Every great event, including a wedding, needs a rehearsal, a chance for all the participants to run through their roles and understand the big picture. In many cases the entire wedding party comes together for the first time at the rehearsal, which makes it an opportunity for family members and friends from both sides of the aisle to get to know one another.
The atmosphere at the rehearsal should be informal and cheerful. The rehearsal takes place where the wedding will occur so that the participants will feel more relaxed when they show up for the ceremony.
By tradition the bride asks one of her attendants to walk down the aisle in her place during the rehearsal, but otherwise, everyone goes through exact routine he or she will perform on the wedding day. The officiant, usually a member of the clergy or a judge, will also either read or explain the remarks he or she will make at the ceremony. This is also a chance to get an idea from the officiant about the nature of his remarks. Anyone who will read a poem, piece of scripture, or other prose should practice doing so while you check out the sound system.
The Rehearsal Dinner
Traditionally, the participants attend the rehearsal dinner immediately following the wedding rehearsal. The circumstances vary widely, but most often the parents of the groom host the dinner. When the groom's family is from out of town, the bride and her family should provide support by helping to choose the restaurant and make any other local arrangements.
These occasions are generally informal, and invitations are telephoned, although written invitations are gracious. It is an opportunity for the two families to meet and get to know each other a little better before the wedding. In addition to the wedding party and the two families, the dinner sometimes includes out-of-town guests who have arrived early for the wedding.
In addition, the rehearsal dinner is the time for the bride and groom to give their attendants their gifts. These modest gifts commemorate the wedding and thus often are engraved with the wedding date. Traditional gifts include bracelets and other jewelry for the bridesmaids and cuff links and silver shot glasses for the groomsmen.