One of the most fun, anticipated aspects of the wedding weekend is the rehearsal dinner! It’s the kick-off to the big day that brings family & friends together to prepare & excite in everything that lies ahead. In order to welcome your wedding participants and guests appropriately, there are a few things you should know about the dinner, so that the celebratory weekend gets off to a great start!
What To Expect
The rehearsal dinner is the gathering that typically takes place after the wedding party & participants has rehearsed the wedding ceremony. It can be an intimate occasion that only includes the attendants of the ceremony rehearsal, or it can be a larger-scale event that includes all “out-of-towners” who have arrived early for the big day. Regardless of the guest list, you should expect lots of toasting, story-telling, mingling, and celebration in your honor (as the bride-and-groom to-be!). It’s the perfect time for guests and wedding participants to get to know each other before the main event; making it even more fun when guests re-connect at the wedding reception the next day!
In addition to guests having an “open-mic-night”(so to speak), this is also an appropriate time for the hosts (typically the parents of the groom) to give a speech to the bride-to-be and her family. The groom is also welcome to give a short toast in honor of his in-laws & bride. Other than that, the floor is open for all kinds of well-wishes to be shared for the happy couple!
Gift Giving Traditions
The rehearsal dinner can be a great time to present the gifts for your attendants, parents, and each other, before the big day. It’s also a great time to remind everyone of wedding related activities & announcements—so come prepared with reminders.
Who is Invited
This is one of the most popular questions we get! It can be stressful to balance appropriate guests lists for showers, parties, and the wedding; but the nice thing about the rehearsal dinner is that the guest list can be relatively straight-forward, based on what you envision.
Want an intimate setting?
In addition to close family members, plan to invite your officiant, your attendants, and their spouses. Inviting children is optional, depending on your preference for the evening. This will create a small, cozy, setting that allows your closest friends and family to relax and enjoy each other’s company before the big day.
Want a party?
Plan on inviting everyone that is involved in the wedding (officiant, attendants, family, and spouses, as noted above) and everyone that is staying at a hotel for the night. That way, any out-of-towners will be entertained during their visit, and have the opportunity to mingle with people they may not have met before. Inviting local guests is not necessary or expected for this event (in fact, it would blur the distinct difference between the rehearsal dinner and the wedding guest list).
*Keep in mind, the rehearsal dinner invitation should be printed and mailed about 2-3 weeks after the wedding invitations are mailed.
Based on your preference for an intimate or large affair, the options can be limitless for where you host the event! You can even branch out from restaurants and seek small wedding venues and private homes (if your budget and guest list allow). Since you won’t be coordinating a huge, complex event (like the wedding), then it’s best to choose a place that will allow for comfortable socializing and a relaxed, unstructured atmosphere. Just be sure to plan enough time in advance to account for the menu selections, music & audio (for toasting), rentals items, and personal décor elements that you might like to include (a slideshow is always a big hit!).
Most importantly, ENJOY the rehearsal dinner! You & your fiancé are the guests of honor, so soak up every minute of the special time with friends and family as they acknowledge your special relationship and life together.