I was fortunate enough to be asked to play at a wedding this weekend, which was a ton of fun. It's been a while since I've gotten to play the violin and piano (which was unexpected), and I even got to play the viola because otherwise it would have been three violinists and a cellist, which is a huge imbalance of sound. Not everyone gets the chance to be part of a wedding rehearsal, but since I got the opportunity to be, I thought I would talk a bit about what happened at the wedding rehearsal I was at in order to help you guys should you choose to write wedding scenes.
Wedding rehearsals typically happen the night before a wedding. In this case, it was a Friday night before a Saturday morning wedding. There were two run-throughs: one with the pastor talking and telling us all the steps we would complete, and the second was meant as more of a dress rehearsal. People dress casually for this rehearsal, and should there be another rehearsal Saturday morning, the bride will not participate, as it is custom to not see the bride before she walks down the aisle on the wedding day unless you're helping her get ready.
At the wedding rehearsal I was at, the groomsmen came in first, then the mothers, who (at the rehearsal) will pretend to light respective candles before sitting in the front row. The groom also makes his entrance, followed by the bridesmaids and then the bride with whoever is giving her away.
From the perspective of a wedding musician, I was blocked from seeing most of what was happening during the ceremony itself (to my frustration, I didn't get to see them seal their marriage with a kiss), and it was really difficult to see anyone in the audience because I was in the middle of the quartet. Positioning is important for the musician who is playing, as it will determine how much they can see. I would advise not trying to write a wedding musician without talking to a musician first. Should you choose to do this, ask about instrumentation, what chair placement means, and about things that can go wrong, because many things can.
Finally, the focus of the rehearsal was on timing. It was important to know when to come in and when to leave. At the end of the ceremony, the bride and groom leave first, followed by the best man and the maid of honor. Then each of the bridesmaids and groomsmen will pair up and leave, followed by dismissal of the audience.
This was a very cursory glance at what happened at the wedding rehearsal I attended. In the future, I may write more based on having more experience with this.
Have you had any experiences with weddings that you would like to share, either actual ceremonies or rehearsals? Please feel free to share!