If you are planning a wedding, you will most likely have a ceremony rehearsal. This typically happens 1-2 days before the wedding. Your bridal party, parents, and anyone involved in the ceremony will get together at your ceremony location and practice for the big day. But more times than not, this get-together turns into a time waster. Follow these ten simple rules to ensure you get the most out of your rehearsal!
Rule # 1: Involve some of your vendors.
Your vendors should play a part in your rehearsal. The following vendors should attend: your officiant, your venue coordinator or someone from the venue, and your wedding planner. Make sure all of those people can attend before you schedule, as one of them should be in charge of the rehearsal. Sometimes couples will invite their ceremony musicians to practice at the rehearsal, although it is not totally necessary.
If you do not know your officiant very well (or at all), schedule a time to meet with them before your rehearsal. An officiant can help craft the ceremony for you, or at least give you some guidance.
Rule #2: Make this a formal affair.
Everyone who is invited should receive an invitation. By sending a formal invitation, you set the mood for the event. Guests will take this a little more seriously if they get an invitation in the mail. Make sure your guests know their expected arrival time. One person running late holds everyone else up. You should also invite everyone to dinner (or a meal) afterwards as a "thank you" for being a part of your special day. Traditionally, the groom's family pays for the rehearsal dinner, although every situation is different.
Rule #3: Make the most of your time.
If you're going to be at your reception venue, use this opportunity to do a quick walk-through, or plan a meeting with your venue coordinator to finalize details. If your wedding is in the next day or so, ask ahead of time if you can bring all of your decor to the rehearsal so you don't have to make an extra trip.
Rule #4: Prepare your items ahead of time.
Print out readings for your readers, and have the readers stand up and read during the rehearsal so they can practice. Planning on doing a sand ceremony? Bring the vases with you and practice that part of the ceremony! Having a aisle runner? Who will be in charge of this? Those people should practice rolling it out. Plan these items ahead of time to make sure there is no confusion on your big day.
Rule #5: Have little ones practice.
If you are having a flower girl or ring bearer in your wedding, make sure they have time to practice, and don't rush them. Little ones tend to get very nervous or shy right before they walk down the aisle. Give them plenty of time to practice walking so they get used to what they will be doing. If they will be holding a sign or a basket, bring that to the rehearsal and let them carry it.
Rule #6: Make sure you are inviting the right people.
Here is who you need to invite to your rehearsal: parents, grandparents, bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls, ring bearers, and readers. (and your vendors mentioned in Rule #1). If someone is not playing a part in your ceremony they don't need to be invited, unless they are the guest of someone who is, or they are a parent of a little one who is involved (like a ring bearer). You can invite more people to dinner afterwards, but they do not necessarily need to be invited to the rehearsal.
Rule #7: Practice standing and walking.
Sounds silly, right? But this is what a rehearsal is for! Your bridal party should practice entering the ceremony (known as the processional) and exiting (know as the recessional). There is correct order to follow, and a correct way to stand at the altar. There is a "bride's side" and a "groom's side". For Catholic and Christian ceremonies, the bride's side is to the left and the groom's side is to the right. During the ceremony the bride should always stand to the left and the groom to the right. The opposite happens during a Jewish ceremony. This is where your officiant or wedding planner can help.
*Wedding Planner Tip: If you are having an outdoor ceremony, wear the shoes you will be wearing on your wedding day. This will give you a chance to break them in, while practicing walking in those heels!
Rule #8: Make sure parents and grandparents are in the know.
Traditionally, grandparents and parents will walk down the aisle and there is a correct order for this. Grandparents of the groom will go first, followed by grandparents of the bride. Then the parents of the groom will walk, followed by the mother of the bride and her escort. The grooms family should be seated in the first pew to the right (groom's side) and the bride's family should be seated in the first pew to the left (bride's side). Jewish ceremonies follow a different order. Step-parents and step-grandparents should be included in the processional, although we realize every family situation is different. That decision is ultimately made by the engaged couple. Whatever you decide, make sure all parents and grandparents practice this order during your rehearsal.
Rule #9: Have your ceremony finalized before your rehearsal.
The rehearsal should just be practice for what you have already planned. You should not be making any major decisions during your rehearsal. Readings, passages, and scriptures should all be decided on ahead of time. Escorts should be decided on ahead of time. The order of your bridesmaids and groomsmen should be finalized before hand. If your ceremony lasts longer than 40 minutes, something has gone wrong. Even a rehearsal for a traditional Jewish ceremony or a full Catholic mass should not take longer than 30-40 minutes to practice. Most rehearsals take 20 minutes, once everyone has arrived. The better you plan ahead of time, the smoother your rehearsal, and ultimately your ceremony will go.
Rule #10: Make sure the Bridal Party knows they have some duties.
Your bridal party will play a small part in your ceremony. Make sure your Maid of Honor or Matron of Honor knows she will have to hold your bouquet, and fix your dress and veil during the ceremony. The Best Man should be in charge of the rings, which the officiant will ask for at one point during the ceremony. These are not huge responsibilities, but these people should know what their job is either before or during the rehearsal.
Most of all (and this isn't a "rule"), have fun and enjoy this time. At this point in the wedding planning process things seem crazy and stressful, but you will look back on this day with fond memories. I still have the dress I wore to my ceremony rehearsal over six years ago. It doesn't fit me anymore (it probably will never fit again after 2 kids!) but I still keep it around for sentimental reasons. It was a day, other than my wedding day, where my friends and family came together to celebrate my husband and I.
If you do get overwhelmed, reach out to your wedding planner, officiant, or venue coordinator. These people should be able to guide you on how to plan your ceremony.
Recently, I was working with a client and we were deciding whether she and her fiancé should do a receiving line. We came up with a list of pros and cons, and in the end, she opted not to. However, some of my couples do chose to do a receiving line after their ceremony. Six years ago at my own wedding, my husband and I chose to do a receiving line and it worked to our advantage, but it's not for every couple. I'll take you through some pros and cons of a receiving line to help you decide if it's right for you.
A receiving line is done immediately following your ceremony. Basically, the couple walks down the aisle for the first time as a married couple. They only walk to the back of the church or the back of their ceremony location. They stand there and wait for their guests to walk down the aisle to greet them. Guests will form a line to offer their congratulations to the new couple.
One of the benefits of doing a receiving line is that you get to formally say "hello" to all of your guests before your reception starts. This can eliminate the need to go around to all of your tables during the reception-- although proper etiquette would tell you to still do both.
One downside of doing a receiving line is that it eats up a lot of time- especially if you have a large wedding. Some guests will want to talk to you for several minutes, holding up the line. If you are pressed for time you need to take this into consideration.
Here's where I see a lot of couple opt to do a receiving line: You are getting married in a church at 2pm, then cocktail starts at 5pm somewhere else. This leaves you with a lot of time to get pictures taken, and time to say hello to all of your guests.
Here's when I suggest you don't do a receiving line: Your ceremony and reception are at the same venue, and you only have the venue for a total of 5 or 6 hours. You are pressed for time and your only option for bridal portraits is between your ceremony and reception...and you actually want to be at your cocktail hour.
Also, if you are having a super small wedding there really isn't a need for a receiving line. You can easily greet all of your guests during your reception.
Receiving lines are considered a traditional part of a wedding, however with so many couples now opting for non traditional weddings, receiving lines seem to be a thing of the past. If you decide to for-go a receiving line, you need to carve out time to say hello to each of your guests during cocktail hour or your reception. Nothing makes a wedding guest more upset than not getting to talk to the newlyweds.
I had been working with Jess and Jordan for over 18 months to plan their perfect "barn chic" wedding. This was a fun wedding to plan, and I lovingly referred to Jess and Jordan as "My Havertown Couple". I was always happy to meet with them since they lived just a few blocks away.
On October 7th the high school sweethearts said their vows at St. Denis Church in Havertown. They had a traditional Catholic ceremony and had 14 members in their bridal party. Once they said their 'I Do's' we made the hour and 15 minute trek into Lancaster where the couple would party the night away with 160 friends and family members.
The reception took place at the Barn at Silverstone in Lancaster. I absolutely love this venue. It's a renovated, upscale barn. It has a rustic feeling but with 21st century amenities. Jess and Jordan wanted something different from the standard ballroom wedding and the Barn at Silverstone was an obvious choice for them.
When it came to picking a theme, this couple wanted a very classic wedding. Jess said she wanted her pictures to still look modern twenty years from now. She opted for a black, white, and gold color scheme.
When it came to proposing, Jordan planned a huge "proposal party" after he got down on one knee at Jess's parents house. Once he popped the question, about sixty friends and family members came over to celebrate!
One of my favorite moments of this wedding came later in the evening. The couple surprised the bride's parents by having all of their guests sing "American Pie", which was played at Jess's parents wedding.
The couple also had a late night popcorn bar, provided by Rettew's Catering. It seemed to go over well with all of their guests!
Jess + Jordan's Team of Wedding Professionals:
Ceremony Location: St Denis Church in Havertown
Reception Location: The Barn at Silverstone
Wedding Planner: Table 1 Events
Catering: Rettew’s Catering
Photography & Videography: The Artist Group
Florist: Theresa’s Floral Design
DJ: Schaffer Sounds - Dave Schaffer
Stationary and Invitations: Minute Man Press
Cake made by: The Master’s Baker
Transportation: King Limo
Wedding Dress Designer: Allure Bridals- Allure Couture Collection
Bridal Shoppe: Lizelle's
Bridesmaid Dress Designer: Clarise
Bridesmaid dresses from: Accents Boutique
Groom's Attire Designer: Michael Kors
Groom's Formalwear from: Sagets
Bride's shoe designer: Betsey Johnson
Jewler: Bucci Jewelers
Hair: Salon Bellissima
Makeup: Jessica Brindisi - Jessica B. Beauty
Lighting and Drapery: Shumaker PDT
Alcohol: Frank’s Wine
If you follow me on social media, you know that I have been recapping all of Table 1 Events' weddings this past year. Up next is one of my favorite couples--Meghan and Jimmy! I have known the groom since I was little. We went to elementary school togther. We kind of lost touch, but I was thrilled when he contacted me asking if I was available to be his Wedding Planner for his September wedding! I always consider it such an honor when someone you know asks you to be a part of one of the biggest days of their life.
Through the planning process I got to know Meghan, and she compliments Jim so nicely. This couple was so sweet and fun to work with. Their wedding was a ton of fun-- here are the highlights! (P.S.-- These pictures are by FAR my favorite. So forgive me in advance for posting so many. I couldn't choose which ones I liked the best! Kudos to Olivia Rae Photography!)
Meghan and Jimmy were married on September 10 at the Philander Chase Knox Estate in Malvern. This was the hottest wedding day of the year-- however no one seemed to mind! Everyone was just happy to be there and celebrating the love of this couple.
One of my favorite things about this wedding was all of the personalized details. From the personalized jenga and baggo games, to the choreographed first dance, this couple thought of it all! As a wedding planner, I love when a couple puts in the effort to make their wedding unique and represents them as a couple.
Meghan and Jimmy did a First Look, as shown below. It was a beautiful, emotional moment for the soon to be newlyweds!
The entire bridal party looked gorgeous. The bridesmaids wore blush colored dresses which complimented the pastel floral arrangements.
During their ceremony, Meghan + Jim released butterflies. This was beautiful way to exit their ceremony as Mr. + Mrs.!
Over 200 guests enjoyed cocktail hour on the patio and in the estate, then moved back outside under a tent for the reception.
The crowd danced the night away to the sounds of Dels Groove!
Meghan + Jimmy's team of Wedding Professionals:
Ceremony + Reception Venue: The Philander Chase Knox Estate
Catering: Robert Ryan Catering
Wedding Planner: Table 1 Events
Photographer: Olivia Rae Photography
Band: Dels Groove
Photobooth: DAZ Entertainment
Officiant: Cindi Babiak
Florist: Sommerfield Designs + Jami Coppock
Cake: Master Baker
Videographer: Noah Petrie
Transportation: Krapf Coaches
Invitations & Stationary: Paper and Posh
Hair: Alaina DiRocco + Alyssa Gallen from Avante Salon
Makeup: Nadia Grier + Breanna Berk
Chalkboard signs: Stacie Lee Designs
Kayla and Keith were married on July 30th at The Mansion on Main Street in Voorhees, NJ. I had been to the Mansion a few times, but never to work a wedding. So I was very excited when I booked this wedding. The Mansion is known for it's opulence and upscale ballrooms.
Kayla and Keith live in North Jersey but have a lot of family in the Philadelphia area, so they wanted a venue that was halfway between the two locations. The Mansion offered everything they were looking for. I loved this couple's choice of colors- blush and gold, which was speckled throughout their wedding.
Kayla's dress was breathtaking. I love when a bride wears a dress that makes you say "Wow!" This dress had over 20 hooks to bustle!
Their ceremony was held onsite and about 70 guests attended. Their ceremony was filled with love and a lot of laughter!
I love all of the little details of this wedding. You can tell when a bride and groom take extra steps to ensure their wedding is unique and represents them!
Kayla wore her mother's brooch on her dress in honor of her late mother. Just another beautiful element of this wedding.
Kayla and Keith had a Signature Drink called "As Good As Gold", which perfectly complimented the theme of the evening. The drink contained vodka, lemon juice, honey simple syrup, with a splash of champagne. Yum!
Carl Alan Florist did an amazing job with all of the florals for this wedding.
I am a huge cake snob and always look at the cake at weddings. This cake was hands down one of my favorites!
This was one of my favorite group pictures of all the weddings I have done. We got every single guest to go to the stairway for this shot. Kudos to Ambar Moreno Photography!
According to recent research, couples will spend close to 900 hours planning a wedding. However, when I start to work with a couple, I often find that their ceremony is lacking any type of thought or detail. I hear a lot of "we're just having a quick 20 minute ceremony" or "we're not religious". Religious or not, you need to fill that "quick 20 minute ceremony" with some substance.
Even Mindy Weiss, celebrity event planner, was recently quoted in an interview saying that the number one mistake couples make is not putting enough thought into their ceremony.
Couples think that an officiant will magically come up with meaningful material to make their ceremony beautiful. Often times, the officiant does not know the couple very well and struggles to come up with the right words to fit the couples personality. Couples wait until the last minute to pick readings, and to ask family or friends to be a part of their ceremony. Ceremony programs are usually an after-thought.
As a wedding planner, I encourage all couples to put just as much thought into your ceremony as you put into your reception. I see couples spend hours researching the best Photobooth company, yet they have no clue who will be escorting their mother down the aisle.
Set aside several hours during your wedding planning process to plan out your ceremony. Meet with your priest or officiant months before your wedding to learn what their process is and what they require from you.
Start to visualize how you want your ceremony to flow. Who can you ask to be a reader? What type of readings do you want spoken at your ceremony? And vows? Writing your own vows takes a lot of time and practice.
Spend some time thinking about the music for your ceremony. How do you want to exit your ceremony? Recently, I worked with a couple who had each wedding guest release butterflies as they were announced Mr. and Mrs. It was absolutely beautiful, and it was a reflection of who they were as a couple.
Your ceremony is a reflection of you and your soon-to-be-spouse. Even if you are not religious, a ceremony is a joining together of two people, and two families. So put some effort into your ceremony, and if you get stuck reach out to a planner for some expert help.
Ever been to a wedding that...well....just sucked? What was the reason? Maybe the food was terrible, or the DJ played music you weren't into. But a lot of times, guests don't enjoy themselves at weddings because of minor issues that could have been avoided. In this blog we cover some items that brides and grooms can do to ensure their guests have a great time.
How and where you seat your guests is huge. There are some very simple steps to take when planning your seating chart. Elderly people should not sit near the music. If possible, sit them near the bathroom. You can put your college friends near the bar, just make sure not to put any friends in recovery near the bar. Make sure your tables and chairs on not on top of each other. Everyone needs some personal space.
You should have actual seat assignments at your wedding, even if you are having a very casual wedding. Having seat assignments help guests sit down quicker. Also you don't want guests feeling awkward by not having anyone to sit with.
If you are having an outside ceremony or reception, you will need to take extra steps to ensure your guest are comfortable. If you are getting married in the middle of August and it's 95 degrees out, get air conditioning units in the tents. Or bring in some type of portable units. If it's December, bring in portable heating. If your guests are too hot or too cold, chances are that is the only thing they will remember about your wedding day.
Again, outside venues require a lot more work. You should have bug spray, sunscreen, fans, umbrellas, blankets, or flip flops available. These can be displayed in a basket or cute bin near the bathrooms. If you are getting married in a 'woodsy' area, consider getting the area professionally sprayed for bugs prior to the wedding.
Bathrooms. Yes, this is something you need to think about. Make sure you have enough bathrooms for your guests. You should have two bathrooms per 100 guests. Also, you will need to think about how the bathrooms will remain stocked and clean throughout the night. This is particularly important if you have to rent bathrooms for your event.
Food. If you forget everything else in this blog post, remember this. You need enough food to feed all of your guests! You should never run out of food at a wedding. Same goes with drinks. Although I have been to several weddings were they run out of beer, or wine, or the specialty drink. Just make sure you don't run out of alcohol all together. Also, when selecting food for your cocktail hour and reception, have a wide variety of options. You shouldn't only offer sushi and seafood at your cocktail hour, and only have crab cakes at your reception. Chances are some of your guests won't like seafood. You should mix up the food that is offered to your guests.
Communication. Communication is very important to your wedding guests. Make sure your invitations clearly spell out the important details of your wedding. Times, food options, transportation, and lodging information should be on your invitation and on your wedding website. You should also communicate if your venue will take place outside. Guests will need to know how to dress and what type of shoes to wear (some ladies prefer not to wear heels to an outdoor ceremony). If you are incorporating religious traditions into your ceremony, you should communicate this to your guests in your ceremony programs. Example: If you are Jewish and will be breaking the glass, explain what this tradition means in your ceremony program. It will help your guests enjoy the ceremony rather than be confused.
Last but not least- the married couple needs to say hello to everyone. Sometime during your reception you should get up and walk around to each table and thank your guests for coming. If you follow these simple rules I have no doubt your guests will leave happy!
Signature Drinks- check.
First Look- check.
Naked Cake- check.
Unplugged Ceremony- huh??
There have been a lot of new wedding trends that have grown in popularity over the last few years. Chances are you have been to a wedding where there was a 'signature drink', or a
'His and Hers' style drinks. Couples are now seeing each other prior to the ceremony- which is called a 'first look'. And traditional fondant wedding cakes are now being replaced by 'naked cakes', which are called that because there is no icing on the cake.
Recently, we have seen couples opt for an 'Unplugged Ceremony'. If you have no clue what this means, don't worry. We've got you covered.
An Unplugged Ceremony means just that-- unplugged. Guests are asked (politely) to not take any pictures with their cell phones or cameras during the ceremony. The professional photographer(s) will be the only ones taking pictures during the ceremony.
The thought behind this trend is that guests will be more mentally present. Instead of wondering if their flash is on, or how to zoom in, they will be focused on the commitment that two individuals are making to each other. This is a trend that really benefits all parties involved. Photographers love this because they no longer have to dance around guests to get a picture, and they don't have to deal with several flashes going off at once. The couple gets to actually look out at the crowd and see the faces of the people they love, instead of cell phones. And guests will enjoy truly being engaged in what is taking place. Two people professing their love for each other.
Ready to have an Unplugged Ceremony? Great! Now you just need to let your guests know. A simple way to do this is to put something on your wedding website. A simple "We will be having an Unplugged Ceremony. Please refrain from taking pictures during the ceremony" should be fine. You can also say "We are having an Unplugged Ceremony" on your invitations. The most popular way to let guests know is to have a few signs at your ceremony. You can get cute, professionally made signs on Etsy for very little cost. Below are two signs from weddings we recently planned:
If you're still unsure about the whole unplugged concept, do some research. Come up with a list of pros and cons of both options. Talk to a wedding planner or a friend who was recently married. Have them share their experiences with you. No matter what you chose, be firm in your decision, and enjoy the day!