What to Do If Your Ceremony Venue Isn't Available for Rehearsal

No, you don't have to call off the wedding—you just need to relax and get creative.
maggie seaver the knot wedding planning expert
Maggie Seaver
maggie seaver the knot wedding planning expert
Maggie Seaver
Wedding Planning Expert
  • Maggie Seaver is an Associate Digital Editor at RealSimple.com.
  • Maggie writes about life, career, health, and more.
  • Maggie was an editor at The Knot from 2015 to 2019.
Updated Mar 08, 2018

Raise your hand if your ceremony venue isn't available when you're trying to do a run-through. Now raise your hand if you had a panic attack over it. Please don't worry! It's a teeny-tiny dilemma no one really talks about, or even thinks about, until it's happening. Maybe the chapel you're saying your vows in has a service right before your rehearsal dinner, or the hotel ballroom is hosting another wedding the night (or even a few hours) before yours. Whatever the deal, take it in stride. We promise it's not worth losing sleep over.

Take Preventative Measures

If you know your anxiety will get the better of you if something like this happens, bring up your concern to the manager during your initial site tour. Ask if there's a possibility of slipping in a 30–40 minute rehearsal at your site the day before, either at your ceremony location or in another spot on-site. (And don't forget to ask if it'll cost extra—you don't want any surprises.)

Use Your Imagination

The truth is you can pretty much rehearse your ceremony—and any other choreographed moments (like your wedding party entrance, father-daughter dance and so on)—wherever you want. All you need is a little creativity. For a more accurate re-creation of your site, ask your site manager for a layout with dimensions. That way, you'll know where exactly the stairs are in relation to the seats, how long the aisle will be, where that giant floral arrangement will go and so on. If you've hired a planner, florists and photographers, they'll probably want (or already have) one of these on file too.

Roll With the Punches

But what's the worst-case scenario? You gather your wedding party and officiant for quick run-through in your parents' living room, a nearby park, the rehearsal dinner restaurant parking lot or wherever your imagination (read: convenience) takes you. Some sites will let you pop in to rehearse an hour before your real ceremony starts. This is actually kind of a sweet deal—you'll get to rehearse in your exact ceremony spot when everything, like the instruments, microphones, flowers and décor, will already be set up. Then, when it's showtime, everything will be fresh in everyone's mind. Just don't forget to allot enough time to get ready, take photos and run through the program.

Most importantly, make sure everyone has their speaking parts down and a general sense of where they're meant to be and when. Is anyone going to remember if two bridesmaids stood on the same step instead of in descending order? Probably not.

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