Thursday, August 4, 2011

Step 94 - Coordinate Wedding Rehearsal Day Activities

(2 Weeks to 4 Weeks before the Wedding)
As you get to about one month before the wedding day, the bride needs to make contact with those involved in the planning of the Rehearsal Day Activities. First the bride needs to contact the officiant or wedding planner or whomever is coordinating the wedding ceremony to discuss and come to an agreement as to what time the wedding rehearsal is to begin and to finalize discussions on how and where any wedding ceremony decorations will be and where they will be placed. The wedding rehearsal practice generally occurs at the wedding ceremony site.

After contacting and coming to agreement on the wedding rehearsal time, the bride needs to reach out to whomever is responsible for planning the rehearsal dinner which is traditionally the groom's family, but also can be handled by someone other in the bridal family should cost or distance become an imposition. Generally the rehearsal dinner is held at a restaurant, banquet hall, private home, or a beautiful park and the location should be close to the ceremony site, ideally be not more than 15 minutes away but at the most be 30 minutes away from the ceremony site.

Wedding rehearsals are an exciting prelude to the wedding day. The wedding rehearsal is normally the start of what's considered the wedding period. The wedding rehearsal is a gathering of the total bridal party to work out many of the details of the wedding ceremony. Most wedding rehearsals take place at the location where the wedding ceremony is to be held, they tend to be held in the early evening but sometimes you may have to work around activities at the ceremony site, some locations are dealing with multiple weddings in a day and other activities may take place at the wedding location too. You are best to book early for the time and day you want the wedding rehearsal to be, so that another party does not block you out. Talk to the ceremony site early on during the wedding planning process to find out far in advance for when you would be safe to book the wedding rehearsal practice, your officiant usually can give you an idea for how far in advance for when you should book the location.

Everyone who participates in the wedding should also attend the wedding rehearsal practice. The wedding party should include the bride, groom, officiant, maid of honor, bridesmaids, best man, groomsmen, flower girl(s), and ring bearer(s). Also who should be in attendance should be readers, musicians, possibly photographers, videographers which need vantage points for pictures and taping and others who have duties such as ushers, and maintenance people who direct seating, passing out programs, lay out the aisle runner, and set up lighting and sound equipment. The parents of the bride and groom often attend the rehearsal to oversee that the wedding ceremony practice goes well.

The officiant or wedding planner will work out all movements, to each segment of the wedding, starting with the processional of the bridal party (will the groomsmen and bridesmen walk in together or will the groomsmen come in the side and the bridemaids walk in themselves). The practice continues with the flower girl and ring bearers entrance, followed by the bride and the person giving her away which is usually the bride's dad.

The practice also is held to handle logistics of the wedding ceremony. The timing and positioning as to where the entire bridal is to stand during all parts of the ceremony, also cues are given when music is played and by what musicians, also cues to readers, lighting of the unity candle, and practicing of the wedding vows. (Note; usually the vows are just started with the bride and groom and not fully gone into, in order for the bride and groom's recitation to be more meaningful). Other matters need to be covered too, such as how to hold the wedding bouquets, how to handle and put on the wedding ring, how and who seats important people (parents and grandparents) at the wedding, and where ushers should stand when handing out wedding programs. Finally the recessional is practiced on how the bridal party should exit the wedding ceremony.

The wedding ceremony practice is used to time how long the processional and recessional shall take to time it along with the musical selections and how far apart the bridesmaids, flower girl(s), ring bearer(s), and bride should be, so music and pacing of bridesmaids and brides comes together. Usually most wedding rehearsal practices takes are done in three takes, and should be done at the most in five takes. The wedding rehearsal is a practice for the wedding, it's not a one act play, the practice doe not have to be perfect, you want everybody to leave in an upbeat joyful good mood as you want a good feeling in the air as everyone goes off to the rehearsal dinner.

Also in attendance, at the wedding rehearsal practice might be readers, musicians, photographers, and videographers. Any matters that need to be addressed with others that aren't in the bridal party should be handled before or after the wedding rehearsal practice. You don't want to have to interrupt the wedding ceremony practice to address other wedding vendor concerns, often there is limited time for the practice, you want everybody timely off to the wedding reception dinner and you don't want late nights for the wedding party.

The young children participating in the wedding needs special instruction for the event. Very often this will be their first wedding, be clear in explaining their roles and responsibilities and demonstrate exactly what they are expected to do. Arrange for a familiar face (trusted family or friend) to always be in view. Have a "Plan B" available should they become frightened at the wedding. The recommended age for the flower girl and ring bearer is between the ages of 5 to 8, age 10 at the max.

After the wedding rehearsal practice is the wedding rehearsal dinner. Tradition states that the rehearsal dinner should be different (different color, theme, style of food, decorations) than the wedding reception. The event does not have to be formal or stressful. It is a time for celebrating, to thanks those people that have been special in the groom's and bride's lives and also a chance for the two families to get to know each other a little before the big day. The rehearsal dinner can be a formal dinner, a barbecue, Hawaiian luau, clam bake, or even just an hors d'oeuvre party.

Often, the groom's mother does the planning for the rehearsal dinner, but it also can be planned by virtually anybody in the groom's or bride's family. First ask the groom's family if they will plan and pay for the rehearsal dinner and if not see who in the family can cover the affair. Traditionally, all members of the bridal party are invited including the groom and the bride, maid of honor, all the bridesmaids, best man, all the groomsmen, the  flower girl (optional) and her parents, the ring bearer (optional) and his parents, the groom's parents, the bride's parents, remarried divorced parents too, the officiant and their spouse, the groom's parents, groom's close siblings and their family, the bride's parents, bride's close siblings and their family, all the grandparent's on both sides of the family and any special out of town guests.

The rehearsal dinner is usually set up so guests can mingle some, for about 30 minutes, and then eventually all called to the table for dinner. Depending on how many guests there are you can decide on assigned seating or not. Usually assigned seating is recommended if you have many more than 50 guests.

Directly after dinner, the best man usually acts the emcee (or could be groom's father) who usually gives a speech and toast to the wedding couple. Then speeches and toasts go around to the bride's dad, then to the maid of honor and any other family member's or guests to offer a speech and a toast. The emcee of the evening should be allowed to talk five minutes and other guests toasts should be no more than two minutes. Finally the groom and bride might give speeches and toasts to those in attendance to the rehearsal dinner and thank their parent's for all they've done for them and to thank others for being special and to thank those that have helped in the wedding planning.

In recent years, the wedding rehearsal dinner features a groomsman cake. The groomsman cake is sometimes provided by the grooms family, and sometimes provided by the bride, if none of those two brings one somebody in the bridal party could volunteer and bring one. The groomsman cake is suppose to be a masculine cake, it is suppose to loaded up with a flavor that is the groom loves, could be chocolate, carrot, spice, strawberry, or a cake filled with the groom's favorite liqueur. The cake should be decorated in a masculine way, is thought of as the anti wedding cake. Some of these cakes are decorated as a tiered wedding cake in chocolate or the cake may be decorated with a sports theme (football, basketball, hockey, baseball, soccer, golf, etc), hobby, landscape art, alma mater jersey or logo, wedding rehearsal theme, sculpture, hat, abstract, or the top can be decorated as a field or stadium or even have an icing photo of the groom or wedding couple.

Also at the wedding rehearsal dinner, it often is a good time to give out groomsmen and bridesmaid gifts or favors. The favors are a special token for being part of the wedding and for being special in the couple's lives. The bridesmaid gifts sometimes be given out at the brides house when all the bridesmaids meet at the bride's house the next morning.

Often at rehearsal dinners there is family bonding. Some rehearsal dinners feature a slide show or movie about the wedding couple or may feature a table with pictures of the couple or feature a photo album of both their childhoods. Some wedding couples decide to even decorate the event with a color scheme or to a wedding theme. Often though the event is less formal than the wedding and more often than not couples are not expected to dress up. If activities are planned and the event is held at a restaurant or banquet hall, the event is best to be held in a private area, for the wedding speeches and toasts and formal events would be disruptive to the running of the business.

Some of the rehearsal dinners may be an informal event. Some rehearsal dinners can be held at a bowling alley and even some golfing families consider playing a family golf tournament and then have a barbecue or dinner after the outing. Still others have a friendly competition in a private home or estate backyard. Have the two families competing in some outdoor activities such as volleyball, bocce ball, horseshoes, croquet, basketball, badminton, and trivial pursuit. Winner takes the trophy.

Very often at rehearsal dinners, many relatives are meeting for the first time. Some ice breakers help to get the two families communicating. Games help break the ice, one game is called "Famous Person". As each guest enters the wedding reception an assigned person, usually the best man for the groom's family and the maid of honor for the bride's family, informs each guest what famous person they most look like and that person's name is taped to the back of their shirt, suit, or dress. The guests go around the room and ask questions to each guest without looking and ask questions until they come up with the famous person's name.

Another fun game for wedding rehearsal dinners is called "Who Does What?" The groom and bride sit in chairs facing opposite from each other and each holds a his and her shoe. The best man or maid of honor then asks the wedding couple a number of questions and whoever's responsibility it is to perform the duty either the groom or bride you must raise their shoe. After all the questions are asked the emcee asking the questions reviews all the answers and what duties have to be agreed to yet.

Example Questions for "Who Does What?"

Who most often takes out the trash?
Who controls the remote?
Who answers the phone first?
Who talks the most about having babies?
Who picks out the new car?
Who is first in the shower?
Who is responsible for naming the kids?
Who changes the diapers?
Who is responsible for making the coffee?
Who is responsible for making the bed?
Who is responsible for doing the laundry?
Who is responsible for washing the dishes?
Who is responsible for walking the dog?
Who is responsible for helping the kids with their homework?
Who does most of the cooking?
Who is responsible for shopping for presents?
Who is responsible for scolding the kids?
Who is responsible for grocery shopping?
Who handles the yard work?
Who is responsible for ironing the clothes?
Who plans the days activities?
Who most wants to get married?

Another game can be a trivial pursuit game either a variation of trivial pursuit about the couple, each couple could be asked questions separately or a movie or slideshow could be run first and then trivial pursuit questions could be asked about the couple, or trivial pursuit cards maybe about 6 could be left at each table and the couples could have fun asking questions of each other.

The important thing to note with any game playing, if the next day is the wedding, you don't want to make it a light night for the wedding couple, they should not be kept late, the next day is the wedding and you want them and the wedding party to be in good condition for their "Big" day.

Lastly, remember the Rehearsal Dinner is the first time people are meeting and often their first impression of people, you don't want any activities or speeches to be an embarrassment to anyone and it's not a good time for inside jokes, you want both families to have a good impression of each other and the object is to create an expanded happy family. So enjoy your rehearsal dinner, your wedding, and wedding reception, it should be the most enjoyable time of your lives.

See you on the other side!

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