I’ve had a lot of questions recently about rehearsal dinners. Where should I have it? Who do I invite? Who should pay for it? These are all great questions. And I am sure there are more of you who would like to know the answers. So to break it down for you a little bit, let’s get right into it.
What is a ceremony rehearsal?
Typically, the bride, groom, and bridal party rehearse the wedding ceremony prior to the big day. Most of you know this part. It most often takes place at the location where the ceremony is being held (church, synagogue, wedding venue, etc.). It is important that everyone involved in the wedding procession and ceremony is present. This includes, but is not limited to, parent’s of the bride and groom, bridal party, readers, officiant, grandparents, and of course, the bride and groom. During the rehearsal, you will practice the procession, ceremony and recession. That way, everyone will feel a bit more comfortable and know what to do the day of the wedding.
So then what is a rehearsal dinner and why should I have one?
The rehearsal dinner is just a dinner that takes place after the ceremony rehearsal. The main purpose is just to thank everyone who was involved in the planning or is involved in the wedding. If everyone in the bridal party doesn’t know each other, this can be a great place for them to meet and get a little more comfortable with each other. Same goes for the parents of the bride and groom, even though most parents meet way before the big day. There is really no “rehearsing” at the dinner itself. It’s more of a relaxing dinner to enjoy the company of your family and friends before the day of excitement hits. Although, some toasts may take place and serve as a bit of a rehearsal if they are also giving a speech at the wedding.
Where do we have the rehearsal dinner?
This is where it gets fun. ANYWHERE! It can be held in a fancy restaurant or a backyard tent. There are no rules when it comes to where to hold the rehearsal dinner. The only “rule” is that it shouldn’t outshine the wedding itself. I always say that the rehearsal dinner should be more relaxed than the wedding. So if you are having a black tie affair on your wedding day, you may opt for a nice restaurant. If you are having a semi-formal wedding, then a backyard BBQ might be perfect. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure it is a reflection of you two as a couple. If you are huge sports fans, maybe you want to have it in your favorite sports bar. The options are endless!
Who pays for the dinner?
Traditionally, the groom’s parents pay for the rehearsal dinner. However, as you might have figured out by now, tradition is going out the window for a lot of couples. Keep in mind that the families shouldn’t be expected to pay for anything. It isn’t that they don’t want to pay for it, they just might not be able to financially. My suggestion is just to sit down and talk with both sets of parents. If they are able to contribute, they will tell you. Even if it isn’t paying for the whole thing, sometimes they will be able to offer a smaller amount toward it.
Who should be invited?
As I mentioned earlier, everyone who is involved in the ceremony should be invited. Now, do you invite significant others? I think this really depends on your budget and venue. If you have enough space in both of those areas, then yes. I would limit this to people who are in a committed relationship. You don’t really want random people at your rehearsal dinner. Do you invite out-of-town guests? I would give the same advice on this as I did above. It is certainly a nice gesture, but not necessary. Your guest list could be 70% out-of-towners. What then? If you do not invite your out-of-town guests, then just make sure you give them a list of things to do in the area – suggest a few places for dinner, something fun to do, where they can go shopping, the numbers for the local cab service, etc.
With all of that said, I think the most important thing is that there is no right or wrong way of hosting a rehearsal dinner. Just remember that everything relating to your wedding should be a reflection of you as a couple. Don’t make decisions based on tradition or on what others want.