We mention this in several places on our site, but it's worth repeating. The rehearsal, if conducted properly, can play a big role in making your wedding ceremony come off without a hitch.
Invite The Professionals In Your Wedding
Although it's not always possible, we like to see the Celebrant, the DJ/Musician(s), and the Wedding Ceremony Coordinator at the rehearsal - specifically, all of the professionals who are going to be helping things to go smoothly on your wedding day (along with, of course, any friends/relatives who have any role in the wedding ceremony).
This is a bit less important if the wedding is a simple matter of the "I Do's." But the more involved it is going to be, the more important that there be a rehearsal with all of the professionals present. In any case, you should always ask them if they can be present.
We believe that the rehearsal should take place in five stages:
1) The Basic Explanation.
When everyone is assembled, someone (perhaps the Celebrant or Wedding Ceremony Coordinator) should explain what, when, where, and how everything is going to happen. Once any questions are answered it's time for...
2) The Dry Run.
Everyone goes through the motions. This is done without respect to proper timing. You just want to make sure everyone has an idea of what they are going to do. (e.g. who is walking with who down the aisle, who has the rings, etc.) After any questions are answered it's time for...
3) The Full Real-Time Rehearsal.
Ok, time to get down to brass tacks. Here, everyone performs their duties in real-time... as they will occur on the day of the ceremony (e.g. the bridal party walks down the aisle at the speed they expect to walk down the aisle, readings are performed as they will be recited on the big day, etc.) Corrections are made as they are needed.
The songs that are going to be used for the seating of the VIP's, the processional, the rituals, etc., should be used to check for proper length, and where those songs will need to be started, edited, cut, ended, etc. This is a particularly important part for the DJ/Musician(s).
How long is it going to take the bridal party and the bride to get down the aisle? How long will it take for the Mother's to light the tapers to the Unity Candle? How long is the reading going to take? These are all things that the DJ/Musician(s) will be paying close attention to, and should be taking notes on. After corrections are made, and any questions are answered it's time for...
4) The Final Full Real-Time Rehearsal.
Yes... you are going to do it all over again. This time, as if this is your wedding day. By now, everyone should be pretty much up-to-speed with what, where, when and how everything needs to happen. This final rehearsal is also one last chance for the DJ/Musician(s) to adjust their song timing. After any final corrections are made it's time for...
5) Any Last Questions.
It may not be needed, but always give your friends, relatives, and professionals one last chance to ask questions. And, oh yes, there's one final thing...
6) Let's go have dinner!
It's customary to reward everyone for all the great work they did with a rehearsal dinner. And yes, the Celebrant, Wedding Ceremony Coordinator, and DJ/Musician(s) can be invited.
You'll want to allot enough time for the rehearsal (an hour is usually good enough) and try to emphasize that everyone needs to be on time. In fact, ask everyone to come 10 minutes early. Of course if the wedding itself is 40 minutes long, there won't be enough time for two full real-time rehearsals. Use your judgment on this. The Celebrant does not have to recite his entire sermon, and you don't have to recite your complete vows.
In fact, our biased opinion is that the most important parts of the ceremony to rehearse are those that must be timed to the music. So, especially for a longer ceremony, and within reason, the real-time rehearsals can be amended to fit the total time allocated for the rehearsal.
How long should a ceremony song be? Although it may sound like it, this is not a trick question! Indeed, some songs can be played at full length, while others need to be trimmed back a bit. How do you decide which is which? Let us help you with our article on ceremony song length.