Let’s be honest, your wedding rehearsal is a big deal. It’s the practice run before the actual ceremony, usually occurring a day (or sometimes two) before the wedding day itself. This is the moment when things start to feel real and when you really get excited—not that you weren’t already!

Your rehearsal should be relatively short, no more than an hour. You don’t want your friends and family to get antsy, especially if you have young children involved. Plus, everyone is looking forward to that rehearsal dinner!

To make sure your wedding rehearsal goes smoothly—and quickly—check out these tips!

Be prepared

You should come into your rehearsal with everything already decided—the music everyone will walk down the aisle to, who’s walking with whom, and the order in which people will enter. Talk to your officiant ahead of the rehearsal about how things should go and what you expect from them as far as speaking. If you’re having any readings, make sure all readers have their pieces ready. Everyone should have a copy of the order of ceremony and know where they fall in the order and their responsibilities.

Line everyone up

Traditionally, the bride and her bridesmaids stand on the left side facing the altar, while the groom and his groomsmen stand on the right. However, how you do things is totally up to you! Before you begin rehearsal, have everyone stand in their spots for the ceremony so they know where they will be walking to when they enter. Once everyone knows their spots, have them line up from the spot where they’ll walk in and make sure everyone is paired up with the correct partner.

Run through the order of ceremony

The point of a wedding rehearsal is to give everyone an idea of how things will go. That doesn’t mean you need to actually walk through the whole ceremony. Your officiant should save their whole speech for the actual wedding and give just a brief overview during the rehearsal. If you have readers, however, it’s a good idea to let them do their reading to give them a chance to practice and feel more comfortable with the material.

Practice the recessional

How the wedding party walks out after the ceremony is just as important as how they walk in before things get started. Start with the happy couple, then the Maid of Honor and Best Man, and finally the whole wedding party in pairs behind them, starting with those closest to the couple. Once the wedding party exits, the parents follow.

Once more, with feeling

Once everyone has walked back out, have them line up and enter again. Run through the whole ceremony more quickly this time, just to make sure everyone has it down. Twice should be plenty, but if there are any parts that seem to be an issue, review those pieces of the ceremony again to ensure there isn’t any confusion.

Explain what happens afterward

You don’t want your wedding party hovering around after the ceremony, uncertain about where to go. Let them know about your post-ceremony plans. Some couples have a receiving line to greet everyone, and it’s common to take additional photos of the families and the wedding party after the ceremony. If that’s the case, let everyone know they need to stick around and tell them where to go so you don’t have to try to track anyone down.

An organized, smooth wedding rehearsal can help you feel a little less stressed about the wedding day itself. By making sure everyone involved knows what they’re doing, you can focus more on the anticipation and the joy of your upcoming wedding!

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