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Is A Wedding Rehearsal Necessary? [And Why You May Want One]

Weddings are expensive; there is no way around it, unfortunately. The wedding day itself is one thing, but what about the other events associated with getting married? Rehearsal dinners can add to the costs of your wedding budget but are they truly necessary? I spent some time learning all about this event and whether or not you can do without one.

So, is a wedding rehearsal necessary? There is no obligation to have a wedding rehearsal; it is not compulsory or considered to be an absolute must. However, it is generally advised to have one, especially for big weddings with lots of participants or more formal affairs. A rehearsal sets expectations, helps to finalize the finer details, gives an opportunity to work through misunderstandings and makes sure that everyone know what to do, and when.

Consider the wedding rehearsal as your practice ceremony.

In terms of who attends – its a combination of the officiant, wedding manager and wedding planner and/or wedding coordinator – whom will help you run through each part of the ceremony.

Guests are, obviously, not invited but the bride and groom and all participants in the processional and recessional are present.

Whether you decide to have a wedding rehearsal largely depends on your preferences. There are no strict rules saying you have to have one.

In fact, if you are having a smaller ceremony, without any traditional customs, special readings or with few children in attendance, they are considered to be less important.

Nevertheless, there are benefits for everyone involved. It gives everyone direction, and runs through the nuances such as where people should stand, when to sit, what to do with their hands etc.

Let us now take a closer look at the event itself, when you are likely to have one, its importance, how long they take, who attends the finer details of what to wear.

When Do You Have A Wedding Rehearsal?

The wedding rehearsal is usually held a day or two before the ceremony. It provides practice and a run-through of the actual ceremony, and is typically followed by a rehearsal dinner. The rehearsals are meant for the bride and groom, the wedding party and their partners and immediate family members.

It is important to practice the ceremony as close to the day as possible, especially if there are children participating.

This will help to ensure that people remember what they need to do, when and how whe the big day comes around.

Its also helps to build excitement and enthusiasm for the wedding day.

How Important Is A Wedding Rehearsal?

Generally speaking, a wedding rehearsal is considered to be important and helpful. Having one will ensure that everyone is familiar of their part, what is expected of them, and when.

It will certainly help the day run smoothly – ironing out the finer details and helping the bride and groom to feel much more at ease and confident that everything will go according to plan.

Besides there are tiny details that can make a big difference on how all the wedding photos come out; such as how high the bridesmaids need to hold their bouquets, where the groomsmen need to place their hands etc.

When the wedding is in full swing on the day itself; these details cannot be addressed in the moment!

A wedding rehearsal is also important because it provides an opportunity for family members from both sides of the family, along with close friends, to meet ahead of the event.

They can socialize and get to know one another (for those who have not met before), and build some connection before the big day.

If you decide to have a wedding rehearsal, though, you do need to consider your budget.

A rehearsal will essentially mean booking the venue for some additional hours the day before, plus you will need to consider the rehearsal dinner.

Both can be quite hefty on your finances, especially if you have planned a large wedding.

Benefits of Having A Wedding Rehearsal

Whether or not you decide to have a wedding rehearsal will depend on your own circumstances.

That being said, there are some general benefits to holding one, for weddings of any size.

Let us now take a closer look at the main ones:

Help Ease The Tension

The rehearsal is a great opportunity to prepare everyone, and relieve any tensions that they may be having.

It helps to talk things through in a practice environment, with the support and experience of the wedding planner/coordinator, and gives an opportunity for the bride and groom to make any requests.

Sets Expectations

Generally in life, people are nervous by the unknown.

If you run through the whole ceremony the day before, you can help take away this uncertainty which can help calm people when the day comes around.

Gain Familiarity Of The Venue

A wedding rehearsal is chance for every participant to get to know the venue and familiarize themselves with where they need to be, and when.

This is not the kind of thing you want to unfold on the day itself; it can get chaotic, and quickly. Not what you want during the ceremony!

Eases Your Guests Of Honor

The guests of honor are the couple’s parents, close friends and any other special immediate family members. They will sit in the front rows, closest to bride and groom.

But what seats exactly, and on which side?!

A rehearsal shows them where exactly where they need to go, and when.

If they are part of the processional, they will be aware of when and how to walk.

The Children Get Practice

Usually, the children that participate in a wedding ceremony are the ring bearer, the flower girl and junior bridesmaids (between 12 and 16 years of age).

A rehearsal gives them a great opportunity to understand what they need to do – with the younger ones being less likely to understand their responsibilities fully at their age.

This will give them a perspective and help to prevent any last minute hiccups on the day istelf.

The Rings, Vows and Signing

A rehearsal allows the couple to practice their vows in a similar environment, as well as the ring exchange and placing their signatures.

How Long Does A Wedding Rehearsal Take?

Typically, a wedding rehearsal takes between 30 and 45 minutes. That is, if all invited people arrive on time and the rehearsal goes smoothly without any unexpected setbacks.

It is very important to be able to rely on your wedding coordinator, as they will be responsible for the schedule, ensuring every aspect runs on time, and in accordance with your booking at the venue.

A rehearsal usually starts around 5.30pm-6pm, with the dinner starting around 7pm.

Although these are just average times, and can be adjusted to suit preferences accordingly (and depending on the availability of the venue).

For the most part, an evening wedding rehearsal generally makes sense.

It gives people sufficient time to prepare, get to the venue on time, and can help to prevent the need to take the day off from work.

If possible, and if your wedding is planned to take place over the weekend, try to organize the rehearsal on the Friday.

Who Goes To A Wedding Rehearsal?

Simply put, everyone who will participate in the ceremony should attend the wedding rehearsal. From there, close family members, such as the mothers and fathers of the bride and groom, should also be there.

The typical attendees of a wedding rehearsal are:

  • The bride
  • The groom
  • The couple’s parents
  • The couple’s siblings
  • Bridesmaids
  • Groomsmen
  • Best Man
  • Flower girl and ring bearer (if any)
  • Officiant

If all of these people will be present at the ceremony, then it is highly recommendable to have them at the rehearsal as well.

What Should You Wear At A Wedding Rehearsal?

A wedding rehearsal is only a practice and not a formal event. Unless, otherwise stated at the invitation, attendees do not have to dress too formally.

A nice dress for the ladies, and a nice pair of pants, a shirt and a blazer for the gents perfectly fit a rehearsal.

If the rehearsal is held in a garden, on the beach or at some other outdoor location, then very casual dressing is advised.

Jeans are acceptable, along with shorts and slippers in the case of a beach wedding rehearsal.

If you are in doubt, ask the couple (or whoever has sent the invitation) about the required dress code.

Generally for events, whenever a formal wear is required, the invitation will clearly state it.

Who Pays For The Wedding Rehearsal And Dinner?

The wedding rehearsal ceremony is usually paid for by the bride and groom, although traditionally it has been paid for by the brides parents.

The rehearsal dinner that follows, is then traditionally paid for by the groom’s parents. They traditionally not only pay, but also organize the dinner.

That being said, times have certainly changed and it is becoming more common for the bride and groom to pick up both expenses.

Can You Decline A Wedding Rehearsal Invitation?

If you are a part of the ceremony, and are especially invited to the wedding rehearsal, it is not a good idea to skip it. Unless you have a very respectful reason to do so, or something serious or unavoidable comes up at the last minute.

After all, the rehearsal is considered important, and those honored with a special place in the ceremony, owe it to the couple to attend and learn of what is expected of them.

Tips For A Better Wedding Rehearsal

It is recommendable to consider some of the following tips to help ensure sure that your rehearsal runs to plan is of benefit.

While the rehearsal is the time to make mistakes, it does need to be a success overall.

Otherwise, it can fuel any stress and anxiety, or even add to the confusion.

So, to ensure your rehearsal is a success, consider the following:

  • Hire a reputable wedding coordinator; you can really learn from and leverage their knowledge and experience. They can handle some of those things you may not be able, prepared to do, and ensure you can focus on what matters during the event.
  • Prepare your participants in advance; for instance, the members of the processional need to know who they are walking down the aisle with.
  • Understand the venue; take a look at the venue plan, and identify where the processional is going to enter from. Speak to the venue managers and see what they advise and recommend.
  • Decide on the order of the processional; the members of the processional need to enter in a certain order: for example, the first is the officiant followed by the groom, his parents, etc. The last ones are the ring bearer and the flower girl and finally the bride with her escort. A processional involves many people so its important that you have this mapped out all in advance.
  • Discuss the order of events with your officiant – to set expectations.
  • Decide if you will have a receiving line for greetings after the ceremony – If yes, then you have to discuss how and from where the line is going to be organized. Remember, it has to be of convenience to the guests, too.

Planning these details out in advance will help to ensure the smooth running of both the wedding rehearsal, but also of the ceremony itself.


Ultimately, a wedding rehearsal is not absolutely necessary – but it is recommendable.

Besides, we want everyone to be confident and be aware of their expectations and responsibilities – not leaving anything to chance or to guessing.

While it is usually more beneficial for larger or more complicated weddings, such as those with around 100 guests and above, it does serve a purpose to weddings of all sizes.

Remember; the rehearsal is a practice – it gives a perspective of what to expect from the ceremony the next day.

It should not spoil the magic of the wedding day, if anything, adding to the excitement!

Related Questions

Who Needs A Wedding Rehearsal?

Ideally, everyone getting married should have a wedding rehearsal. Although the longer and more complicated the ceremony, or more participants involved, the more important they are considered to be.

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