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  • Rochelle Fleming – NZ Wedding Celebrant

Ultimate Guide: The Wedding Rehearsal

To have a rehearsal or not, that is the question. The answer is…YES!

The wedding rehearsal is your opportunity to get all the participants within your day to know and understand what will be happening – the when, where, how and why. I've created a simple, 'How to Guide' (below), to give you an understanding of the flow of a wedding rehearsal.

At the rehearsal, you are not practising the ceremony itself like you would a dress rehearsal for a show, you are practising the walking-in, walking-out, and ensuring everyone knows where to stand – essentially, the basic flow and format of the ceremony.

The two people you need to assist with your wedding rehearsal are, the officiant and the venue coordinator. Your wedding rehearsal should be quick, easy and straightforward.


1. Positioning

Start by getting everyone into place – let them know where they will be standing during the ceremony so they have a good understanding of their spacing. For photos, symmetry is important, along with small details, like whether the groomsmen should hold their hands in front or behind.

2. Order of Ceremony

Once everyone is positioned, your celebrant will run through the essential parts of the ceremony so that all those present at the rehearsal know the order of events, from the welcome through to the first kiss.

3. Recessional

This occurs once the couple are presented as Mr and Mrs – it makes sense to practise this part while the bridal party are standing in position. The couple lead out first followed by the groomsmen, who link arms with the bridesmaids – it's important to work out a set distance between each pair.

4. Processional

Once everyone knows the position they will stand or sit during the ceremony, you can practice the processional – line everyone up in the order they will enter, again consider the spacing for anyone who will be walking down the aisle and the timing with music if you have it playing.

5. The hand-off / Kiss and release

The last item to practice is what happens when the bride and their escort make it to the front of the ceremony and are standing in front of the officiant and the groom. If the escort is a parent of the bride they should give her a kiss and congratulate her, often the escort will then shakes the groom’s hand. Following this, the bride hands her bouquet to the maid of honor and steps forward next to the groom – the escort moves to their seat. Here, the bride and groom stand facing one another, holding hands in front of the officiant. At this point, the maid of honor can hand off both sets of flowers to one of the bridesmaids and, if needed, fix the bride’s train.

6. One more time

Now that everyone is in place and has practiced walking in and out, then it's time to give it one more go! The rehearsal should last no more than 20-30 minutes.

7. Q&A

Finally, question and answer time – it's important that if the bridal party/family/participants have any questions regarding the ceremony, they are answered at the rehearsal – make time for the Q&A so that everyone has peace of mind on the actual day.

Following these simple steps will ensure everyone knows exactly what to do at your wedding ceremony.



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