Wedding Rehearsals


The following rehearsal instructions are provided for couples who wish to conduct their own wedding rehearsals without the presence of an officiant:


Seating and Entering the Wedding

At the door of the church or entrance of the ceremony site, wedding programs can be handed to all of the wedding guests.  Seating music can begin to be played.

When coming down the center aisle to where the ceremony will take place, the Bride's friends and family will be seated to the left, and the Groom's friends and family will be seated to the right.

The Groomsmen/Ushers of the wedding party will walk arm-in-arm, escorting women guests to their seats.  The husbands and/or escorts of women guests will follow behind them to their seats.  After the guests are seated, the Groomsmen/Ushers will not turn and go back up the center aisle, but will continue to walk to the front, then exit along the outside perimeter of the seating arrangement.  This is to prevent bumping into the next Groomsman/Usher coming down the aisle.

After the wedding guests are seated, the couple's Grandparents will be seated in the front rows.  Then, the Groom's Mother will be seated.  The Groom's Father will follow behind the Groom's Mother and her escort.  The Groom's Father will sit on the front aisle seat.  The Groom's Mother will sit next to him.

The entire wedding party should keep an eye on one important person....The Bride's Mother - or the last person seated as a witness to the ceremony.  After the Groom's Mother is seated, a chosen Groomsman/Usher will escort the Bride's Mother to her place, which will be the second seat next to the aisle, in the front row of the pews or chairs.

The Bride's Mother is the final person to be seated before the bridal procession begins, and she will sit opposite the Groom's parents.  An empty seat should be made available on the front left-hand aisle seat for the Bride's Father (for when he returns from giving the Bride away).  When the Bride's Mother is seated, the wedding procession may begin.


The Wedding Procession

After the Bride's Mother is seated, the Wedding Minister and Groom take their places at the front where the ceremony will commence.  The two tall candles of the Unity Candle set-up are lit (Candles can be lit by the officiant or the two Mothers of the couple).  Processional music can begin.

The couple have choices regarding the wedding procession.  This is your special day, and the wedding should finally appear to your own tastes and desires.  Here are a few suggestions:

Bridal bouquets are carried just below the waist. 

For Groom and Groomsmen standing at the front where the ceremony will take place - Men should line up behind the Groom, facing wedding guests and with left shoulder closer to guests.  Their hands should be folded in front of themselves.  The Best Man will stand next to the Groom.

The Flower Girl may come down the aisle first, perhaps distributing rose petals as she walks along.

As children reach the front, or place of the ceremony, they are taken out of the procession and brought to the seats of their parents.  An older child may remain at the front, next to the Bridesmaids and Ushers if the couple feels they are mature enough to calmly stand up through the ceremony.

The Bridesmaids then proceed down the aisle.  As the Bridesmaids reach the front, or place of the ceremony, they will stand to the left.  The first Bridesmaid coming down the aisle will be standing farthest away from the Bride.  The second Bridesmaid coming down the aisle will stand next to the first Bridesmaid, but will be closer to where the Bride will stand.  The third Bridesmaid coming down the aisle will stand next to the second Bridesmaid, and will be even closer to where the Bride will stand.  The Maid of Honor will be last woman to come down the aisle and will stand next to the Bride.

If the Bridesmaids and Groomsmen come down the aisle as couples, they will peel off as they approach the place of the ceremony...the Bridesmaids to the left and the Groomsmen to the right.  The Groomsmen will follow the same procedure for standing at the front as the Bridesmaids (mentioned above).

If the couple so decides, the Flower Girl may walk down the aisle at this point, instead of at the start of the procession.  The Ring-Bearer will now come down the aisle.  If he is carrying the actual wedding rings, they must be taken from him by the Best Man and Maid of Honor.  If he is not carrying the actual rings (great idea!), he may be seated with the guests or those who are appointed to care for the children of the wedding party.  By now, the Maid of Honor should be holding the Grooms's Wedding Ring and the Best Man should be holding the Bride's Wedding Ring.  For convenience, the Best Man may be assigned to hold both rings.  In this case, he should place both rings on his smallest finger, and dispose of the ring boxes.

After the bridal party has taken taken their positions at the place of the ceremony and the officiant is ready, the doors of the church/ceremony site are closed.


Here Comes The Bride

The wedding music should now change to "Here Comes the Bride," or to the selection of music chosen by the couple.  Everyone attending the service will stand in honor of the Bride, and the doors of the church/ceremony site will be opened as a greeting to the Bride.

The Bride will take the arm of her Father, or whomever has been chosen to give the Bride away.  They will slowly walk down the aisle together.  When they reach the front where the ceremony will take place, the Bride passes her flowers to the Maid of Honor (who will now be holding two bouquets).

The Father of the Bride will remain standing in back of, but in the center of the couple while The Lord's Prayer is read.  Everyone will remain standing and pray aloud The Lord's Prayer together with the Minister/Officiant.  The Minister will as, "Who brings this woman to marry this man?"  The Father of the Bride will answer, "I do....or Her family and I do."  The Father will then kiss the Bride and shake hands with his future son-in-law - the Groom.  He will then take his seat next to the Mother of the Bride.

At this point, the Minister will take over, guiding the couple through the Marriage Vows, Exchange of Rings, Lighting of the Unity Candle, Blessing of the Marriage and Pronouncement of Marriage.  At the end of the ceremony, the Minister will say, "You may kiss the Bride."  The couple will kiss.  The Maid of Honor will then return the bridal bouquet to the Bride, so that she may carry the flowers away from the ceremony.


Exiting the Ceremony

Appropriate music should be played at this time, such as The Wedding March, Fanfare or Trumpet Tunes.  The Bride and Groom are the first to exit the ceremony; followed by:  The Maid of Honor & Best Man; then, the Bridesmaids and Groomsmen; then, the Parents of the Bride; then, the Parents of the Groom.  The wedding guests will follow the bridal procession to the rear of the church or ceremony site.

A reception line is usually formed in a designated place to greet wedding guests, starting with the Groom's Parents, the Bride's Parents, the Wedding Party, then the Bride and Groom.

If the reception line is held outside, doves or butterflies are released at this time.  Rice, glitter or other materials should not be thrown at the Bride and Groom at this time (usually banned by most churches and venues).



Gathering music is played as wedding guests arrive, enter and are seated.

Seating music is played while.........

  • Groom's Grandparents are seated
  • Groom's Mother is escorted to her seat, followed by Groom's Father.
  • Bride's Grandparents are seated
  • Bride's Mother is seated - a cue for the wedding procession to begin.

NOTE:  For formal weddings held within a church or chapel, the organist may play Westminster Chimes to mark the hour, and as a cue to the wedding minister and all in the wedding party that the wedding procession is about to begin.

Processional music is played while.......

  • Children of the wedding parter enter (or later)
  • First couple or first bridesmaid enter
  • Second couple or second bridesmaid enter
  • Third couple or third bridesmaid enter
  • Maid of Honor enters

Bridal music is played while......

  • Bride enters with her Father or escort

The Lord's Prayer is said, followed by Presentation of Bride to Groom by Bride's Father.

Minister recites ceremony......

  • Vows are said by Groom, then Bride
  • Rings are exchanged by Groom and Bride
  • Lighting of Unity Candle by Groom and Bride
  • Blessing of the Marriage
  • Pronouncement of Husband and Wife

Recessional Music is played while.......

  • Bride & Groom exit first and go to designated area for reception line
  • Best Man & Maid of Honor Exit
  • Wedding Party exits arm-in-arm as couples
  • Bride's Parents exit
  • Groom's Parents exit
  • Wedding guests follow









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