Rehearsal Guide

ceremony

This guide covers how I standardly run ceremonies and provides some tips you may find useful.

After reading the information could you please complete the form at the bottom of the page and submit to me.  This will give me the final details I require to plan for your ceremony.

Once received, I will send you back a final draft of your ceremony complete with your edits, introductory signals, messages and instructional steps.

Thank you!

Carly x

CEREMONY TIPS

Which side do I stand on?

Traditionally, when facing the alter, the groom stands on the right side, and the bride on the left.

What does the groom do when he arrives?

It is a good idea for the groom and groomsmen to arrive to the ceremony before the guests (approximately 30 minutes).  This gives us time to determine exactly where and how they stand.

Typically the groom and his groomsmen stand with their arms in front, left hand on top.

The groom stands slightly in front of his groomsmen, who are angled behind him.  The best man stands closest to the groom.

Grooms standing

Once we have worked this out, the groom and groomsmen are then free to leave the alter, greet the guests as they arrive and talk casually with friends and family (this is a good strategy for nerves).

We want to avoid standing back out the front until we receive our signal that the bride is only 5 minutes away.  (I find as soon as the groom and celebrant are out the front – all guests think we are about to start and immediately take their seats and stare in our direction.  This can make the groom nervous – particularly if we are left standing like that for some time.).

How do we prepare for the Bride’s arrival?

Being “fashionably late” isn’t really a thing anymore…  Instead, couples have usually requested guests arrive earlier than the intended start time and the day is run on a tight schedule.  A late ceremony start eats into precious photography time!

However, on the day unavoidable issues may delay the bride’s arrival and we want to avoid the groom and guests being seated too early.

To ensure a seamless arrival I request 2 signals from the bride to let me know when she is ready.

SIGNAL 1: the bride is 5 minutes away. This signal is typically a text from the bride (or one of her attendants) to someone at the ceremony who comes forward and lets me know.

This is when the groom and groomsmen take their place out the front, I invite guests to take a seat and read out any messages.

SIGNAL 2: the bride is ready to walk the aisle. This signal is typically a thumbs up from the wedding coordinator or photographer.

This is when I invite guests to “please stand as we welcome the bride”, the music player / musician cues the music and the bride and her party walk the aisle.

What housekeeping messages should be read out to guests?

Once your guests are seated, this is a timely opportunity to provide them with any housekeeping messages and an overview of how the day will run.

I recommend providing your guests the following information:

(1) Rules around photography during the ceremony.

If you have chosen to have an unplugged ceremony, I will remind guests of this and explain what it means.

Or, if you are happy for guests to take their own photos during the ceremony, I simply ask they are mindful to please keep the aisle clear of their phones and cameras so as not to block the professionals!

(2) What is happening after the ceremony in the interim to the reception.

Most couples ask their guests to join them for a group photo immediately after the ceremony and then sometimes for family to stick around for some additional family shots.

I would then recommend explaining what guests can do in the interim to the reception.  Perhaps you want them to make their way to a certain location?  Will drinks and canapes be served?  Or will there be a cash bar available should they wish to purchase a drink?  You could also outline any other options (eg lawn games, music, explore the grounds of the venue etc).

(3) Time and location for the reception

It is also a good idea to remind guests of the reception start time and its exact location within the venue (eg which room/area).

There is space below for you to tell me the signals you will be using and what messages you would like read out to your guests.

If we are playing our ceremony music through your PA system, how does that work?

If you wish to play your ceremony music through my PA system – you need to bring a device (iPhone/Android/iPod/Tablet/Laptop) to the ceremony with your songs uploaded onto it.  I will provide an auxiliary cord to connect the device to my PA system.

Remember, my PA system simply amplifies the sound coming out of your device.  So please use a device that is in good working order (eg: do not use a phone that has been dropped a few times!).  Be sure to check the sound quality of your device prior to the day.

As per the point above, my PA system will amplify ANY sound coming from your device whilst it is connected (including if it rings, or if text messages/reminders beep through mid ceremony).

To be safe, if you are using a phone: ensure it is switched to “in-flight mode”, and it’s a good idea to remove the passcode (incase the music player forgets it).

Remember when in “in-flight mode” the device is disconnected from the internet, so it is a good idea to purchase and upload songs to the device, rather than using an online application such as Spotify.  (This is also a good idea incase the internet connection is unreliable at the venue.)

I suggest creating a separate playlist called “ceremony” and title the songs “aisle”, “signing”, “leaving”, rather than by title and artist (this avoids confusion for your music player).

You also need to nominate someone to play the music for you.  Please have this person arrive early to the ceremony.  I will connect the device and perform a sound check.  The music player can then sit in the crowd and operate the device, (they do not need to touch the PA system!).

A tip for the music player is to fade songs (turn down volume slowly), rather than abruptly stopping them.  But they must remember to turn the volume back up ready for the next song!  I will run through this with your music player before the ceremony.

music player

In what order does the Bride’s party walk the aisle?

Flower girls / Page boys usually walk first (although depending on their age, they may need to be escorted by the bridesmaids), followed by the bridesmaid who will stand furtherest away from the bride.  The Maid of Honour walks just before the bride and her escort.

A couple of tips when walking the aisle:

– Just before you walk, take a deep breath, stand up straight, shoulders back.

– Rest your forearms on your hip bones so you are holding your flowers nice and low.  The most beautiful part of your dress is often the bodice – so you want to make sure it is not blocked by your flowers.

– Walk as you usually do, just at a slower pace (we don’t do step-together anymore!).

– Above all else, please remember to SMILE!

bridesmaidWhere possible, it is a good idea to visit your venue and practice walking the aisle.  I’d suggest taking your wedding shoes so you can practice navigating over any rough terrain in them.

At the practice, determine the best path for your walk and identify the point your first bridesmaid will reach to signal the start of the next bridesmaid’s walk (this may be walking past a certain tree/bush, or reaching the back row of wedding guests).  If your venue has a wedding coordinator, ask for their advice.

Also ensure your song is long enough to accomodate the entire party walking the aisle.  The bride always walks last – you don’t want the song to finish before she has reached the alter!

On the flip side, if the aisle is very short and/or you do not have any bridesmaids, you don’t want the walk to be over too quickly!  Give time for the song to build before you start walking.

On the day, Carly will guide the bridesmaids in, so they mirror the groomsmen.

If your bridal party includes flower girls and page boys – it is up to you where they stand/sit.  Most couples choose for them to sit with their parents (or grandparents if they are your children) as they feel this is most comfortable for them.

What side does the Bride’s escort walk on and what do they do when they arrive at the alter?

I am asked this question frequently, and my initial response is always, “It does not matter, do whatever feels comfortable!”.  Your guests won’t even notice!

But, if you have a strong preference for tradition:  For church weddings, the father usually walks on his daughter’s left side.  This is because the bride’s family is seated on the left – so dad can easily scoot to his seat.  In traditional weddings the bride’s dress usually has a long train – so if the father escorted his daughter on the right – he would have to jump over her train to get to his seat.

And if you go back even further, it was thought the daughter should hold her father’s sword arm (typically his right) to stop him from attacking the new groom, haha.

If both parents are walking you down the aisle, I would suggest the bride walk in the middle.  (And you may want to ask your venue/stylist to make the aisle slightly wider to ensure you all fit!)

When the bride and her escort/s arrive at the alter I will instruct the escort to:

– Lift the bride’s veil (if wearing one)

– Give the bride a kiss

– Shake the groom’s hand (or give him a hug or kiss)

– Then return to his/her seat.

The bride moves into her position and her maid of honour can adjust the train of her dress if required.  The bride should keep hold of her bouquet (this gives her hands something to do).

Tip: if the bride does not have any bridesmaids, tee up a friend or family member who can assist with adjusting your dress if required and holding your bouquet later in the ceremony.

The bride and groom typically stand in front and to either side of the celebrant – on a slight angle – so they are facing each other, but also open to their guests.  They should stand close enough so that they can reach out and touch each other during the ceremony if/as required.

standing

We are including a reading in our ceremony.  Where does the reader stand?

If including readings in your ceremony, I suggest:

The groom moves next to his bride for the reading.

The reader can step into the groom’s place.

Carly will hand the reader the microphone and a copy of the reading and step out of the shot.

When positioned this way everyone is open to the reader and the audience.

reading

When do we join hands?

When it is time for the legals, I will ask you to move in close and hold hands.  This is when the bride passes her bouquet off to her maid of honour.

move together

What do we do for our vows?

You may choose to read your vows off a vow card or repeat after me.  If the later, I will try to stay out of the shot as best I can, it is important you say your vows and ring exchange wording to your partner – rather than looking at me!  Sorry, I’m already married 😉

If you are reading your vows off of a card, please ensure you hold the microphone as close as possible to your mouth.

repeat after me

How do we exchange rings?

When it is time to exchange rings, I will invite the person holding the rings to come forward.  I suggest they move to out the front of the bride and groom, facing the celebrant and open the ring box.

Carly will instruct the bride to take the groom’s ring (because remember you are exchanging them), and vice versa.

A tip for the bride is to arrive at the ceremony with her engagement ring on her right hand.  The wedding band is traditionally worn at the base of the finger.  By wearing your engagement ring on your other hand you leave a bare finger for the wedding band to be placed on.  Once rings are exchanged, the bride can move her engagement ring back to her ring finger (then you have your rings arranged correctly for the signing photos).

bride ring

Any tips for the kiss?

When I pronounce you as husband and wife, your guests will cheer.  Please turn to them, potentially throwing your hands in the air in celebration.  This will give me a few seconds to move out of your first kiss photo and give time for the photographer to get into position.

Once I am safely out of the shot, I will say “Please kiss your beautiful bride!”.  Then you kiss..  Without a creeper celebrant ruining the shot haha!

first kiss

How do we sign the marriage register?

When we move off to sign, the bride and groom usually sit and the witnesses stand to either side.  I will point to show everyone where to sign.

I will also bring a limited edition Mont Blanc pen for you to sign with.

Brides, please remember to sign in your maiden name.  You are not legally married (and therefore unable to use your married surname) until after all of the paperwork is signed.

As a tip (rather than paying for a floral arrangement for the signing table) place your bouquet on the table with the flowers facing out – gorgeous!

signing

What happens after we sign the register?

After the signing I will ask the bridal party to get back into position and for you to stand together out the front.  I will stand off to the side and conclude the ceremony.

look out into crowd

At the very end, I ask your guests to stand and join me in congratulating you – your leaving song will then play.  Please link arms and walk back up the aisle together.

To ensure you get that perfect “leaving photo” walk directly back up the aisle (rather than stopping to be congratulated by guests along the way).

If your guests have throwing petals/confetti/bubbles, this is when I will ask them to shower you with them.  (It makes for a fantastic photo!).

I will then instruct your bridal party to pair off, link arms and follow you back up the aisle.  Please remind bridal party members to wait for my signal before they start walking.  For photos, I think it is nice if the background is clear for the bride and groom’s walk.

Also, if you get a chance – a gentle reminder to groomsman to escort their bridesmaid (take her arm!) never goes a stray.  The number of times I’ve seen the groomsman walk off in a group, leaving the ladies following awkwardly behind haha!

Once the bridal party has exited, finally I will invite your guests to leave.

If you move immediately to the location of your group photo, your guests will follow you and be ready for the photographer’s instructions.

leaving

We are having confetti/petal cones for the end of the ceremony.  What do we do with those?

My recommendation is to organise for someone to hand out the confetti/petal cones during the signing.  This is for a couple of reasons:

If handed out at the beginning of the ceremony:

Guests have to hold onto it for the entire ceremony.  This makes it difficult to clap, wipe tears etc.  Some guests are very scared to prematurely tip their petal cones!

Also if it is windy, you risk the confetti prematurely being blown away.

And finally, if not enough for everyone, as a priority you want to ensure those seated or standing closest to the aisle have the confetti.  You do not know who those guests will be until they are already in their seats.

When we return back out the front, after signing the certificates, I will provide some instruction on how to use the confetti most effectively for the photos.

Anything else?

My greatest piece of advice is remember to SMILE!!  Enjoy the moment!smile

I hope you have found this information helpful!  Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Once you have read the above – could you please complete the form below.  This will provide me with the final information I require to plan for your ceremony.  Thank you – and I cannot wait for your big day!

PARTICULARS:

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Ceremony Date

Ceremony Start Time

Approximately how many guests are attending?

ON THE DAY CONTACTS:

Bride Mobile Number

Groom Mobile Number

Other - Please list the name, relationship (groomsmen, MC, mother of the groom) and mobile number for one other contact person who will arrive early to the ceremony.

VENUE:

Ceremony Location (if in a park or large venue - please include the exact location for the ceremony/which space or room you have you booked)

Is there anything I should know about accessing the venue / any tricky access roads?

Is there parking available? Is there somewhere specific you would like me to park?

Does your venue have a coordinator? If so could you please tell me their name and email address.

Does your venue have a PA system and microphone I can use, or do I need to bring my own?

SIGNALS:

Signal 1 - Please indicate what signal you will use to let Carly know the bride is 5mins away? (This is when she invites guests to take their seats and can read out any housekeeping messages). Typically this is a text from the bride (or one of her bridesmaids) to someone reliable at the ceremony. Please let me know the name of that person and I will ensure I introduce myself when they arrive.
(The MC is usually a good choice)

Signal 2 - Please indicate what signal you will use to let Carly know the bride is ready to walk the aisle? (This is when Carly will ask the guests to stand and music player/musician will cue music).
Typically this is a wave/thumbs up from your wedding coordinator or photographer.

MESSAGES: Please confirm the messages you would like read out to your guests prior to the Bride's arrival.

Are you having an unplugged wedding ceremony? Or are you happy for guests to take their own photos during the ceremony?.

Immediately after the ceremony, are you having a group photo? Family photos?.

What would you like your guests to do in the interim to the reception? Eg do you want them to move to a certain location? Will drinks and canapes be served? Or will there be a cash bar where they can purchase a drink? Please also outline any additional options (eg lawn games, music, explore the grounds of the venue etc).

What is the start time and location/room for the reception?.

CEREMONY MUSIC:

If wishing to play your music via Carly's PA system - please enter the name of the guest who will be playing the music for you (and their relationship to you). Please also enter the type of device you will be using to play the music (e.g. phone/iPod) and who will bring the device to the ceremony.

If having live music please enter name of musician/s or band and their email address.

VENDORS: Could you please list the names and email addresses for any of the following vendors who will be at your wedding ceremony. I will email them the week of your wedding to provide an overview of how your ceremony will run.

Photographer

Videographer (required)

Planner

Stylist

Other

PAPERWORK:

CURRENT ADDRESS: Has your address changed since we had our paperwork meeting? If so, please list your current address below:

WITNESSES: If you have not already done so, please provide the full legal names (including any middle names) of your two witnesses.

Witness 1:

Witness 2:

BRIDAL PARTY: If you are having a bridal party we have likely included a special thank you to them in your ceremony. I look at each individual bridesmaid/groomsman as I say their name. It is embarrassing if I call a member by the wrong name haha! So, if there has been any changes to your bridal party members, or the order in which they will stand, could you please list the new order below. If there has been no change (as per your most recent ceremony script) - please just leave the field blank.

BRIDESMAIDS (Maid of Honour first):

GROOMSMEN (Best Man first):

JUNIORS (Names and ages of any flower girls/page boys):

ESCORT - Who will be walking the bride down the aisle? (eg Dad / Mum and Dad / Step Dad):

CARLY'S OUTFIT: Obviously I will leave my flowing white dress at home 😉 I usually wear a cocktail dress and avoid wearing the colour worn by your bridesmaids. If you have any specific requirements, please list them below.

Colour of Bridesmaids' Dresses

Other requirements

ANYTHING ELSE?

Do you have any questions for me? Or is there anything else you think I should know?

Credits

The above images are from Emma & Sean’s glorious wedding at High Church Brisbane.

Images by Just for Love Photography