Whether you’re planning a weekend of wedding events or keeping it relatively simple, your celebration will probably start with a rehearsal dinner. What is this event? Generally, it is a celebration that takes place immediately after the wedding rehearsal the day before the wedding and is traditionally planned and organized by the groom’s parents. Rehearsal Dinner Restaurants
Rehearsal Dinner Restaurants
Typically, all members of both families, members of the wedding party, and out-of-town guests are invited to the event, but the final guest list is ultimately at the discretion of the couple.
For many couples, rehearsal dinners have evolved into full-fledged events with their venue, decor, and special menu. However, you should feel free to make it your own and keep things as formal or informal as you like.
Ready to start planning your rehearsal dinner? From creating a floor plan to choosing a unique location to putting together a menu, you have a lot of creative freedom when putting together your event.
Whether you want to organize an intimate affair or a larger party, the possibilities are endless. With that in mind, we spoke with wedding planners Layne Povey and Sunna Yassin to answer the top etiquette questions and share their top tips for planning a rehearsal dinner.
Rehearsal dinner etiquette
Rehearsal dinners can be part of the wedding weekend but have their own rules of etiquette. Here you will find answers to the most common questions couples have about this pre-wedding event.
Who organizes the rehearsal dinner?
While the groom’s parents traditionally plan and organize this event before the wedding, times are certainly changing. Sometimes it’s even a mix of all parties, says Povey. If you have very specific ideas about how you want this event to look, taking control of the planning may be the right decision.
Who pays for the rehearsal dinner?
Under the traditional assumption that the bride’s family foots the bill for the wedding, common etiquette suggests that the groom’s side organize and pay for the rehearsal dinner. We all know that finances, etiquette, and traditions have expanded and changed in modern times, but for super-traditional couples, this is the general rule of thumb.
Who will be invited to the rehearsal dinner?
In general, you should invite “close family members, the wedding party, their guests, and sometimes out-of-town guests if they’ve traveled a long way,” says Povey. Additionally, the officiant and any readers or ushers can be added to the wedding rehearsal dinner guest list. Rehearsal Dinner Restaurants
Depending on how big your family and wedding party is, it can be quite a crowd. In addition, many couples also invite extended family as well as the ring bearer and flower girl (depending on age and relationship to the couple).
What is the best way to invite guests to a rehearsal dinner?
When it comes to rehearsal dinner invitation etiquette, it is not as strict as wedding invitation etiquette. While every attendee should receive an invitation, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a formal printed version. Rehearsal Dinner Restaurants
An online invitation or a phone call is certainly possible for a rehearsal dinner. Typically, more formal business involves a formal invitation by mail, and more informal, casual gatherings involve a phone call or e-vite.
When do you send out rehearsal dinner invitations?
As with all organized events, guests must be informed of the date four to six weeks in advance for planning purposes. Guest lists for rehearsal dinners cannot be adopted because some couples choose only immediate family and others invite almost half of their wedding guests. Communicate this to your guests in a timely and thoughtful manner.
When is your rehearsal dinner?
For traditional Saturday weddings, rehearsal dinners are usually held on the eve of the wedding, immediately following the wedding ceremony. Couples who do not have a proper rehearsal often celebrate with a dinner or social gathering.
For the increasingly popular Sunday or Friday weddings, dinners can be organized the Thursday, Friday, or Saturday before. When taking your time, make sure that not all the guests (and of course the brides-to-be) arrive late at night. The main event remains after all.
Where will the rehearsal dinner take place?
Proximity is key. Try to have your rehearsal dinner within about 20 miles of the hotel where your guests are staying or close to where your ceremony will take place. Remember that guests are coming to celebrate your weekend, so they shouldn’t be expected to travel much further than 45 minutes to the rehearsal dinner. If possible, it is always good to provide clear directions or even transport information.
How formal should the rehearsal dinner be?
The rehearsal dinner can be as formal or informal as you like, depending on your budget and preferences. Many couples try to hold a themed rehearsal dinner after the wedding, making this party feel like an extension of the wedding itself and fit seamlessly into the rest of the weekend. Rehearsal Dinner Restaurants
“If the couple is having a very traditional wedding, sometimes they want an equally traditional rehearsal dinner to set the tone. But sometimes they want something that feels more relaxed and casual. There are no rules.
How to plan a rehearsal dinner in 10 steps
Are you ready to plan a rehearsal dinner for your wedding? We’ve taken the guesswork out of the planning process and broken it down into these easy 10 steps.
Decide who will host
Traditionally, the groom’s parents provide the rehearsal dinner, but these days anything is possible. If both parents are splitting the cost of the wedding, you and your partner may want to pay for the rehearsal dinner. Talk to your partner and parents to find the best solution for your situation.
Choose a nice theme
A fun way to start your wedding weekend is to incorporate a theme into your rehearsal dinner. You can design the party according to your cultural background or respond to the wedding venue.
Choose a unique location
Whether you choose a family-favorite restaurant or a place with sentimental value, the choice is truly yours. “We love a rehearsal dinner held in a family atmosphere with a family. Or, if your wedding is at a hotel, consider venues within the hotel that are more unique than traditional wedding venues. Around the hotel pool, in a charming bar, or even a large guest suite with a view,” suggests Povey.
Create the guest list
The rehearsal dinner guest list usually includes immediate family members and everyone attending the wedding ceremony (including the best man), as well as their spouses or dates. It also makes sense to invite guests from the city to the celebration. However, if your list is very long, you can keep costs down by serving only cocktails, appetizers, or desserts instead of a full meal.
Think about timing
The rehearsal dinner traditionally takes place the night before the wedding, usually on Friday. Normally, the ceremony rehearsal starts around 17:30. and usually lasts about 30 to 45 minutes. The dinner takes place immediately after the rehearsal, usually around 19:00. With a Sunday or public holiday wedding, you have more options.
Some couples choose to hold the rehearsal dinner two nights before the wedding to give everyone. If most of the guests arrive late the night before your wedding, a breakfast party on the morning of the wedding is also a good idea.
Plan your menu
Whether you plan to host the rehearsal dinner at your favorite restaurant or at a banquet hall (in which case you’ll need to hire a catering company), make sure your menu is in order at the planning stage. If in doubt, consider serving up hometown favorites to introduce local cuisine to out-of-town guests. Who doesn’t love Chicago pizza, New Orleans Cajun, Tex-Mex, or Maine lobster? Your guests will eat it up.
Plan to pass the microphone
Although it is customary for the host to greet the guests at the beginning of the party, some guests may also want to stand and give a quick toast. Yassin encourages couples to “choose a host for the evening who can oversee all the toasts and speeches.”
Don’t be surprised if there is a lot of toasting, and watch it all with good humor. You and your partner should also plan to make short speeches of your own (after the host has done so or near the end of the evening).
Give gifts to the wedding party
The rehearsal dinner is the traditional time to give gifts to members of the wedding party (especially if the gifts are items you would like to wear to the wedding). Any gifts you have for her can also be given out at this time.
Provide short-term reminders
Before dinner ends, take a moment to share your wedding anniversary messages. Ensure everyone in the wedding party knows what items they need to bring and when and where they are expected to arrive to get ready.
If you have a larger crowd, remind guests of any activities for them the next day, as well as any pickup times and transportation locations you’ve arranged for transportation to and from the ceremony.
Don’t forget to have fun
After you and your partner have worked so hard to plan your wedding together, you deserve to enjoy this evening together and with your loved ones. Plan something fun and the rehearsal dinner will be completely stress-free.