Your wedding rehearsal
Your wedding budget probably has to stretch to cover a great many elements, from the venue to flowers to catering to dress, to musicians, invitations, to the officiant – without whom you would simply be having a very large and very expensive party! From everything I know from the couples I marry, a great deal of thought and research goes into setting and prioritizing that wedding budget.
Don’t economize on your wedding ceremony
Some couples try to economise where they can, even to cut corners, allocating funds to this and then that. Your ceremony is not the place to economize. This is the most important part of the day. Your wedding ceremony is what will live on in your memory, and your guests’, long after the taste of the meal is forgotten or the music fades. Your ceremony is, after all, the most important part of the wedding day. Without the ceremony, you are just partying in fancy clothes.
Even though, when you are planning your wedding, the actual marriage ceremony may seem something you can skim through—please remember that it deserves at least as much time and attention and effort as the other aspects of your wedding day, if not a great deal more so. And in terms of budget, your wedding ceremony will be but a tiny fraction of your overall expenditure, but will repay you in fond memories hundreds of times over.
Have a wedding rehearsal
Holding a wedding rehearsal is an important way to ensure that the ceremony itself runs as smoothly as possible. A wedding rehearsal serves many purposes. It is a chance to do a runthrough of the real things, so that the wedding couple—and everyone who is participating—knows how it feels, how long it takes, and who is standing where, and who is doing what when.
When I plan a wedding rehearsal, I treat it like the dress rehearsal for a show. We go word for word, ritual for ritual, reading for reading, action for action, through the entire ceremony (though the couple do not say their vows, saving them for the day of the actual wedding ceremony and, of course, we do not sign anything). I try to go through the ceremony without stopping, if at all possible. However, the wedding rehearsal is also the time when it is possible to pause to make adjustments, or to rerun any elements so that they go smoothly.
A rehearsal is a chance to practise readings, rituals, processions, and placement of people. It is a chance for you, the wedding couple, to actually hear your ceremony and savour it. On your special day, you will likely be in a state of such euphoria, and so full of adrenaline, that it will rush by you like a dream.
Have fun at the wedding rehearsal
Wedding rehearsals are also very good safety valves. Friends and relations, and you yourselves, may be inclined to show your excitement and joy by goofing off and giving smart aleck answers to questions such as the one about whether you intend to marry each other (the right answer is “I do”) or whether your family and friends give their support to your marriage. It’s okay at the rehearsal to say, “I guess so,” or “maybe.” At the ceremony you want to hear only, and very loudly, “I do,” or “We do!” from your spouse and from all your guests. So the rehearsal is a good place to get the goofiness out and be ready to be happy and joyful, but not goofy or wisecracking, during the ceremony on the day.
If at all possible, have the rehearsal at the venue where your wedding will take place, and if it’s outdoors, at the time of day the ceremony will take place. That way, you can really get the logistics fine-tuned, for placement of people, and position of the sun, so that, for example, no one is looking directly into the sun as they make vows, do readings, or sign wedding registers.
And finally, the rehearsal serves as a virtually failsafe test to be sure that you have all the “props” needed for the actual ceremony, from candles to sand, to wine glasses, coins, ribbons, or whatever you may be planning to give your wedding ceremony a personal flair.
Of course, a rehearsal is not a guarantee that everything will run perfectly or smoothly on the day, but it is an excellent preparation. And besides, it is my experience that there is almost always some little unexpected thing that happens, and almost every time it is something good.