Tori asks:

I would really love to hear from you both (knowing that you prefer rehearsals Sarah, and you don’t tend to do them Josh), what is your approach to ensuring a ceremony runs as smoothly as possible and flows well when couples elect not to have a rehersal? As a new celebrant with just two ceremonies under my belt, I noticed a real difference between the first ceremony which had a rehearsal (with all the bridesmaids and groomsmen), and the second when the couple were quite adamant they preferred to go with the flow on the day. How do you go about still ensuring everyone involved feels comfortable and knows where to stand/where to move to during the ceremony when there is no rehearsal? I had a ‘talk through’ with my rehearsal-free couple and explained a few points to brief their bridesmaids/groomsmen with, but I don’t think this occurred as on the day I could some of the bridesmaids in particular were visibly confused/looked a little uncomfortable not knowing what they were doing. Any tips would be appreciated! Thanks 🙂 Tori

It’s somewhat of a well known fact that I, Josh, don’t love rehearsals. I find that rehearsals add stress where it’s not needed, and I certainly don’t need to rehearse what I’m doing. However there’s been a number of occasions where I’ve run a rehearsal because the event itself was so complex.

So how do I get away without having a rehearsal but still present stellar ceremonies?

  • I create ceremonies that don’t need to be rehearsed.
  • When there’s elements involving other people I’ll chat to the people about how I’ll introduce them and let them know it’s not like a Catholic mass where it’ll be awkward and weird, but it’s more like a family event, everyone there is for you so you can’t “stuff this up”.
  • I’ll go out and meet the bridal party, if there is one, and let them know to take all the time in the world, they don’t have to worry about timing or where to walk (just down the middle of the aisle) and I’ll tell them to hold their bouquets low and hold it with both hands.
  • As they walk in I’ll say hi and gently tell them to reposition if needed. But let’s remember that positioning so doesn’t matter. It’s a human and family event, not a military parade.
  • With the couple I’ll take responsibility for their positioning, telling them ahead of the day to just face each other and hold hands, and if they’re not centred, and being centred matters in this venue, then I’ll gently ask them to take a step this way or that. I’ll only ask 1-2 times because who needs the stress of standing in the right place when you’ve already got 100 eyes on you.
  • I’ll chat to the photographer and let them know that I’ll be out of the way for the kiss and that if the couple takes the microphone out of my hands for their vows, that I’ll step out of the way as well.
  • I emphasise to bridesmaids and groomsmen that all they have to do is cheer on the couple. They don’t need to perform or be perfect. If you’re walking in, walk in like you own the room, and then stand next to the bride and groom as their number one cheerleaders.
  • I tell people walking people in, like dads with brides, to just naturally walk them in with pride and to hand them over at the end of the aisle. I’m not going to ask “who gives this bride away” because of the date on the calendar plus it’s awkward.
  • If people are bringing a reading I’ll let them know roughly when I’ll invite them up (start/end/before vows/after vows) and that’s just based on what the contents of the reading is.
  • Generally speaking, I take 100% responsibility for the vibe and the feel of the ceremony and I simply do not, in any way possible, want to preside over a perfect and impressive ceremony. I want to lead real, human, and authentic ceremonies that accurately celebrate the people getting married. I couldn’t care less if there was a bridal party or not – I actively encourage people to not have bridal parties. I just want everyone to be there in the moment, experiencing the ceremony, their vows, my words, their guests, fresh and for the first time at 3pm on Saturday.