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16 Mar '15

Should you have a wedding rehearsal?


The rehearsal and dinner has become a big deal in the wedding world, and the rehearsal itself is often an afterthought. But I have witnessed time and time again how much smoother ceremonies run when they’ve been rehearsed.

Now, there are obviously going to be times when you may not need a rehearsal. If the ceremony involves just you, your partner, and the officiant; you have a straightforward entrance and aisle; and music that doesn’t need super specific cues, you can probably skip it. Quaker ceremonies also generally don’t need rehearsals, and my guess is there are other religious traditions out there with ceremonies simple enough to not need rehearsing.

However, the typical American wedding ceremony is at least slightly more complicated, and this is where the rehearsal comes in. You probably need to rehearse your ceremony if you have people who are:

  1. Walking down an aisle
  2. Standing or sitting somewhere specific when they get there
  3. Possibly moving mid-ceremony
  4. Other people who may be standing somewhere specific half way through
  5. Walking back up the aisle at the end

None of this is necessarily particularly complicated, but doing a run-through of it before it happens in front of a crowd will make it seem natural and help avoid some common pitfalls.

Now, what doesn’t happen at a rehearsal is a full read-through of the entire ceremony. If you want to do this, you certainly should do it with your partner, your officiant, and anyone else who’s speaking (and, regardless, you should all practice your parts out loud individually). But you shouldn’t read through every word of the ceremony at the rehearsal where you have a decent-sized audience of people who are going to hear it all again the next day (efficiency and protecting the emotional impact of actually hearing the ceremony and your vows out loud are the reasons for that). So what exactly are rehearsals for? Choreography and blocking.

When I say choreography, I don’t mean dance. What I mean is “a bunch of people have to move from one place to another smoothly,” which mainly comes into play doing the processional (entrance) and recessional (exit), or, as a client of mine called them “the cessionals.” The aisle walk is probably pretty (literally) straightforward for most people, but the things you need to cover when rehearsing it are:

  • Order of Procession: I’ve discovered many people don’t think about this before the rehearsal. So—do you want both partners to process, or one to start at the front? Should your officiant process? If neither of you are being escorted by your parents, should they process on their own? If you have a wedding party, what order do you want them to go in? There’s no wrong answer to any of these, but you have to make a decision.
  • Pace of the Walk: Please, please, don’t do “left, together, right, together.” It looks…silly. A nice, normal, walk—in time to the music—is perfect, and something everyone should be able to do without thinking about too hard.
  • Spacing Between People: If you only have four sets of people processing, you may want to space them out so that you can get more of your processional music in there. If you have eighteen people processing, you’re probably going to have to put them fairly close together if you want them all to get to the front before the song ends. Plan accordingly.
  • Order of Recession: Often this is slightly different. The couple recess together first, followed by wedding party, often in pairs, and the officiant. Parents, who are generally sitting on the aisle in the front row, often recess next, followed by the rest of the guests.

Now, let’s move on to blocking: where people are positioned (and repositioned) during the ceremony itself. Some things to think about:

  • Where Parents Sit: I always have parents sit on the first row aisle, which is standard, but—here’s my non-standard trick—on the opposite side of the aisle from their child. If they’re on the same side, they’re looking at the back of your head the whole time, if they’re on the opposite side, they’ll be able to see your face.
  • Wedding Party: You ideally want them to be close to the couple, but not too close, and evenly and symmetrically spaced. Wedding party members on the left should have the same distance between them as those on the right, and be in the same general shape: straight line, diagonal line, curved line, whatever makes sense in your ceremony space.
  • Couple: At rehearsals, I do a lot of yelling, “Pretend that you like each other!” from the back, because people have a natural inclination to stand with enough space between them that their officiant has plenty of space. Nope. I suggest holding hands if it feels natural to you, or just standing close enough to each other that you can easily look into each other’s eyes. Related: remember to look at each other, especially during vows, and not your officiant!
  • Readers/Readings: Blocking for these people is going to be dependent on your microphone situation (how many you have, if any). If you have two mics (one for the officiant and one for the readers) then the readers should be in front and to the side (I usually put them stage left) of the couple. If there’s only one mic, I usually suggest both members of the couple move to one side (for ease, toward the person who has a dress with a train on it, if applicable) and swivel slightly to face the reader. It is definitely appropriate for the couple to look at the reader while the reading is happening!
  • Officiant: Should be standing behind the couple, centered, but should make sure to take a big step to the side for the first kiss, so as to avoid any awkward first-kiss photobombing.

This all, of course, comes with the caveat that everything should make sense when done at your particular ceremony site! Which brings us to my last important piece—as long as your ceremony site and setup are relatively straightforward, you can definitely rehearse off-site. I’ve done rehearsals in hotel rooms, backyards, hotel conference rooms, and, once, a parking lot. Anywhere you have enough space to create a faux-aisle and line up everyone who’s going to be at the front at the same time, you’re good. If you have a particularly unusual ceremony site, aisle arrangement, or entrance, it may make more sense to make the effort to rehearse at the actual site, but even then don’t panic if your venue isn’t available at a time that works for your wedding party. Most grownups can figure out how to adjust things to another site, especially if it’s only one day later.

And, a final note: I generally schedule an hour for rehearsals. Fifteen minutes to gather and explain things to people, thirty minutes for the first run through, and about ten minutes for the second run through, because at that point everyone gets it and you’re just proving it to them by having them practice.

Courtesy of Elizabeth Clayton at www.apracticalwedding.com

11 Mar '15

The Pros and Cons of a Church Wedding

For some couples, getting married in a church is a no-brainer. If faith is an extremely important part of your heritage or your current life, you may not have considered getting married anywhere else. But for others, those of casual faith, little faith, or no faith at all, the issue of wedding venue can be a thorny one. If the bride’s mother has her heart set on a cathedral and the groom’s father wants a quick-and-easy courthouse wedding, what’s a modern couple to do? The simple answer is, “whatever the couple thinks is best.” But it’s worth considering the pros and cons of a church wedding before you make that decision. For this article, we’re setting aside the issue of faith to look just at the practical considerations of a church as a wedding location.

Pro: It’s a package deal

A church already has a lot of what you’re looking for in a wedding venue: a piano and organ, a P.A. system, parking, rooms for the wedding party to prepare. Most churches have musicians and officiants they regularly work with, so you’ll spend less time chasing down those details. You can keep decorations to a minimum, because the architecture of the church is your main decoration.

Con: Less control

When my sister had her church wedding, the church provided an organist to play the building’s huge pipe organ. The only problem: the organist refused to play Mendelssohn’s wedding march because it was a “secular piece of music.” If what’s been pre-arranged doesn’t match what you want, prepare for some battles of will. That rigidity extends to decoration as well–the church is unlikely to let you go wild with decorations. Don’t count on tacking streamers to the ceiling or bringing in that driftwood wedding arch.

Pro: Plenty of seating for the ceremony

There’s no need to rent a hundred folding chairs for the ceremony and spend an hour beforehand setting them up. Even if it’s a more modern church without big wooden pews, they’re used to providing seating for hundreds of people. You won’t have to worry about aisle width or accessibility, either.

Con: You’ll probably want a separate reception location

Let’s face it: while church sanctuaries are beautiful, church fellowship halls tend to be less so. They tend to be small spaces with concrete floors, suspended acoustic tile ceilings, and banks of ugly fluorescent lighting. Unless your church is truly exceptional, you might end up with a reception that has all the warmth and charm of an AA meeting. Decorations can only do so much to pretty up a space. There’s also the real possibility of limitations on what kind of refreshments you can serve–many church halls won’t allow alcohol.

Pro: Lower venue cost

Unless it’s that downtown cathedral that books out years in advance, churches generally charge a lower venue fee than their secular counterparts. A mid-size church may ask for a “donation” of $300-400 for the use of the space, versus thousands for a dedicated venue.

Con: Lower level of service

A dedicated venue can often provide a wedding planner, help with catering, and offer connections to preferred vendors. The extra help comes at a premium, but it can be just what the stressed wedding couple needs.

Getting married in a church definitely has some advantages for a couple whose faith plays a role in their lives. Make sure to keep those lines of communication open with your significant other while you’re planning to see if the pros outweigh the cons for your perfect wedding.


Originally posted at setyourweddingapart.com/the-pros-and-cons-of-a-church-wedding

25 Feb '15

Groomsmen Gifts for Your Wedding: Who You Should Buy a Pocket Watch For?


Tradition dictates that the groom is responsible for purchasing gifts for the male members of the wedding entourage. This group includes the best man, groomsmen, ushers and the ring bearer. It’s also appropriate to present both your father and the father of the bride with tokens of your appreciation for their support.

Customers tell me everyday what a great choice a pocket watch is for a groomsmen gift. It's something a little different but it's still something functional. It can be used again. It makes an interesting fashion statement. It is fun to receive engraved or unengraved. It can be worn as part of the groomsmen's ensemble on the day of the wedding and it can be worn again for future special events.

With that in mind, it's time to add all those people up and see how many pocket watches you need. I sell pocket watches individually or discounted in sets up to 12. I can also create a set of pocket watches for you in any number you like. I have created sets as big as 19 identical pocket watches. All my watches come with matching pocket chains. The pocket watches are all new, boxed and include a black velvet storage pouch for the watch. I also offer engraving on almost all my pocket watches. I can do monograms and initials, dates or special phrases provided by you.

You can see the variety of individual watches and groomsmen gift sets I have available at www.PocketWatchPurveyor.com


27 Jan '15

What is the difference between a monogram and initials?

     A monogram consists of the three initials, and places the last initial in the middle and larger than the other 2 initials.  Initials are simply three initials, straight across, first-middle-last, with all the characters the same size.
     Which style you choose and which style is best is generally a matter of personal taste. I am able to engrave initials either way based on your instruction. Please get in touch if you have questions about initial engraving.


21 Jan '15

Popular Phrases to Engrave on a Pocket Watch

Custom engraving personalizes a pocket watch and makes the gift even more special. Here are some popular suggested phrases:
  • Always & Forever
  • Together Forever
  • This Day Forward
  • Now & For Always
  • On Our Wedding Day
  • My Love Always
  • Best Man & Friend
  • Father of Bride
  • Father of Groom
  • Friends Forever
  • Congratulations
  • Happy Anniversary
  • Happy Birthday
  • Merry Christmas
  • Be My Valentine

Now find the perfect mechanical pocket watch to engrave at www.PocketWatchPurveyor.com