and what to do. It makes it so much easier," adds Morrill.
Use your rehearsal as an opportunity to get everyone on the same page. "As planners, we like to hand out copies of the timeline and our contact info to the entire bridal party," says Morrill. "We want them to call us, not the couple should they have questions or concerns." You can also use the rehearsal as an opportunity for any introductions. If your parents haven't met the officiant, or your maid of honor still doesn't know your best man, now is a good time to help them make that connection.