Wedding Coordinator Expertise: Everything About Rehearsals

Sooo, you’re having a wedding huh? Chances are you’re also having a wedding rehearsal. Our team gets asked all the time about planning a rehearsal- when, how and who to invite. This simple event can turn stressful if you don’t have your ducks in a row, so here is our breakdown on everything to know – pay attention ducks!

When should we schedule it?

Most of the time, the rehearsal is held the evening before the wedding- usually before a rehearsal dinner or welcome reception.  This works just fine, especially if you have wedding party that is travelling in to town and won’t arrive til the day before the wedding. If you have more flexibility on timing, consider doing it 2 days before (so Thursday if your wedding is on Saturday). It is so nice to have the extra day to relax and spend time with friends and family in between, and it is much less stressful than basically having a whole extra event 12 hours before your wedding! Oh and you know everyone is going to be DRANKING at the rehearsal dinner, so less chance of a hungover wedding party :)

Another option to consider is having a morning rehearsal and doing a brunch or lunch after- again it gives you more time to relax versus doing a dinner that will end late, plus lunches are generally less expensive than a cocktail reception!

How long will it take?

You should allot for the rehearsal to take an hour. The actual rehearsing only takes about 20-30 minutes but you can count on everyone being late and extra chatty :)

Where should we do it?

Ideally, your rehearsal will be at your wedding venue. Obviously this allows you to truly practice exactly how the ceremony will run, where people will stand and sit, etc. However this isn’t always possible- in fact in Southern California, it is not uncommon for venues to NOT include or guarantee rehearsal time. That means you need to find an alternate location. We have done rehearsals everywhere from backyards to parking lots! If you have a lot of guests staying at a certain hotel, ask them if you can use an extra meeting room for 20-30 minutes. Or you can try to schedule it at your rehearsal dinner restaurant an hour before dinner begins. If push comes to shove, we have done rehearsals the day of the wedding as well at the actual venue, you just have to build in an extra 30 minutes into the pre-ceremony timeline.

Who do I invite?

Keep the invite list to the actual rehearsal to a minimum- only people directly involved with the ceremony should attend. Wedding party, parents, officiant (if possible) and anyone doing readings or songs. Random family members, and your wedding party’s dates only slow the process down and will make it more stressful for you! Your 2 year old flower girl isn’t going to remember what she practiced at the rehearsal when there are 100 people staring at her on the wedding day- so kids are optional ;) Generally DJs or musicians don’t attend, and professional officiants don’t usually attend, but if it’s a friend officiating, they should be there to practice.

What actually happens at the rehearsal?

Your coordinator will wrangle everyone, introduce themselves (as the boss!) and run things- so just relax. You’ll practice walking down the aisle (the processional), and go through the basic flow of the ceremony- if your officiant is attending, they shouldn’t say everything, but it is helpful for wedding party and parents to have a general outline of the way things will go. If there are readings or songs or people getting up and down for any religious or cultural components- those should be fully practiced. You’ll practice walking back down the aisle (the recessional) and you should have a game plan of where everyone goes directly after the ceremony. Maybe that is straight into cocktail hour, maybe that is to a meeting spot for family photos – whatever it is, it is better to figure it out at the rehearsal.

So who is walking down the aisle, and in what order? For help on figuring out your processional, we wrote a whole post on that here!

If you are a PTC client, we will also take what we can from you at the rehearsal- this includes detail decor (signage, pictures, candles, favors etc), your marriage license, and final payments for vendors. We want to alleviate you and your partner from having to worry about anything on the day of!

Rehearsal Dinners and Welcome Receptions

There are a ton of options for rehearsal dinner celebrations, and there is no wrong or right way, so do what works for your family, wedding party and guests.

You could do a small dinner (or lunch- see above) for just your wedding party and immediate family, or you could invite all their dates along as well. Go a step further and usually out of town guests are also invited. An option is to have a smaller dinner right after the rehearsal and then schedule an informal “cocktail reception” in your hotel lobby or nearby restaurant bar- let people know they can drop by at any time, and if drinks are hosted or not. Takes a lot of the pressure off for both you and your guests!


Ok you did it! Now, go get a good night’s sleep before the big day!

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