Do I Really Need a Wedding Rehearsal?

by | Ceremony Wisdom, Wisdom


Robyn Pattison CMC
Find me on Ms Polka Dot's Directory |

One of the questions I am asked most often, when couples first contact me about their wedding ceremonies is “do you do rehearsals?”. Well, yes, I do – of course, I do – if you want one. Wedding rehearsals are not for everyone. There are reasons for and against. Here are some things to consider when deciding if you should have a rehearsal.

If you have a large bridal party, and lots of bridesmaids to walk down the aisle, a rehearsal is definitely helpful. They can practice where to walk, where to stand, and how to get the timing right. If your bridesmaids have very high heels, or a set of very steep steps to walk, a few test runs is a good idea. Getting the pace right is helpful … not too slow (definitely not in that traditional one step, two feet together, one step walk) and not too fast either. No sprinting down the aisle. Relax. Head up. And PLEASE smile …

Rehearsals can also help to manage Dad! Usually, when Dad walks the bride down the aisle, he has no idea what to do when he gets to the end. Unless you take charge, Dad will probably stand around for much longer than he should, blocking your guest’s view and preventing your photographer from getting great shots. A rehearsal can give Dad the guidance to know where to walk, when to stand, when to move and what to say. Having said that, I have still marched many a forgetful Dad back down the aisle to his waiting daughter, rehearsal or not!

If you are very nervous about the whole day, a rehearsal may help to calm your nerves and put things in perspective. BUT please don’t rehearse your vows. Don’t spoil them. I never, ever let my couples practise their vows at the rehearsal. Those are words to be practised in private and spoken on the day, in that special moment you have been waiting for.

Rehearsals are all about mechanics. It’s “you do this and I’ll do that”. Walk here, stand there, don’t forget to look at each other. A rehearsal won’t stop something random from happening on the day – especially when kiddies are involved. In reality, all you need to do is make it down the aisle. From the moment you do that, you should be able to trust your celebrant to guide you through everything.

A few things to remember about rehearsals …

  • Not every member of the family needs to be there. I have conducted rehearsals for 30 people, while 25 of those just stood around waiting – bored.
  • Groomsmen never listen rehearsal or not – a good celebrant will whip them into shape (and confiscate iphones, sunglasses and drinks) on the spot, on the day – and long before the bride arrives.
  • Decide early if you want a rehearsal. Asking your celebrant for a 4pm Saturday rehearsal, at a few day’s notice means that it probably won’t happen. I can almost guarantee you that they will be marrying someone else at that time!
  • If some of the bridal party can’t make it, don’t panic. You can also talk them through what needs to be done. You can have a rehearsal at home – or just get the girls together at the spot to practise the walk.
  • No bridal party? No need for a rehearsal. Promise.
  • There’s a lot to be said for letting the moment take care of itself. Enjoy the moment, and soak up the joy on the day. It’s the best advice I can give you. A rehearsal cannot give you any guidance more valuable.

This is me with the lovely lovely Kristy and Krit – all smiles after their April wedding. We did do a rehearsal for their wedding, but even so, there was an unexpected moment or two, and it didn’t matter a bit!

Photos by Wyatt Song from Moments In Time.

Ms Gingham says: Sometimes things happen that no rehearsal could ever predict so keep smiling and carry on … even if the flowergirl wees herself during the ceremony … (it’s happened!).

Robyn says: “I am quite possibly the happiest marriage celebrant in Sydney! Weddings are my thing! Nothing makes me happier than a really happy couple – every time.”

Follow Robyn’s blog for more happy wedding moments!

Read more very wise words from Robyn here.

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  • Ms Paisley says:
    August 9, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Great advice Robyn. What’s trickier? Kid or dog wrangling? I’ve seen a few ceremonies where pet puppies are ringbearers!!

  • Robyn Pattison says:
    August 9, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Kiddies are noisier but dogs are funnier. I’ve had a dog ring bearer lose the rings, another doggie do figure of 8’s through the groom’s legs the whole time. I’ve had kids chuck massive tantrums, demand “up, up, up” in the middle of the vows, a flower girl stop me mid-sentence to explain why I use the microphone, and the brother of a flower girl decide that he was going to marry the bride, mid ceremony, too. He was 4!

  • Courtney S. says:
    August 10, 2011 at 2:44 am

    It’s disappointing that you don’t mention church weddings here, as for longer ceremonies, a rehearsal is a must! Being a maid of honor at my friend’s Catholic mass ceremony was enough to leave me confused — and we DID have a rehearsal AND I’m Catholic! Knowing when to sit down, stand up, go to the altar, take the bouquet, etc. is a lot to take in for both the bridal party and the couple. Not having one is a non-option.

  • Robyn Pattison says:
    August 10, 2011 at 7:09 am

    Hi Courtney, you are right! But I can only write about what I really know, and civil ceremonies are my thing – for any religious ceremony, in most churches, temples etc, they have many traditional rites and the religious officiant should show you exactly what to do. Civil ceremonies have much less stand up/sit down…. Next time I will be more specific 🙂

  • Ms Paisley says:
    August 10, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Love your story about the 4 yo trying to cut the groom’s lunch! CLASSIC!!

  • Oh The Joy! | Polka Dot Bride says:
    August 30, 2011 at 10:16 am

    […] than a really happy couple – every time.”Read Robyn’s post about wedding rehearsals here.Want more? Check out these posts from the archivesHow Many Hours Does A (Great) Celebrant Really […]

  • Friday Roundup - Polka Dot Bride says:
    December 10, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    […] Robyn Pattison shares with us her thoughts on ‘Do I Really Need A Wedding Rehearsal?’ on… […]



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