Wedding Ceremony Rehearsals – A What to Expect Guide

Whether your rehearsal is for a wedding ceremony, a gay wedding rehearsal, a vow renewal rehearsal or commitment ceremony rehearsal, the process is identical. As a wedding officiant serving greater Jacksonville, FL, I’ve seen all manner of wedding ceremony rehearsals at the venues I perform at and over time developed my own little system.

wedding ceremony rehearsal

Groom signs the registry book at his wedding ceremony rehearsal


Dais – where everyone in the bridal party stands while we do the ceremony (in churches they refer to this area as the altar)
Processional – the bridal party promenade up to the dais
Recessional – the bridal party exiting the dais after the event

The Rehearsal:

It’s easier to understand how to perform the processional and recessional if you better understand the ultimate destination (the dais)  which is why I start all rehearsals with getting everyone placed where they will stand at the dais.We cover a number of items at the dais first before setting up the getting there and leaving part.

While at the dais, we’ll talk about spacing, various duties of the attendants to the bride and groom, “what happens when…” discussions and I’ll take you through the parts and pieces of your ceremony. Some of the things I cover are below:

  • Passing rings: The bride or groom makes a cup with their hand and the appointed ring passer person (that’s a technical term:)  places it in the cup. If the ring falls, no one moves. The person giving the ring to the bride or groom retrieves the ring and we proceed.
  • Taking vows: The whole time I’m asking the question which results in the answer “I do,” I will be looking down at my paper. You know it’s time to answer when I look up at you. By giving you this visual cue, we avoid premature answers inevitably followed by awkward laughter.
  • Giving the bride away: Whether it’s dad, or brother Jim or your BFF, the bridal escort brings her almost BUT NOT ALL THE WAY up to me at the dais. I say opening remarks. I ask who brings this woman. The escort gives answer, kisses bride, groom walks out to meet them, shakes escorts hand, escort WALKS IN FRONT AND AROUND BRIDE to sit down (avoids tripping over the dress) then the groom escorts the bride the last few feet to me. Maid of honor straightens dress then we begin.
  • End of ceremony cues: We set a visual cue to use here which I communicate to the DJ and photographer the day of the wedding so we achieve a nice polished finish.
  • Placement and spacing: We’ll create visual marks to use so everyone knows exactly where they will be standing. We also cover spacing, ie., everyone should stand equidistant to the person in front of them (about half a body space) EXCEPT maid of honor who needs to leave extra space to accommodate bride’s dress and pivoting activities. It is very important to work with the folks on the groom’s side as women are born with an innate sense of perfect placement while the men tend to look like they are waiting in line to buy beer.

Once we finish the body of the ceremony, we’ll set up the recessional and then actually exit the dais according to the plan we just set up.

After this, we talk about the processional and determine in what order the bridal party is going to promenade to the dais. After the discussion, I let you work on getting everyone lined up per the plan we set while I prep any flower girls and ring bearers using age appropriate language and instructions. Once I’m done instructing them, I place them in the processional line you have set up.

Now the fun starts. We will execute the rehearsal just as if it’s the wedding. This will allow us to get the spacing and pacing correct. Iron out any glitches, and generally just get everyone comfortable with the process. If the execution goes smoothly then we’re done. If it’s not polished enough, we make the adjustments needed and then run through the whole shebang a second time.

It normally only takes once although larger bridal parties or ceremonies with lots of moving parts may take 2-3 run throughs before the bride is comfortable with the performance.

Things to think about for the rehearsal:

  • If you are keen on using a specific song(s) in your promenade BRING THE SONG(S) WITH YOU so we can practice to it otherwise we won’t know if it’s too short for the entire procession to get from point A to point B.
  • Rehearsals for wedding ceremonies, please remember to bring your photo IDs and the marriage license (gay marriages eliminate this step.) Depending on time, I will do the little paperwork I have before or after the rehearsal and get it out of the way.

These are only some of the high points covered in wedding ceremony rehearsals I run but should give you an idea of my approach. The important thing to remember is this, if you have a perfect wedding, that’s great. You’ll remember you had a perfect wedding. If something goes wrong, don’t lament. Twenty-five years later you’ll say, “and remember, the flower girl got halfway down the aisle and threw her basket down and ran away….”  Better stories result from not perfect weddings. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Just let it happen. No matter what…’s gonna be perfect. I promise!!!

That Wedding Lady – – 904-583-6688 – Jacksonville, FL/St. Augustine, FL/Amelia Island, FL

Beach Wedding – Wedding Photo Picture Idea

Beach weddings offer a plethora of photography ideas but one of the best is getting each of you with your special date written in the sand. The only problem with this is it isn’t easy to do. Sticks gouge the sand piling the extra up on each side of the character you are writing. Grrr…

beach wedding photography ideas

Cute way to get your wedding date and messages written in the sand for your beach wedding ceremony.

Here is the easiest way to get your wedding date, special message, bride and groom label “written” in the sand so you can get that perfect photo. Buy some children’s plastic numbers and simply (and neatly) press them into the sand. I found these at Amazon but I’m pretty certain you can find them in the dollar store too.



Beach Wedding Tips from a Pro

This is an article for best practices when planning a beach wedding containing expert tips from a wedding officiant professional in Jacksonville, FL who has done countless beach ceremonies.

Imagining the perfect wedding set along the romantic shores of a beach?
What we see in our minds can be very different than the reality of the day.

beach wedding ceremony floridaWeather – You absolutely, positively must have a rain backup. It might not be a rainy day but bad wind can be just as miserable. Do you really want to take your vows with a mouthful of hair and Auntie Matilda’s best Sunday bonnet carried off on the wind? It is essential to have a backup plan that you can execute quickly and cleanly if you decide to change the location at the last moment. The day of the ceremony don’t just check the weather for rain; make sure the wind is within your acceptable range. If it’s a 15 MPH wind with gusts up to 19 MPH, that is incredibly windy down at the beach. Everything (and I mean everything) will fly away.

  1. Sound – this is a big issue for beach weddings. Between the wind (even on regular, not especially windy days) and the constant thrumming of the waves breaking on the shore usually means spoken words are darn near impossible to hear. Tiny weddings of 10 folks or less are fine. Everyone can gather around. Anything more than that, get a sound guy to come “mike” the ceremony. Usually DJs can provide this as a part of their service to you but there are also providers who will come take care of this as a standalone service.
  2. Flower girls – it is a big no-no here in Florida to throw things down on the beach including paper or fabric flowers (too non-biodegradable), real flowers or flower petals (covered in pesticides) or other items that don’t biodegrade rapidly. Here’s a novel concept…you’re at the beach….have her throw seashells. It will establish you as an eco-friendly bride and a cool trendsetter. DON’T THROW BIRDSEED, RICE OR OTHER TYPES OF FOOD….unless you are particularly fond of bird poo as you will attract every shore bird within a mile of the ceremony.
  3. Decorations – If you put them up, secure them super duper well. It’s windy. Everything wants to blow away. It’s a real bummer when shore patrol interrupts your ceremony to give you a ticket because all your purple and teal streamers are now littered along the beach. NEVER EVER PERFORM A BALLOON RELEASE! It is totally verboten now in Florida because it’s incredibly damaging to the ocean and its creatures when they burst and fall into the water.
  4. The permit issue – okay here’s the deal. I’ve done weddings of up to 60 people (with chairs, arches, decorations…the whole shebang) and I’ve never had a problem with shore patrol coming to see if we had a permit. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen but with dozens of beach weddings under my belt, it hasn’t happened yet. However, I have had clients tell me that when they mentioned getting married on the beach while at the courthouse getting the license, the courthouse people sternly tell you to get the license.  My take on the subject is this. If I were having a small(ish) wedding on the beach, personally I wouldn’t sweat it. If I thought 50 people were going to show up and I wanted all the bells and whistles (chairs, decorations, arch, etc.,) I’d paid the $50 or whatever to get the permit. After all the hard work, why risk having your ceremony interrupted by Baywatch on his ATV stopping by in the middle of your ceremony to write you a ticket?

Hopefully this information proves helpful for you in planning your beach wedding. If you have any great tips on this subject to share, please email them to me so I can update this entry.

-That Wedding Lady, April 25, 2013

Beach Wedding Cakes

Beach and Sea Shell Wedding Cakes, Ideas and Pictures

Need some great ideas for sea shell wedding cakes? How does one even decorate a cake for a beach theme wedding. The very first thing that pops into your mind is sea shells. Beach theme weddings often mix sea shells, tropical flowers, ocean elements and images. Colors are in a fairly unlimited palette because of this giving you lots of choices to draw from. With so much inspiration, you can choose from styles from casual to elegant, from unique to sophisticated. Look at this photos of wedding cakes with sea shells to give you some ideas for your own wedding cake design.


Today is a great day to get married!

And The Groom Wore

Photo and pictures of the groom, his best man and father of the groom in their finest tuxedo shirts at the wedding rehearsal the day before the wedding ceremony which we did at the Jacksonville Zoo in Jacksonville, FL.

Groom Tuxedo Tee Shirt

Groom Rehearsal Day Apparel

Best Man Tuxedo Shirt Clothes

The Best Man shows off his Tuxedo Shirt at the wedding rehearsal at the Jacksonville Zoo in FL.

Wedding clothes for grooms in a tuxedo shirt fashion.

Looking good in his tuxedo shirt, the groom models his wedding rehearsal tuxedo shirt the day before the wedding ceremony at the Jacksonville Zoo in Jacksonville, Florida.

4 How To Tips to Consider When Making Your Own Wedding Cake

Considering making your own wedding cake for your wedding. This article gives you 4 items you should know before attempting such a feat.

The wedding cake is one of the major centerpieces of a wedding. Your choice of wedding cake can make or break the overall look and feel of your wedding reception. Unfortunately, the wedding cake can also be one of the most expensive aspects of the wedding.

If you want to dodge the high cost of a wedding cake, you might consider learning how to make the cake yourself. These four tips will help you as you learn how to make wedding cakes, and these tips will help to give you the best wedding cake possible for your wedding.

You Need a Strong Foundation

If you are building a cake, you need to make sure that your foundation, and the supports for that foundation, is strong. Be sure to look at the weight limitations for your foundations and supports. Make a general guess as to the weight of your cake. If you feel as though you need more supports, do not hesitate to use them. This is one aspect of the cake that you do not want to skimp on, as it may cause the cake to fall apart on your wedding day.

Test Out the Cake

You are going to want to make sure that your cake actually tastes good. You will want to make multiple test batches with different flavors. Use these batches as your own personal cake testing so you can find the best flavor for your wedding cake.After all, you wouldn’t want to get stuck with a beautiful wedding cake that does not taste good.

Learn From Professionals

If you are trying to make a wedding cake for a wedding, you will want to make sure that you have the knowledge to make the perfect cake. Take the time to learn from professionals before you try to make the cake. Try to take classes from local professionals. You should also use the Internet to find tips from professionals and professional companies. Their knowledge will help you to create the perfect cake. YouTube is a truly invaluable tool when trying to get visual ideas for your presentation.

Choose your Design

You need to choose your design before you even begin to purchase materials for your cake, or make your cake. Your design will seriously dictate your needs. If you attempt to start without a full plan, you may end up spending more than you budgeted. Look at images of wedding cakes online to get the ideas that you need to make the perfect wedding cake for a wedding. Again, I cannot stress enough how useful I’ve found YouTube for this kind of research. Here is the link to my YouTube site which may give you a good starting point. Check the sidebar when you get there because YouTube will try to match your interests by suggesting comparable videos you may be interested in.

Wedding Officiant Jacksonville FL YouTube Button

These tips are not meant to teach you how to make wedding cakes. These tips will simply help you as you learn how to make your wedding cake. You need to know how to make the wedding cake, but you also need to know the tips that will help you to have the best wedding cake possible and avoid any mistakes on your special day.