How To Conduct Your Wedding Rehearsal
Written by David A. Sugarbaker,
It's not that hard. Except for the bride &
groom, most wedding attendants have to know how
to walk and stand. You can use this information
to conduct a brief rehearsal with your wedding
party, either at the site of the ceremony or at
another location. None of this is what you have
to do. You may want less formality. This
information is simply to help keep things
straight and assist you with a rehearsal if you
feel you need one.
is good, but not necessary, to do the rehearsal
at the wedding site. It may be more valuable if
there are children in the wedding party.
Sometimes the requirements of the site do not
make a rehearsal feasible. A rehearsal can be
done in someone's family room or living room.
Start your rehearsal by calling the entire
wedding party together. Line them up in the
order they will stand during the wedding
ceremony. If you are missing one or several
members of the wedding party at the rehearsal,
don't be overly concerned. Be sure as you line
people up that you leave a space for each
missing attendant. Ask those who are on either
side of the missing attendant to clue him or her
in on the day of the wedding. Those present will
pay extra attention; those missing will get the
word and you won't have to worry about it.
The attendants stand on either side of the
Officiant, facing the Bride and Groom. (If you
were a guest, would you rather see faces or a
row of backs?) Bride and Groom stand in front of
Officiant / Minister. Ringbearers and/or Flower
Girls stand in front of the adult attendants: if
one Flower Girl, she stands in front of
Maid/Matron of Honor; if two, in front of Maid
of Honor and first Bridesmaid; etc. Ringbearer
stands in front of Best Man.
Rehearse The Recessional First
Once everyone knows where they are to stand
during the ceremony, practice the Recessional.
Bride & Groom leave first, followed by any
children in the wedding party (first flower
girls, then ringbearers) then, Maid/Matron of
Honor & Best Man, followed by pairs of
Bridesmaids and Groomsmen. The "outside" pair in
the diagram (Figure 1) above would leave
After the wedding party has "recessed," the
immediate families should follow them: Bride's
parents first, then Groom's parents, then
Bride's grandparents, then Groom's grandparents.
Rehearsing The Processional
After practicing the Recessional, regroup to
practice the Processional. By this time everyone
knows where they are to stand, who they stand
next to, etc.
Before the Processional, immediate family
members are seated (usually parents and
grandparents). If you are going to do formal
seating, those family members to be especially
ushered in at the last minute should remain in
the "staging area" until everything and everyone
is ready and all the other guests have been
settled or seated. Assign specific ushers to
escort specific family members. Introduce the
usher/escorts to the family members each will be
seating, to be sure the ushers know who each of
them will be seating, and vice versa. The order
of seating is usually
The Officiant / Minister can then "cue" the
Processional music by bringing in the Groom and
his attendants. The Officiant / Minister will go
in first. The men follow, in order, with the
Groom either first or last in the lineup. They
go to their places and stand as you have already
rehearsed. Be sure the music people can see the
men and Officiant / Minister at the site of the
When the men are in place, the Groom's
attendants are facing the Groom and the guests.
The Groom should have his back to the Officiant
/ Minister, watching the aisle where the
Bridesmaid(s) and Bride will enter. At this
point the Processional music begins.
The Bride's party will need to be ready and
listening for their "cue" when the Officiant /
Minister and the Groom and his party go to their
places. When the Bride's party hear the
Processional music, they should begin the
Processional. The last (outside) Bridesmaid
enters first, followed by the other Bridesmaids,
if any, at intervals of perhaps 20 feet; then
the Maid of Honor. The Bride's party should
notice the placement of the Groomsmen, and
"mirror" them. Ringbearer(s) and Flower Girl(s)
come in next, and go to their places. Then the
Bride comes in with her escort on her left. The
Bride should wait until the all other members of
the wedding party are in their places before
even thinking about starting down the aisle. If
you have arranged with the musicians to play a
different processional piece for the Bride, wait
for the music to change.
the Bride approaches the front, the Groom may
take several steps toward her and her escort and
offer her his arm. The Groom is on the Bride's
right. The two of you then approach the
Officiant / Minister, leaving the escort
standing next to the row in which he will be
seated; usually on the Bride's side; front row.
the escort is to answer some question posed by
the Officiant / Minister, he should remain
standing until that question is asked, answer
the question and be seated. The usual options
for his reply are "I do" or "Her Mother and I
do" or "On behalf of her family, I do."
the escort is not to answer a question from the
Officiant / Minister, he should be seated as
soon as the Bride and Groom are standing before
the Officiant / Minister.
Rehearsing The Ceremony
During the ceremony, attendants stand there.
The rings should be either on the
Ringbearer's pillow, or in the custody of
the Best Man and Maid/Matron of Honor. If
carried by the two "best people," the Best Man
should carry the Bride's ring on his little
finger, and the Maid of Honor should carry the
Groom's ring on her index finger or thumb. Don't
let the Best Man put the ring in any pocket.
Don't have either one of them carry the ring in
a bag or box. Pockets, bags & boxes increase the
chances for dropping and/or losing the ring. Of
every ten rings misplaced or lost at wedding
time, eight have been lost by the Maid of Honor.
She has a big ring you have asked her to put on
her relatively small finger. For Maid of Honor
and Best Man, have them put the ring on a
finger, and then curl their fingers. Then the
ring isn't going anywhere.
rings are on the
Ringbearer's pillow, the Best Man will
remove them and give them to the Officiant /
Minister one at a time with the Bride's ring
first; or deliver both at the same time, at the
option of the Officiant / Minister.
The Bride and Groom face the Officiant /
Minister for the initial portion of the
ceremony, then face each other and join both
hands for the vows and rings. If the Bride has
not already given her flowers to her Maid/Matron
of Honor, do it now before joining hands.
You will have worked out with the Officiant /
Minister what you are to say during the wedding
ceremony. Hopefully the Officiant / Minister
will review this with you before the wedding
starts. At the point of the Vows, you may simply
respond to a question, or you may have decided
to do a "repeat-after-me" statement with prompts
from the Officiant / Minister.
For the exchange of rings, stop holding both
hands, and change to holding each other's left
hand. Each will be asked to repeat after the
Officiant / Minister as they place the ring on
their partner's hand. Rings never fit!! Don't
make too much of a struggle out of it. No one
can see whether the ring has cleared the last
knuckle or not. Don't use oil or lotion, either.
By the time you have to deal with the rings, it
will just make things more difficult. As you
face the Officiant / Minister again, you can
wiggle the ring on your own finger more easily
than your partner could.
After the exchange of rings, Bride and Groom
continue to face the Officiant / Minister until
the end of the ceremony. Then face each other
for the kiss. The Bride then gets her flowers
back from her Maid/Matron of Honor, and you both
turn to face the guests. Before the Recessional
music starts, however, the Officiant / Minister
may formally present to the two of you to your
guests if you have arranged for him or her to do
this. Then the recessional music begins and the
couple heads back up the aisle. (See earlier
comments about Recessional....)