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Wedding Preparation: The Rehearsal

Mar 15, 2008
The betrothed have usually had ample occupation in planning and preparing for the wedding. During the planning stages all major decisions are reached, all arrangements completed. Then the rehearsal follows, and finally - the wedding!

The Rehearsal

Everyone who will participate in the wedding is supposed to attend the rehearsal - the bride, the groom, honor attendants, best man, bridesmaids, ushers, children who will have any part, the bride's parents, the groom's parents, the clergyman (or clergymen, if more than one), the sexton, the organist, soloists or choir.

It is quite important to have a rehearsal. We know of a case where the wedding was to be in the home, that the clergyman did not think a rehearsal necessary, and the family did not know what to do without him. On the day of the wedding, ten minutes before the ceremony, the clergyman was telling everyone what to do and no one knew anything for certain. Everyone was nervous. The final result? Bedlam! This need never be.

Usually the rehearsal is held in church the night before the wedding, but it may be a day or so before. In the case of a Protestant ceremony, with no unusual procedures, the rehearsal will probably last no longer than an hour. For longer services, or in cases where some of the members of the wedding party will need instructions about procedures in a faith that is not their own, the rehearsal may last longer.

If there is to be a special candle lighting service, this should be rehearsed first. Ordinarily the tapers are lighted by a staff member of the church approximately a half-hour before the ceremony. Otherwise there are times when two young girls, or young men, friends or relatives of the bride and groom, make a special ceremonial march up the aisle and light the candles shortly before the two mothers are seated.

When the musical selection is concluded, the actual marriage ceremony takes place. During the rehearsal, the clergyman usually does not read the marriage service. He does explain to participants what will happen, and when, and gives them cues for their participation. Also, during the ceremony on the wedding day, the clergyman is wonderfully helpful about whispering and indicating what to do, in case anyone forgets. The bride and groom should try to speak clearly and audibly in repeating their vows and look directly at each other. The best man will produce the bride's ring at the appointed time (or take it from the ring bearer's pillow). If it is a double ring ceremony, the maid-of-honor will produce the groom's ring.


1. It is important to remember that when you are instructed to turn, always turn so that you face the altar as you do so.

2. It is very helpful to have the formation of the receiving line clearly understood before the reception. (The rehearsal might be a good time to discuss this.)

3. The bride never wears her engagement ring on her third finger, left hand for the marriage ceremony as the wedding ring must not be put on top of the engagement ring. Usually she wears it on her right hand under her glove. The ring finger on the left hand is customarily split to leave that finger exposed for the ring ceremony. The bride groom usually slips the engagement ring back on the bride's third finger left hand, over her wedding ring, in the car on the way to the reception.

4. Traditionally, the groom does not see the bride on her wedding day before the ceremony.

If you have had a rehearsal, most of the fine tuning for the wedding can be accomplished so that the big day goes ahead without a hitch.
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