The wedding is tomorrow, and everything must go perfectly. Tonight is the wedding rehearsal. Everyone is excited, anticipating the grand event. Because of the wedding buzz, reunion with friends and relatives, detail overload, and fatigue, some of the information imparted tonight will be lost amid the hubbub. To ensure that all wedding participants have a backup source to provide vital information that may not be absorbed during the rehearsal, I always provide to wedding participants an agenda of the wedding ceremony that can be used as a reference should any participant need a refresher before the event.
Below is an example of a wedding procedure handout. This template gives you a good idea of what needs to be included and can be tailored to meet your unique needs. This procedure is for a wedding beginning at 6:00 P.M.
Wedding Procedures for Smith-Jones Wedding
- 5:00 P.M–Ushers/groomsmen should be in the foyer to seat guests. Do not seat anyone until all members of the wedding party have left the sanctuary and all pictures have been made. Preferably, no one will be seated prior to one hour before the service.
- 5:00 P.M.–Groom, minister, and best man should be situated in the area from which they will come into the sanctuary when the ceremony begins.
- 5:30 P.M.–Prelude of musical selections begin while guests are seated.
- 5:45 P.M.–Selected usher will seat paternal grandparents.
- 5:47 P.M.–Selected usher will seat maternal grandparents
- 6:00 P.M.–Vocalist will sing “First song.”
- 6:05 P.M.–Mothers are seated as “Song” is played. (Selected usher will escort groom’s mother to her assigned place on the right side of the aisle, father will follow closely behind. When this usher returns to the foyer, selected usher will escort the bride’s mother to her assigned place on the left side of the aisle.) At this point, absolutely no other guests will be seated.
- 6:10 P.M.–Vocalist will sing “Song.”
- 6:15 P.M and beyond.–Musicians will begin to play “Song.” Minister, Groom, and Best Man will enter the sanctuary from their waiting area and take their places at the front of the church. When they are in place, the processional will begin–Usher #1 will enter the sanctuary and take his place at the front. When Usher #1 is halfway down the aisle, Usher #2 will enter and take his place at the front. Usher #3 will enter when #2 is halfway down the aisle; Usher #4 will follow suit. When Usher #4 is halfway down the aisle, Bridesmaid #1 will enter the sanctuary and this procedure will continue until all attendants are in place–ending with the maid of honor. (Could be flower girl if you have one in the wedding.)
- When the wedding party members are in place, the musician will end “Processional Song.”
- The “Bridal Song” will begin and the bride will enter the sanctuary escorted by her father. They will proceed down the aisle and take their places at the front.
- At this point, the minister will take over and conduct the ceremony which will include the invocation, greeting, presentation of the brids, and wedding message.
- When the wedding message is concluded, vocalist will sing “Song.”
- After the song, the minister will proceed with the exchange of vows and exchange of rings.
- After the exchange of the the rings, the minister will ask everyone to join in prayer while vocalist sings “Prayer Song.”
- After the “Prayer Song” the minister will present the couple to the audience.
- 6:55 P.M.–The Recessional (“Song”) will begin and the bride and groom will exit the ceremony, followed by the Maid of Honor and Best Man, Usher #1 and Bridesmaid #1, Usher #2 and Bridesmaid #2, and Usher #3 and Bridesmaid # 3.
- Father of the bride will escort mother of the bride from the sanctuary after Usher and Bridesmaid #3.
- Father of groom will escort mother of the groom from the sanctuary after the father and mother of the bride.
- Grandmother of the bride will be escorted from the sanctuary by the grandfather of the bride.
- Grandmother of the groom will be escorted from the sanctuary by the grandfather of the groom
- When all wedding party participants have exited, the minister will invites all guests to stay for the reception immediately following the ceremony.
Because every wedding is unique, the wedding procedure I have provided will not address all aspects of your ceremony; however, it gives you a good idea of what sort of information should be provided. The more information you can provide to those involved in making your wedding perfect, the better. In addition to the wedding party, the minister, musicians, and photographers will certainly appreciate knowing all the details. It also helps the wedding director to stay focused since there will be many distractions in the moments leading up to the grand event.