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  • Ally Alford

Should I Have a Wedding Rehearsal?

Photo: Alana Lindenfeld Photography

Ceremony rehearsals and rehearsal dinners are very common when it comes to weddings. It allows for you and your family to come together before the big day. But, the question is, do we really need them? I started a deep dive on Tik Tok the other day, scrolling through videos saying, “What I will NOT have at my wedding” or “What we did at our wedding that you may want to do too!” One of them that I saw talked about rehearsal dinners and how this specific couple decided to opt-out of it. You should have seen the comments: “What?? No rehearsal dinner??” “Why wouldn’t you have a rehearsal dinner?” So, is it really necessary? Let’s break this down by separating ceremony rehearsals from rehearsal dinners.

Ceremony rehearsals can be very beneficial, and if you are getting married at a church, it may be required that you do a rehearsal. It gives you the opportunity to practice how you will process and recess as well as get comfortable with the ceremony order and script. If you’re getting married at a venue, there are a few scenarios in which I would recommend having a ceremony rehearsal. First, if you have a larger wedding party or have kiddos in your processional, it’s helpful to run through everything so they have an idea of what will happen on the wedding day. Or, if you have a more involved ceremony (for example, the wedding party members will perform certain traditions, parents are assisting with a unity ceremony, etc.), it’s helpful to rehearse these so everyone involved is comfortable for the actual ceremony. Also, if your officiant is a family member or friend who hasn’t officiated a wedding before, doing a ceremony rehearsal can help them get rid of some of those pre-wedding jitters.

Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to do your ceremony rehearsal the day before your wedding! Some venues don’t allow them or require you to pay extra to host them in their space. If you are doing a first look on the wedding day, we can usually schedule in some time when you arrive at the venue to do a quick ceremony rehearsal. The downside to this is that we typically won’t have as much time to rehearse since we’ll need to tuck the couple away prior to guest arrival. But this can be a great option if you just need a quick run-through of things! If you opt not to have a formal ceremony rehearsal at all, I recommend at least talking through the order of things with your wedding party and anyone involved in the ceremony, and/or putting together a diagram so they know when they’re processing/recessing and where they’ll be standing. If you have a planner or coordinator, they can help you put this together!

Now, let’s talk about rehearsal dinners and the pros and cons. Rehearsal dinners can be a great opportunity to spend the night with out-of-town guests and family and just enjoy each other's company. At my sister's wedding, this was an opportunity for parents to give speeches so that we can do fewer speeches on the wedding day (which I think is a genius idea!). Additionally, it is a more casual setting for guests to get to know one another, and you could even choose a restaurant that is special to you as a couple!

However, let’s talk about some cons. Obviously, your rehearsal dinner is going to be an added expense. Depending on the style and formality of your rehearsal dinner, we typically see these costs ranging from $1,500 to $3,500. Of course, there are always ways to cut back those costs, and just like with weddings, your guest count is going to be the greatest determinant of how much you’ll spend. Some couples do not think they need to do a night with everyone when the following day they will get to. And if the vibe of your wedding weekend is more casual, remember that you don’t have to have a formal rehearsal dinner at a restaurant. Let’s talk about some things you could do INSTEAD of a rehearsal dinner (or even in addition to!):

  • A casual welcome party

  • A potluck

  • A relaxing day with your wedding party

  • A get-together at a local bar, and many more!

Overall, there are many ways that you can make rehearsals more casual, but in the end, neither a ceremony rehearsal nor a rehearsal dinner is a requirement. It is your wedding, so it is up to YOU!

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