Updated: Nov 13, 2020
And we're back! Time for Part 2 of our blog series, Coordinator Confidential, where we answer some of the biggest questions from our couples over the years. Today we're talking about the wedding rehearsal, and while it may seem like one of the easier parts of the wedding process, planning this essential step has been a major source of stress for many of our past brides. So we're here with the coordinator's perspective on some things to think about and best practices to follow for a stress-free wedding rehearsal!
There are many reasons why rehearsal day can often be one of the most stressful days of your journey. Your out of town guests and bridal party members are likely arriving to town that day, so travel-related headaches and disrupted schedules will inevitably crop up. People will be calling you all day to find out where the venue is, where the rehearsal dinner is happening, when they have to be there, and so on. The rehearsal day is also when most couples will drop off their decor items to the venue, and many times they are coming with different family members and different parts are being built into their final forms at the last minute. It's enough to drive a couple crazy. Not to mention at some point, everyone just wants to get on with the dinner and partying, but there is work to be done first!
As with everything along the wedding planning journey, difficulties will pop up when you least expect them. You can only control certain things, so having those details locked in will make it much easier to deal with the craziness you can't see coming. Let's start with scheduling your rehearsal.
The first thing to consider is the time of year. If your wedding is happening during peak wedding season, which in Florida traditionally runs from February through May and then September through December, you'll be a little more restricted on days and times you can hold the rehearsal. This is especially true if the ceremony is taking place at the same venue as the reception, because those venues will likely have one or two weddings per day every Friday through Sunday. You may be looking at a mid-week rehearsal or a late morning/early afternoon rehearsal on a Friday or Saturday. It will all be based on the venue's event schedule, because most venues aren't large enough to allow your party to rehearse while another wedding is going on at the property.
Next, it is vitally important that you communicate early and often with your coordinator when scheduling the rehearsal. Your coordinator will be the one organizing and running the events of that day, so you need to make sure they are not booked elsewhere when your rehearsal is planned. It is a good idea to confirm the coordinator's availability before you even talk to the venue about scheduling the actual rehearsal, just to make sure everyone is on the same page and minimal rescheduling is required. Now that we've said all that, remember that your schedule matters too. The rehearsal dinner and events surrounding that are some of the best parts of the entire wedding experience, so you can and should enjoy planning and scheduling those at a time that fits your friends and family. You don't have to wait around for the rehearsal to be scheduled before you plan the other stuff, as it is the job of the venue and coordinator to work with your schedule as much as possible. Communication goes a long way here as well, so it never hurts to share your ideas for the dinner(or breakfast/lunch/brunch/etc!) with the coordinator and let them advise you on what the venues are likely to have available. Most coordinators have worked extensively with all the venues in the area and can tell you how they usually operate when trying to schedule these things. These kinds of details and stress-saving moments are why you have a coordinator, so make sure you lean on them when you need it!
For the day of the rehearsal, you will be scheduled for a one hour window to get everything done. With the travel delays and general life happenings that we mentioned earlier, it doesn't hurt to tell your wedding party to arrive 15 minutes early. That should result in them being there exactly on time! Since this is likely to be the first time many of your friends and family are meeting, figure that the first half of the hour rehearsal will be taken up with introductions, catching up with family, and that sort of thing. Once that settles down, your coordinator will take everyone on a quick tour of the grounds so the group knows where everything is on the big day. The rest of the time will be spent on the rehearsal itself, with practice including lining up before the ceremony, everyone walking into the ceremony (the processional) and leaving the ceremony once the vows are said (the recessional). You won't have to worry about practicing and remembering entries into the reception, as your coordinator or DJ will handle that for you on the day of the wedding!
It is always helpful for your officiant to rehearse with you and your wedding party, so try to schedule them to be there with you as well. You also want to be strategic with your planning if you have children or animals as part of the wedding. Attention spans for both of those groups are short, so you may want to have them show up a bit later into the one-hour rehearsal window to ensure you have them at their most attentive for the parts of the rehearsal that matter most!
Thank you for checking out the latest in our series, Coordinator Confidential! For more great advice and fantastic real weddings you can check out the rest of our blog posts here, and you can contact us with questions here. We would love to quote any of our coordination and entertainment services for you!