Skylar is a Texas-based wedding planner & designer sharing her sanity-saving processes & templates.


What to Expect: Wedding Rehearsals

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! It’s an exciting time filled with love, anticipation, and, let’s be honest, a touch of chaos. Amidst the whirlwind of wedding planning, it’s easy to overlook one crucial event that can make all the difference on your big day: the wedding rehearsal. The rehearsal is like a secret weapon for ensuring that your wedding ceremony goes off without a hitch, especially if you’re dreaming of a more traditional or elaborate affair.

Think of the rehearsal as a dry run for your “I do” moment. It’s the perfect opportunity for your wedding party to get a sneak peek of the ceremony site, allowing them to figure out where they should stand, what they need to do, and maybe even get some practice in avoiding those happy-tear-induced sniffles. In this blog post, we’re going to outline everything you need to know about the wedding rehearsal: who to invite, when to schedule it (spoiler alert: it’s not the morning of your wedding), and all the details of what goes down during this pre-wedding shindig. So, grab a cup of coffee (or a glass of bubbly—we won’t judge) and get ready to dive into the world of wedding rehearsals. Let’s make sure you and your wedding party are prepared to walk down the aisle!

In the foreground a blurred couple exchange wedding vows. In the background Grand Teton reaches into the sky.
Photography Credit: Cedar & Pine Photography

Who to Invite to your Wedding Rehearsal

Simple answer: anyone involved in the ceremony. If they walk down the aisle or stand at the front at any point during the ceremony, they should be included. This could include:

  • parents/grandparents
  • wedding party members
  • kids
  • ushers
  • officiant
  • singers
  • readers
  • sponsors
  • and the list goes on-and-on.

It ultimately comes down to the type of ceremony you want to have and who all are required to make it happen. If you’re feeling stuck, talk to your coordinator about who they’d recommend you invite for your specific wedding ceremony plans.

A bride places the garland around her groom's neck during their multicultural wedding ceremony.
Photography Credit: Jacquelyn Nicole Photography

When to Have you Wedding Rehearsal

I personally find that day-of rehearsals to be less than ideal. If your planner/coordinator loves them, more power to them. For me, it can be such a weird spot in the day. Often it requires pausing hair & makeup (or having rehearsal without someone) and, if the couple doesn’t want to see each other, there’s a whole other layer of logistical gymnastics happen.

I know some venues only allow day-of rehearsal and in this case, I’ll always make it happen, but they tend to just be less of a quality experience for everyone involved.

In my over 115 weddings worth of experience, I much prefer rehearsal to take place the day before the wedding.

My couples are encouraged to block out a hour of time. At this point, I usually can knock out a rehearsal in about 30 minutes, but between late arrivers and wanting to chit-chat when first gathering, we usually start about 10-15 minutes later than the stated time.

If you a rehearsal dinner or welcome party to attend or host afterward, I recommend it start at least 1.5 hours after the rehearsal start time (depending on travel time) to give us time to mingle, rehearse, wrap-up, and travel without feeling rushed.

A bride and groom kiss while walking up the aisle at their tented wedding ceremony.
Photography Credit: Shelby Tsika Marquardt

What Happens at a Wedding Rehearsal

This will vary from planner-to-planner (and wedding-to-wedding!), but here’s how I like to host rehearsals.

Arrival & Welcome — The couple and guests arrive, mingle, and once everyone is present, I give a short welcome & overview of what to expect (basically this outline).

Standing/Sitting Order — Everyone is lined up at the front or shown where they will sit so they know where they’ll be walking to.

Processional — We get everyone in the order they’ll walk into the ceremony and practice walking to the spots they were just shown.

Ceremony Overview — At this point, I generally give the rehearsal over to the officiant who hits the high points of the ceremony. We’ll talk about when to hand off a bouquet, when to sit/stand for religious ceremonies, and when to look at one another for rings, etc. I also like to take a moment to give the wedding party my top tips for surviving a wedding ceremony ;).

Recessional — The group will practice walking out of the ceremony space.

Once move, even faster! — With one run-through under your belts, we’ll do everything one more time, but without as much stoppage for questions/instructions.

You’re Free to Go — As long as there are no more questions or need to repeat, you’ll be released to enjoy the rest of your day! This end time is a great opportunity to provide any last minute reminders (like when everyone should gather the next day, the address for the rehearsal dinner to put in the GPS, etc.).

A bride and groom wave to their guests as they recess back up the aisle after their church wedding ceremony.
Photography Credit: Angela Sostarich Photography

As you can see, a wedding rehearsal is a vital ingredient for a seamlessly executed ceremony. By now, you have a solid understanding of who to invite, when to have the rehearsal, and what to expect during this important event. But what if you want to take it a step further? What if you’re envisioning a wedding that’s not only flawlessly executed but also beautifully designed, from the smallest details to the grandest moments?

If you’re seeking a planning partner to guide you from the initial concept to the final send-off, then look no further. Skylar Caitlin specializes in memorable, stylish destination weddings that are as fun as they are beautiful. We come alongside you to provide expert guidance, creative vision, and on-site production management to make your dreams a reality.

Schedule a consultation today, and let’s embark on this incredible journey together. We can’t wait to hear your story and bring your wedding dreams to life!

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Photography by Smith House Weddings