I love the day before the wedding, there is a ton of anticipation…usually all the friends and family are in town together…people want to party and hang out…there is a lot of celebration in the air. And then comes the stress, rehearsal time.
Wedding rehearsals are not meant to be fun, there, I said it. They aren’t. Their purpose to make sure everyone is on the same page so the bridesmaids go to the correct side of the altar and the organist knows when to play the right music. Yet, on most wedding days, wedding parties are whispering “when do we do that again?” just as they are about to walk down the aisle.
Another tough thing about rehearsals is that the bride and groom are being pulled in five different directions. There are family members trying to joke, the officiant trying to get the logistics down, possibly a photographer asking where they want formals, all the little details are coming together and it can get really overwhelming.
So how do you make the rehearsal actually purposeful? Keep it short. A wedding party doesn’t need to practice walking down the aisle three or four times. Here is what I suggest to keep the rehearsal short and less stressful.
1) meet with your officiant to hammer out details BEFORE the rehearsal. So many times, I see a couple making final decisions about vows that night. Instead, have the decisions made a week before and keep your officiant in the loop. That way, the rehearsal will be strictly logistics and not about what verse you decided on having read before the sermon. The same goes for the wedding day itinerary…make sure it is finalized a week before the wedding (things like where will guests park? when will family arrive for pictures? will the florist help put flowers on the groomsmen? how bad will traffic be from the ceremony to reception? can all be figured out ahead of time).
2) elect ONE person to be in charge. If the wedding planner, officiant, the groom, the maid of honor AND the mother in law are all trying to direct, it becomes chaos and people get confused. One person should lead the night, and try to pick someone that will be lighthearted and easy going. It is really hard to reign in a fun loving wedding party for the rehearsal and stress can really build.
3) prep your wedding party ahead of time. Tell them that you want to have fun with them, but the rehearsal just needs to get done. If they know the more they listen at the rehearsal the quicker they can get out of there, then they’ll stay calm.
4) save the chit chat for the rehearsal dinner. Don’t have a ton of family and friends come to the rehearsal, it just distracts. The officiant and planner are taking time out of their day to run this rehearsal, so respect their time. Have spouses and other family meet you at the rehearsal dinner.
5) have all DIY projects done BEFORE the day before the wedding. Running around folding programs, or organizing centerpieces is going to make you go bonkers. Have all checks to the vendors sent out a week before the wedding so you don’t have to think about money or anything but having a good time at your wedding. If the day before you’re wedding is spent worrying about the logistics for the next day, you’ve missed out on time with friends and family.
6) use your rehearsal dinner to spend time with your closest circle of friends and family. Keep it small and intimate and really sit down to talk and enjoy each other’s company. Give your wedding party their gifts, take the time to thank your parents, hug your grandma. The wedding day will be crazy and go by in a second, so use the rehearsal dinner to show everyone how much you appreciate them.
We’ve seen rehearsals really kill the vibe of a wedding, and we’ve seen rehearsals that add so much meaning to the weekend. The difference has been organization. Stay on top of the game, have everything done a week before hand, and use the rehearsal to physically walk through the wedding once. On the day before your wedding, wake up, do something meaningful with your wedding party (spa morning, round of golf, nice lunch). Hang out with your family, relax. Look over all the wedding day details one last time. Then go to the rehearsal, walk through the ceremony, and then on to the rehearsal dinner. Enjoy. Eat, drink, be merry. Kiss your fiance. Pamper yourself and go to bed at a reasonable hour. That is my recipe for rehearsal success =)