Question: Do I really need to have a wedding rehearsal?
Answer: You don't have to have one. That being said, I would really recommend it. Even if you're a go-with-the-flow type of person, it's really helpful to go through the ceremony at least once.
Things to cover in the rehearsal include:
Bridal Party Processional- Make sure everyone meets his or her partner. Determine the order of the entrance. Determine where everyone will stand up front. Have someone look at the bridal party standing up front to see how it looks. (Yesterday at a rehearsal the bride's mom kindly pointed out that the bridesmaids were standing in a straight line while the groomsmen were on an angle). Also to consider: are bridesmaids walking in alone, or with the groomsmen?
The Bride's Entrance - When exactly does the bride walk in? Is the bride walking in with an escort? Are the bride and groom walking together?
Readings - Make sure your reader knows what he or she will be reading. Your reader may be nervous, and an opportunity to practice may help. Let your reader know when in the ceremony the reading will happen. Cues are always helpful!
To consider: Will the reader hold a microphone? Does the reader have a copy of the reading?
Rituals - If you are participating in any unity rituals, this would be the time to practice! It's helpful to know where you'll be standing and exactly what to do - and when. To consider - If the bride's dress has a long train, the maid of honor will need to help arrange the train when the bride walks.
Details - When will the bride give her flowers to the maid of honor - and take them back? Who will have the rings? Do any of the bridal party have other duties (handing out programs, etc.)?
Recessional - Make sure you know when to walk out. Let your bridal party practice walking out together, especially if there are partners.
As you see, there are lots of things to cover in a rehearsal. It doesn't have to be a major event, but a run-through can go a long way in calming people's nerves. The rehearsal also doesn't necessarily have to happen at the venue. Although that would be ideal, it's not always possible. You can have your rehearsal at private room in a restaurant (right before the dinner), at a park, or even in your backyard! The idea is that this is a practice for the Big Day, and should be thought of as a way to iron out the details.
One last thought - try to schedule your rehearsal a few days before the wedding (rather than the traditional day-before rehearsal). This way, you'll have more time to do any last-minute things (example: the jar for your blessing stones is too small and you need a new one!). Also, you may have a little more time to relax - and breathe! - if you have some space between events.
Hope this helps! Happy rehearsing! And don't forget to bring your bow & ribbon bouquet!