How do I know if I really need a rehearsal before my wedding?

You are planning your wedding. Congratulations!  You’ve got your wedding party picked out, the hall is reserved, the caterer selected, colors picked, etc… Do you need to have a rehearsal for the ceremony?

Maybe, maybe not. It all depends on things like the theme for the wedding, the venue, the size of your wedding party and who is in it. The Heartfelt Team would like to offer you our best recommendations to guide you through this question.

rehearsal dinner

Yes, in most parts of the US., a wedding rehearsal is customary, as is the rehearsal dinner, but it’s not exactly mandatory. This is often a way for the members of the wedding party to get together, decorate the hall and get to know each other before standing up in front of all those people the next day.

How do you tell if having a rehearsal is what you actually need?

First of all, if the entire wedding party is very small, a rehearsal probably is not going to be needed. If the entire party is the happy couple and two witnesses, it’s pretty much a given that they aren’t going to need to practice. As well, if the service is going to be something very informal or perhaps in a judge’s chambers, again, you won’t need or have time to have a rehearsal before you tie the knot.

A rehearsal is never mandatory, but here are our best suggestions for when it would be a good idea:

1.       If the wedding party has more than two or three couples standing up. More people means more confusion, i.e: where do I stand, how fast do I walk, who am I with, what do I do? Are some of the more common questions asked in large bridal parties.


2.       If no one standing up has ever been in a wedding before. Most people over the age of eighteen have at least been in one wedding once in their lives. If this is the first time around for all concerned, then I would definetley advise you to have a rehearsal, since nobody has any idea of what they are doing.


3.       Are there young children involved in the wedding? Flower girls, ring bearers, miniature brides and grooms are all reasons to have a rehearsal. Children can be easily frightened by large crowds, especially when the music starts and everybody in the church turns around and stares at them!  Heck, that thought scares me, too!  Give them a chance to practice so they know what will happen and what they are supposed to do. It will prevent temper tantrums and hysterical bouts of nerves on the big day.


4.       Are members of the party unfamiliar with the ritual being used? We all have friends and loved ones who are of a different religion than the one we practice. If you have someone standing up who isn’t a member of the faith hosting the service, a rehearsal will let them know what to do. Walk them through it until they are comfortable with their role.


5.       Is it a formal wedding? Is this going to be a full on, flower-and-tulle, frock coat and top hat wedding? The social event of the year? Then a rehearsal is pretty much mandatory for such a large scale event. Very few people are comfortable these days with that level of formality and it would be kind of the Bride, as their hostess, to make certain everyone understands their roles.

discussing plans

6.       Are there going to be animals at the ceremony? I’m not talking about service animals such as seeing-eye dogs, but sometimes a favorite pet will be included, taking on a postion as ring bearer or something like that. If animals of any kind for whatever reason are included, it is a good idea to have a rehearsal to see how they will react to crowds and noise.


7.       Is this a themed wedding? Are you going with a medieval or renaissance theme, Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville, ‘50’s Rat Pack, Star Trek or Halloween costume party? It is a good idea to rehearse and let people get used to costumes, armor, unusual accessories (swords are unusual, trust me) or anything very out of the ordinary.


As a general rule of thumb, keep this in mind: if there is anyone in your Bridal party who is unfamiliar with or may be in anyway startled or uncomfortable with any elements of your wedding, then you need a rehearsal. Most of the time, the rehearsal is just  to smooth out any kinks and make certain everybody knows where to stand and who with, but very often it is a good idea, if only for the entertainment value.

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