Wednesday, June 17, 2009

INFO: To rehearse, or not to rehearse?

Traditionally speaking, rehearsals are a time to introduce families and friends, and spend time with those who are more intimately involved in a ceremony. From a practical standpoint, rehearsals allow you to work out logistics, anticipate problems and calm nerves.

WHAT - Definition of REHEARSAL - “The act of practicing in preparation for a public performance, or a detailed enumeration or repetition of actions.”(Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

At a minimum, the goals of a rehearsal are to:
1) Experience a no-pressure trial run of the ceremony. Test the sequence of events.
2) Foresee potential problems and address concerns.
3) Assess location and environment, such as the position of the sun or times of the tides; foot traffic and parking; need for signage, etc.
4) Prepare participants. Determine positions at beginning, during and at end of ceremony.

WHO - All participants of a ceremony are usually present at a rehearsal. This includes attendants, ushers, officiants and any additional parties such as children and other family members. Adjunct participants, such as musicians or photographers, may also be included.

WHY - Rehearsal goals include anticipating problems or concerns; practicing choreography; determining logistics; familiarizing participants with the unfamiliar; and calming nerves. There are many more traditional and pragmatic reasons for a rehearsal, as it is an opportunity to:

  • Get to know the ceremony, participants and venue.
  • Establish cues and pace. Who does what, when? How far apart will people walk and stand?
  • Evaluate visibility. Use this time to work out placement of objects, equipment, props and people.
  • Prepare children, people with special needs, animals, etc.
  • Soundcheck and evaluate acoustics. Is amplification or a microphone required? Does a waterfall need to be turned off?
  • Ask questions!

WHERE - Rehearsals are ideally held at the location or venue of the actual event. However, the location can be recreated or approximated almost anyplace convenient to the participants.

WHEN - Rehearsals are scheduled near the event date and time, to best recreate or approximate conditions of the actual event.

HOW - Officiants, hosts or masters of ceremony usually lead rehearsals. Many event planners and coordinators are available for rehearsals, but sometimes require an additional fee. Assertive, trusted and/or organized family members may also run rehearsals.

Feasibility – Are you planning your ceremony from abroad? If you are traveling specifically for the ceremony, you may not have the time or resources for a rehearsal. Are you budget-conscious? Some locations and professionals may charge extra for a rehearsal.
Availability of participants – Work, travel and other obligations may dictate who is able to attend the rehearsal.
Availability of venue – Some locations have a limited schedule of days/times set aside for rehearsals.

Ceremonies with a small number of participants (especially those without children or elderly) do not always require a rehearsal. Simple, straightforward ceremonies (those without additional elements such as rituals or readings) also may not need to rehearsed. However, be sure to at least visit the location of the ceremony prior to the event, and assess the situation to consider the variables outlined above!

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