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Do we need a wedding rehearsal? A few tips to help you decide.

wedding rehearsal guide 1

I’m fairly convinced that we’ve got it into our heads that you’re supposed to rehearse your wedding day because TV and Movies about weddings all talk about the rehearsal and “The Rehearsal Dinner”. That’s definitely a thing in America, but it’s not a thing here and our weddings don’t seem to be quite so much of a huge production number as ones I’ve seen from the United States on social media.

There’s actually not much that needs to be practiced for a good old down-to-earth Aussie celebration of love.

Are there rules about needing a wedding rehearsal?

The Guidelines on the Marriage Act, which all Australian celebrants must adhere to states: Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants must:

- give the parties information and guidance to enable them to choose or compose a marriage ceremony, including information to assist the parties in deciding on whether a marriage ceremony rehearsal is appropriate or needed.


So it does kinda sorta say that we are obliged to offer them if we think it’s needed or if YOU think you need one. It doesn’t say we can’t charge extra for a rehearsal. If you are expecting me to do a rehearsal at your venue which is a 90 minute drive away I will want to bill you for a bit of extra time, but not if it’s local.

And that doesn’t mean we won’t have one last meeting in the final week or so to run through all the finer details.

So do you need a wedding rehearsal?

wedding rehearsal guide 2

Almost always no – but with a qualification. I advise a rehearsal if:

1.    You have a large wedding party (more than 3 attendants on each side) and they are making entrances to different music that have to be timed to within a few seconds; or if they’re planning dance their way in.

2.    You are incorporating a complicated unity ritual, like a handfasting but a family member is going to tie the knot, or a ritual that involves more than just the two of you and has a few different steps to it. OR

3.    If you have a fancy schmancy way you’re going to finish the ceremony that requires critical timing of effects or music.

Of course, if you feel you need a wedding rehearsal for your own peace of mind that’s a good reason as well.

Do we need to rehearse at our wedding venue?   

wedding rehearsal guide 3

Again almost always no.

It’s rare that you’ll be getting married somewhere really close to your place, the celebrant’s place and the locations of your wedding party or parents. You can rehearse in the backyard or a local park. There’s a nice little park across the road from my place that’s just fine for a quick rehearsal of the key elements.

What you do need to do (for all outside ceremonies at least) is rehearse at the same time of day as your ceremony is planned so the sun is in the same place that it will be on the day, and set out the area you’ll be rehearsing in facing in the same direction as it will be on the day. Once you see exactly what the sun is doing you might want to make a few tweaks to the setup.

A few tips for if you need a wedding rehearsal.

For the most part, every rehearsal I’ve ever been asked to do has been getting 3 or 4 young women to walk slowly,  in heels, in time to the music. If you can nail that the entrance will look fab and everything else will fall into place behind it.

You can all practice that at home and advise that you do.

At least wear shoes the same height as the ones you’re going to wear on the day. I understand you don’t want to wreck the wedding shoes but you can always wrap a tea towel or cloth shopping bag around your foot in the shoe and secure with a hair tie around your ankle. Don’t put your foot in a plastic shopping bag; you’ll slip.

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Do it as close as possible to the actual wedding day. If you take the time to plan and rehearse entrances, rituals and exits more than a week or two ahead of time I can guarantee half of your wedding party will have completely forgotten by the time the day comes around. In all honesty, probably so will you.

On your wedding day you will be excited, or nervous, or distracted or exhausted – possibly a combination of all four. Even at weddings where we’ve rehearsed everything in detail my couples and their attendants are always looking to me to tell them where to stand, what to do and when to do it.


And I have absolutely 100% got your backs on the day. It’s not my first ride in this rodeo so I’m in total control. A big part of my job is making sure everyone is comfortable while I keep things flowing in an engaging and entertaining way. If you’d like to read more about what a celebrant actually does (and it’s way more than 20 minutes on the day) here’s the post about that.

wedding rehearsal guide 5

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