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Your wedding rehearsal with Rev. Lyon

The purpose of the wedding rehearsal is to give us the opportunity to figure out all the tiny logistical details of entering, exiting, which way to face, handling the rings, handling the bouquet, etc. Having all these minute details rehearsed in advance will make your wedding ceremony run smoothly.

Not every ceremony needs a rehearsal. If the ceremony participants are the Bride and Groom and their 2 attendants, a rehearsal is may not be necessary. In that case, arrangements can be made to have the Groom give me the marriage license to review immediately before the ceremony.

As an ordained minister with more than 15 years of wedding experience, I know that far more goes into a beautiful wedding ceremony than ever meets the eye.

In my rehearsal session you will learn all that you need to do, and then you will practice it.  From this experience will come confidence, and from confidence will come poise. There is no more preferable frame of mind to be in during your ceremony than calm, collected and confident. All of which you gained from your rehearsal.

My rehearsal sessions are typically about an hour in length. In a wedding ceremony being comfortable and relaxed is important, and my extensive rehearsal session thoroughly prepares you for your special day.

Who should attend the wedding rehearsal?

All members of the wedding party including the bride, the groom, best man, maid of honor, bridesmaids, groomsmen, ushers, flower girl, ring bearer, readers, and mothers and fathers. Grandparents should come if possible. Ideally, the person who will be in charge of the music should be there if you are using a CD. Professional musicians or the D.J. will not need to attend. I have worked with a number of local professionals and I can meet with them just before the ceremony to discuss cues and timing so that the ceremony can be coordinated.

Everyone who is participating in the rehearsal should arrive on time because we will start on time. If you have out-of-town participants coming to the rehearsal and they don't know the area, providing them with a detailed map of the rehearsal location will reduce their stress and ensure their prompt arrival.

The actual rehearsal

When I conduct a wedding rehearsal, we always go through the entire ceremony several times to be sure everyone is comfortable with what they are supposed to be doing. The first time is usually a bit confusing, don't worry about that. It gets better each time until the last time is perfect.

Before the actual rehearsal, decide if you want the groomsmen to come in all together with the groom or paired up with bridesmaids. If they are to enter in pairs, decide in advance who will walk with whom. In either situation, the best man stays with the groom and enters with him. If your bridal party has an equal number of groomsmen and bridesmaids and you are having the bridesmaids enter with the groomsmen, the Maid of Honor will walk alone.

Unlike some, I do not start the rehearsal at the beginning of the ceremony, I start in the middle of the event. We will begin the rehearsal by getting everyone in their proper places at the altar. The bride and groom will be in the center. At the beginning, the bride and groom will stand facing me. The attendants stand on either side of the officiant, facing the bride and groom. This position allows your guests to see the attendants' faces rather than their backs.

The flower girl stands in front of the maid or Matron of Honor. If there are two flower girls, the second stands in front of the first bride's maid. The ring bearer stands in front of Best Man.

Once the main participants know where they are to stand, it's easy to rehearse the recessional. The bride and groom leave first and are followed by any children (flower girl and/ring bearer). They, in turn, are followed by the Maid and/or the Matron of Honor, the Best Man, and pairs of bridesmaids with ushers (groomsmen). The couples leave from the center out, i.e., the couple closest to the bride and groom leave first and the couple on the outside exit last.

Once the wedding party, including all the attendants, have exited, the families follow. First the bride's parents, then the groom's parents, then the bride's grandparents, and finally, the grooms grandparents. The rehearsal of the recessional is complete.

After the processional, you can choose to have a receiving line or not. We can discuss the options at the rehearsal. Some of the factors that can effect the decision as to the receiving line is the weather or the amount of time you have for formal pictures.

Now that you have everyone leaving properly, it's time to rehearse the processional. By now, you're a pro, so this will be a cinch. The processional can get a little complicated because of the different styles and ethnic variations. In the "traditional" wedding, immediate family members, including parents and grandparents, are formally escorted to their seats once everyone else is seated. Specific seats should be assigned to family members. Ushers, if you have them, should know whom they will be seating, and vice versa.

To begin the processional, I will either walk down the aisle or come in from the side area. This really depends on the physical layout of the area. The Groom will follow after me. The Best man will follow him. The music can either when I start down the aisle, or when the groom and all the groomsmen have entered. At this point, the groom is facing slightly toward the aisle. The ushers are facing the groom and the guests.

This is the point at which the bridesmaids enter. The bridesmaid that is standing farthest away from the bride is the first to enter. (During the recessional she was the last one out.) An appropriate amount of space should be left between attendants, so they don't bunch up. The bridesmaids can follow a mirror image of where the ushers are standing. The ring bearer(s) and flower girl(s) enter next. The bride follows with her escort. The bride, of course, waits until all the attendants are in their places before she starts down the aisle.

Your escort

The honor of escorting the bride into the ceremony is of course her decision and she may choose to enter in any number of ways. For example, a bride may enter:
Escorted by her father and/or mother.
Escorted by her father and step father.
Escorted by her children.
Escorted by close friend(s) in lieu of absent or deceased family members. Escorted by her groom. In other words the couple walks down the aisle together.
(Shows a strong statement of equality.)

Your entrance can be an opportunity to show gratitude toward someone very special in your life by giving them the honor of escorting you down the aisle.

There are several ways for the bride and groom to "meet". The groom may greet the bride, part way down the aisle, offer his arm, and take her from her escort or the bride may be escorted all the way to where the groom is standing. The groom stands to the right of the bride. The escort is seated or, in the case of a mother and father escorting the bride, they go to their assigned positions. If the escort is to respond to a question posed by the officiant, he should remain standing until the question is asked and answered (e.g., "I do," "Her mother and I do," or "Her family and I do").

The rehearsal of the ceremony contends with lots and lots of details. The more of these that are addressed before the actual event, the smoother things will go.

Let's talk about the rings. If there is a ring bearer, then the pillow can hold the rings. The ribbons should not be tied in a tight knot. If there is no ring bearer, the rings should be in the possession of the Best Man. It is too hard for the Maid of Honor to hold your groom's ring, hold your flowers and her flowers all at the same time.

Things to consider


Ushers should be at your rehearsal session to learn about the many duties required of them. Ushers have many important roles in wedding ceremonies and are essential to any wedding planning with 20 or more guests attending. Ushers perform at least four essential functions in a wedding.

  • Most importantly, ushers escort VIP parents and grandparents to their seats.  Even if a mother or grandmother is with her husband, she would be escorted by an usher to her seat and her husband follows her. Do not use your ushers to escort all female guests to their seats unless you are having a small wedding.  Ushering takes time.
  • Ushers deploy the aisle runner just before a bride walks down the aisle to accentuate her entrance.
  • Ushers assist while your guests exit at the end of the ceremony by directing them to your reception line in an orderly fashion.
  • Most important of all, ushers tend to unforeseen problems that come up during a ceremony and which require immediate attention such as someone or something creating noise.

Although it is a nice touch, ushers do not need to be in tux for the ceremony. Generally speaking, being an usher is a different role than a groomsman. The role of an usher is separate duty. Yes, groomsmen can be ushers but that may become a problem if you are using an aisle runner.

If there is going to be an aisle runner, decide ahead of time who will pull it out and at what point in the procession it will be done. Traditionally, it was done just prior to the bride’s entrance after the bridal party and made their entrance. I have seen it changed so that the entire wedding party walks on the runner. I do not recommend aisle runners for outside weddings. They blow around and in a grassy area, your heels will go through the paper. Having the flower girl toss petals outside as they come in is always a nice touch and you really don't need an aisle runner for an outside ceremony.

Children in the ceremony

Children can be wonderful participants in your wedding ceremony. As a wedding minister that helps couples with children plan their weddings, here are just four roles for kids in weddings for ages from one to ten years. Typical roles for boys and girls- are ring bearer and flower girl. They can also serve as a bell ringer to herald the entrance of the bride. Just before the bride enters, this child walks down the aisle ringing a glass or porcelain bell proclaiming "The Bride Is Coming! The Bride Is Coming"!This delights audiences and they typically applaud the little boy or girl.  And yes, the youngest of your guests can be in your wedding too. Small children can be pulled by an usher in a bright little red wagon. This is a picture for any parent.

Children who are afraid or very shy should not be forced to be in the wedding ceremony if they do not want to participate. Nothing ruins a wedding ceremony more than a crying child. At the rehearsal, if the child is fine with his or her role, they usually are fine the day of the wedding. I will work with the children to make them feel comfortable. Any children who are expected to be in the bridal party should be at the rehearsal.

This brings up the topic of crying or disruptive children. Not a pleasant subject but one that needs to be mentioned. Children who are disruptive or crying loudly during the ceremony should be removed from the ceremony. This is your wedding and it will be very stressful for you when this is going on. The child will become the focus of the entire audience. If you are having your wedding videotaped, it can be a big problem. It is the role of the usher to take care of this matter politely and discretely.

Other decisions

If you are going to have a unity candle, we will practice that with the actual candles that will be used in the ceremony. Each unity candle and their holders are configured slightly different, so it will be important to rehearse with the same one that will be used at your wedding. Bring it with you to the rehearsal. A unity candle is NOT recommended for outdoor weddings. Consider doing a sand ceremony instead.

If you are having a rose presentation during your ceremony, we will not rehearse that at the rehearsal since this part of the ceremony may be a surprise for the recipients of the roses. I will guide you during the ceremony. The roses should have a table where they can be placed before the ceremony. If you are not having any flowers delivered to the ceremony site, please assign one of the groomsmen or ushers to bring the flowers for the rose ceremony to the ceremony site when they come. It should not be one of the bridesmaids as they will not arriving until the wedding is about to begin.

If you choose to have a rehearsal for your ceremony, it's important to remember that it should be a pleasant part of your wedding events. Make your rehearsal as much fun and as pleasant as you can. Your attendants will thank you and you will find that you too are far less anxious if you do it with a smile. Keep in mind that your wedding, although certainly an important event, is not by any means, a performance. It is instead, a very special moment that you choose to share with your friends and family. No one will be keeping score, grading you or taking notes. Everyone will be caught up in the joy of the moment. You should be too!