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Your Wedding Rehearsal and Dinner

Wedding_Rehearsal_DinnerIf you were preparing to star in a Broadway show, wouldn't you want to rehearse first to make sure that you and those around you were poised to do everything just right on the day of your big debut? Of course you would. So why would you ever want to take on the starring role of your life without rehearsing? It's doubtful that you'll ever be more the center of attention than you are on the day of your wedding, so rehearsal is an absolute necessity if you want the Big Day to go down perfectly. A good rehearsal is ideal for getting everything down pat and calming those prenuptial jitters. You can't account for everything that might go wrong, but you can minimize any problems by being well prepared.

Your wedding rehearsal should include only the individuals participating in the ceremony: you and your groom, the Best Man, bridesmaids, flower girls, rings bearers, parents and (possibly) grandparents of the bride and groom, and the wedding officiant. (You may also want to include your wedding musicians, if any, so they'll have an understanding of the flow of the ceremony). You should always hold the rehearsal in your chosen wedding location, be it church, country club, or the great outdoors. Your most important task (and possibly the hardest) is to schedule a date and time when everyone can attend. Ideally, this should be sometime in the week before the wedding, preferably the day before. It might be a good idea to schedule your wedding on a Saturday, if you can, so that the final wedding rehearsal takes place on a Friday evening, when most people are free of previous obligations. If you can't get everyone to agree on a specific date, then you'll just have to set a rehearsal date and leave it to them to make it or not.

As the host, you should arrive for the rehearsal at least a half-hour early, in order to greet everyone attending. The formal wedding rehearsal may be the first time that all the wedding participants have come together as a group. For this reason, it's a great time to make introductions among those who don't already know each other. Since you don't get to pick your relatives and you have little control over how they react to each other, it may also be a good idea to not to pair up any people who don't get along. (If you don't have this problem, count yourself fortunate). After everyone's arrived, organize them according to your planned ceremony, and then act it out from the first strains of "Here Comes the Bride" to the final "I do" (and the kiss, too, if you want that little bonus). This is not a time to make changes to the ceremony; you should stick with the program you've already chosen. Speaking of programs, if you've printed up some wedding programs, bring them along to the rehearsal.

You don't necessarily have to dress up formally for the rehearsal (assuming you plan to dress formally for the ceremony), but at the very least you should bring a few props, like the bridal bouquet. This is especially important for any children involved, who may not be very familiar with weddings. They'll probably need to practice with their ring-bearer pillows and flower petal baskets, and may need a little extra explanation about what a wedding's all about in the first place. Make them aware of just how important their jobs are, and have them walk down the aisle a few times to get the feel of the situation.

Once you've finish the rehearsal (to heartfelt sighs all around), you're obliged to feed everyone. It would be a good idea to pick a restaurant or other location near your wedding site, to make it easier to get there quickly -- and do be sure to make reservations in advance, so they'll know when you're arriving and can make the appropriate preparations. It doesn't matter whether you're eating at Bubba's Chicken Shack or Delmonico's, this is a necessary step, and they'll appreciate it if you're on time. A sit-down dinner is a perfect time to give your Best Man, bridesmaids, and other attendants their gifts of appreciation.

If a formal dinner or semi-formal dinner isn't your thing -- or if you just want to give everyone a break from the formality -- then consider making a party out of the wedding rehearsal dinner, possibly to give them a taste of the next day's wedding reception. Few guests would be averse to enjoying a Cajun crawfish boil or a Southwestern-style barbecue in someone's backyard. This will give everyone an opportunity to have fun, get to know each other, and dance a little bit (you DO know how to dance, don't you?). If you go for the informal party, may we suggest that you not wear your wedding dress to the festivities? Barbecue sauce doesn't go well with other wedding regalia, even if they're borrowed or blue. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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