The Wedding Rehearsal
Bill and I have performed thousands of weddings. Now and then a couple will ask if we are available for a wedding rehearsal a few days before or on the wedding day an hour or so before the ceremony. Some couples have a rehearsal dinner following a rehearsal. They invite members of their families, the wedding party, and out of town guests. In reality, few couples need an officiant at a wedding rehearsal.
An exception to this has been when we have been asked to co-officiate a marriage ceremony. It makes sense for us to be part of the rehearsal when a friend or relative (online officiant), out-of-state minister and others with uncertain credentials, has been asked by the couple to share in the performance of the marriage ceremony. Bill or I, in these cases, are responsible for the “legal” pronouncement of marriage which is a safeguard for couples particularly if down the road the marriage turns sour. Nonetheless, most of the time it is is absolutely unnecessary for a couple to have an officiant present at a rehearsal at the wedding venue.
That said, if a wedding is to be held in, for example, a Roman Catholic Church and the marriage ceremony/exchange of vows will take place during a Mass, it is expected that the pastor (priest) would require a rehearsal.
Bill and I like to meet with our brides and grooms to discuss the content and flow of the ceremony and we discuss the rehearsal. We furnish a Rehearsal Booklet that explains the ins and outs of planning and carrying out a worry-free rehearsal. It has been our experience that a majority of venues today plan for a wedding day rehearsal just before the guests enter the ceremonial area (inside or outside). When scheduled to perform a ceremony, we arrive at the venue an hour before the time of the ceremony and we often take part in rehearsals.
Wedding rehearsals are not complicated. Basically the officiant enters the space and takes his/her place up front. Venues usually have a wedding coordinator who will guide the parents of the bride and groom, the wedding party and bride and groom as to when to enter (processional) and where to stand and the order in which they are expected to leave (recessional). Some couples employ a wedding planner who takes on this role or even a trusted friend.
There are times when we have stepped in to organize the wedding party, particularly when the wedding is taking place in an informal setting, for example, someone’s home or in a backyard.
We are always prepared to help make every wedding run as smoothly and as beautifully as possible.
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On occasion Bill and I officiate at a wedding ceremony together, each of us assuming different parts of the ceremony. At one of our weddings I began to introduce the guests to the “heart” of the ceremony, saying “In a moment the Bride and Groom will exchange their wedding vows. No other vows are more sacred or important!” Bill and I noticed the Maid of Honor slipping the Bride an iPhone. Ignoring this, I proceeded to ask the Groom if he had special words for his Bride. He said his vows eloquently. He looked into his Bride’s eyes and promised eternal love and devotion. As I began to pose the same question to the Bride, I saw her searching for her vows on her phone. Gradually, the guests began laughing and chattering. Once she found her vows, she began to read them, beautiful words of love and devotion. Both of us stored this awkward moment for the Bride in the back of our minds. Now when we meet with couples, we always emphasize that we believe the vows are the heart of the wedding ce