Sunday, August 27, 2017


I like to do rehearsals. Why? Because there's always a chance for miscommunication. The bride forgets to tell the officiant that a bagpipe player will be performing a medley of romantic songs just before the vows, or Uncle Smedley, who used to pastor a church in Arkansas before that "incident" will be reading from scripture, which turns out to be the first six chapters of Isaiah. Usually, however, it's little stuff. This past weekend the ceremony included a Unity Sand Ceremony. We discovered during the rehearsal that I had the wrong version in my notes, so we fixed it in time for the actual ceremony.

In general though, the rehearsal should be a fairly straightforward affair: get everybody lined up, show them where they are going to stand and let people who have parts to play know what there cues are. This of course includes whoever is holding the rings (usually the best man). It can also include any "extras", like family members who are going to come up and do a reading, or a musician or singer who will be performing during the ceremony. Since a wedding ceremony can be considered a performance of sorts, you don't want a lot of "dead air"; you want your singer or musician to be in position or least sitting close to the front when it's their turn.

The way I run a rehearsal is to start at the front of the room - the altar or arch, or wherever the ceremony is going to held. I then ask the bride and groom to line their attendants up in order, I then help them position themselves and ask them to note where they are standing. Then, before doing an actual run-through of the ceremony, we practice the recessional. As the bride and groom are walking out I instruct the wedding party as to when they are to follow the bride and groom. I also tell them to stay in order and with their partner because we're coming right back!

Now we can practice the processional since everyone allegedly knows where they are going. Once the processional is complete and everyone is in place we can actually walk through the ceremony, give everyone their cues and entertain questions. (Sometimes it's a challenge to keep questions on topic - decisions about table settings and limousines are best left for later). Occasionally the walk through will reveal flaws in the plan  and we make changes. Most of the time one walk through will be sufficient, but if there is any confusion, practice the processional and recessional as many times as needed.

A smoothly run rehearsal is one of the benefits of utilizing a professional officiant, especially if you do not have a wedding planner or event coordinator. An officiant with many weddings under his or her belt will anticipate potential problems and solve them before you even are aware of them.

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