3 Important Wedding Ceremony Rehearsal Tips

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Written By Aaron Smith

Rev. Aaron Smith enjoys sharing insights from over 10 years of wedding officiating experience.

This post will help you to plan your wedding ceremony rehearsal.

You are planning your wedding and you want to feel ready. Well, one of the best ways to get ready is to make sure that your wedding ceremony rehearsal goes well. If you do that then you will feel much more relaxed the next day, the day of your wedding!

The challenge with the wedding ceremony rehearsal is that most of the time you have a large group of people who have likely never met one another before or have not spent a great deal of time together. Then you add the fact that you are practicing for one of the most important days of your life and you have a very small window in the wedding ceremony rehearsal to get it right.

Here are some questions that you may have that we will cover in this blog post.

Your Wedding Ceremony Rehearsal Guide

Who should attend?

Who is in charge?

How long should it take?

What happens next? (rehearsal dinner)

As a person with experience officiating weddings, I cannot stress how important the wedding ceremony rehearsal is. I would even go as far as to say that this is the most important wedding event and preparation other than the ceremony itself and maybe the reception. Yes, that’s right. The rehearsal is critically important.

The reason that the rehearsal is so important is that you have one chance to practice. Again, as an officiant, if I had the opportunity to practice multiple times with the wedding parties that I had an opportunity to work with I would have. But that is likely not a luxury that you will have as a couple, a wedding planner, an officiant, or a guest.

This is why it’s so important to spend this time wisely and do your best to stay on track during your practice. You want to greet everyone and introduce everyone to be sure that you are including everyone in the ceremony and yes, so that your rehearsal does not get sidetracked with everyone trying to introduce themselves for the first time.

Another challenge, yes, another challenge with the wedding ceremony rehearsal is that everyone is looking forward to the rehearsal dinner which comes right after the wedding ceremony rehearsal. This means that time is limited. One of the best things that you can do because of this is to have food at the wedding ceremony rehearsal. Not enough that no one will want to eat at the rehearsal dinner but also substantial enough that no one will lose focus during the rehearsal.

The rehearsal can and in some cases should take time. The last thing you want to do is to rush the rehearsal and for any mistakes to show up in your wedding day and that was the reason. Take your time. Your wedding ceremony rehearsal should be at least an hour to an hour and a half. I would recommend 2 or more hours and at least 2 run-throughs to ensure that you are ready for the wedding.

3 Important Wedding Ceremony Rehearsal Tips 1 wedding ceremony rehearsal

Who Should Attend?

The attendees to the wedding rehearsal include your wedding participants, officiant, and honestly anyone who you wouldn’t mind including and paying for at the rehearsal dinner.

Who Is In Charge?

I’m a little biassed on this one but especially if you are getting married in a church remember that the officiant is the authority of the wedding. They are the one who signs your marriage certificate. But at the rehearsal dinner, the officiant will largely defer to the wedding planner because they are the ones who are in charge of planning the details of the wedding.

The wedding rehearsal should be a partnership between these two, the officiant and the wedding planner. Together they will help to lead the wedding party during the rehearsal. For this reason, it would be a good idea for these two to meet with the couple ahead of time to be sure that everyone is on the same page.

How Long Should The Rehearsal Take?

The rehearsal should take at least 1 to 2 hours however I would recommend closer to 2 hours if possible. If your rehearsal starts at 4 pm for example this will give you time to arrive at a 6:30 pm rehearsal dinner on time.

What Happens Next?

After the rehearsal dinner, the wedding planner will give instructions on transportation to the rehearsal dinner.

The Rehearsal Order

This is the order that your wedding rehearsal can go in:


This is actually extremely important because many of your wedding party have not spent an extended amount of time together if they have met at all. The couple should take an extended amount of time to introduce everyone at the rehearsal and even share a story or two if it’s appropriate for the group.

Processional Practice

Be very specific about the exchange of rings.

Closing Instructions

This is also important because you will likely have guests from out of town and you want to be sure to let them know exactly where to go after the rehearsal. Most of the time everyone from the rehearsal dinner will also attend dinner afterward however just in case not everyone attends you will want to let them know how to get back to the hotel and then arrive at the rehearsal dinner restaurant in time for dinner.

When you are planning your wedding it’s always a good practice to imagine where every guest and participant will be throughout the day on these two very important days, the day before and the day of the wedding.

Hopefully, this blog post will help you to feel more prepared for your wedding ceremony rehearsal.

The next step after the wedding ceremony rehearsal on the day of the rehearsal is the rehearsal dinner however in terms of planning the rehearsal does not take as much planning as other events. As long as your venue is reserved far in advance (one of the first tasks in wedding planning) and you make sure that everyone is present who is a part of the wedding, and don’t forget some food to hold them over, you will be ready.

You’re ready to rehearse!

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