It's easy to get caught up in planning your wedding day — the music, the food, the flowers. But if all your focus is on the wedding day itself, you may forget about the rehearsal dinner, which is also important.
Now, traditionally, the groom's parents hosted this wedding festivity, hence the alternative name: groom's dinner. But nowadays, the groom's parents don't necessarily host the dinner. Instead, the bride's parents may host it or the couple themselves might host it. To help ease additional planning anxiety, here's everything you'll need to know for your rehearsal dinner.
Rehearsal Dinner: An Intimate Gathering Before the Big Day
The rehearsal dinner is the last of the pre-wedding festivities and is typically hosted after the wedding ceremony rehearsal. This usually happens the night or two before the wedding. The rehearsal dinner is a great opportunity to spend time with family and closest friends before the craziness of your wedding day. So, enjoy it! It’s a chance to bond over food and drinks while talking about what you’re looking forward to the most about the wedding.
Invite the Wedding Party Plus Close Family and Friends
Consider keeping your rehearsal dinner small, since you'll see everyone you love at your wedding. Plan to invite anyone involved in the actual rehearsal. This includes your parents, the officiant, readers, and members of the wedding party plus their dates. Then, you might consider including a few other immediate family members and close friends. Some couples turn the dinner into a welcoming party by inviting any out-of-town guests as well.
Host it Anywhere You Want
The rehearsal dinner can be as fancy or casual as you’d like. Just remember it should complement the wedding, rather than copy or overshadow it. It could be a sit-down dinner at a fancy restaurant, hotel ballroom, or golf club. Or maybe something simple, such as a backyard barbecue or buffet in the local community room. It could even be just cocktails and hors d'oeuvres instead of a full dinner, too.
In Most Cases, Electronic Invites Will Do
Fancy stationery and formal letters aren’t necessary for your rehearsal dinner invitations. Since it’s usually a more casual affair, it’s perfectly acceptable to send your guests an email or any other electronic invitation. Plan to get the invitations out about four weeks before the dinner to allow guests time to plan their schedule. But if you're planning to invite out-of-town guests or you’re having a more formal dinner, consider sending paper invitations about a week after you send out the actual wedding invites.
What to Expect at Your Rehearsal Dinner
Some people wonder, “What actually happens at the rehearsal dinner?” This gathering can be any way you’d like, but there are some things you should expect to happen at the rehearsal.
First, it’s an opportunity to mingle with your immediate family, wedding party, out-of-town guests, and close friends. Walk around, catch up with family and old friends, and meet any in-laws you haven’t already. Your wedding day flies by (some of it will even be a blur) and you'll have more guests to chat with, so take advantage of this chance to mingle with those closest to you in a quieter, less busy setting.
Introductions and Gifts
Take the time to introduce the members of your wedding party. Be sure to thank them for all of their support. The rehearsal is an ideal time to (very subtly) pass out wedding party gifts. After all, it will likely be one of the last times you connect with them before the wedding festivities.
No one at the rehearsal dinner has to give a toast (although you and your partner should thank your guests for playing a role in your lives/relationship/wedding), but anyone can. Maybe one of your bridesmaids, who won't be toasting you on the big day, wants to say a few words. If you're more traditional, you may have the hosting father and mother give a toast.
The rehearsal dinner is also a great time for some administrative work. Make sure the wedding party knows when the festivities begin, where they need to be, and anything they should bring. You can also communicate any plans, activities, and transportation information with the rest of your guests.