The Rehearsal Dinner
A tradition that remains popular is the rehearsal dinner generally hosted by the grooms parents. While it’s not quite as festive and elaborate as the wedding reception, it usually runs a close second. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the savor the upcoming nuptials in a relaxed atmosphere, without all the other festivities that surround the actual wedding day.
When is the rehearsal dinner held?
Typically it takes place the evening before the wedding, after the rehearsal.
Who hosts the rehearsal dinner?
It is customary that the groom’s parents host the event, although they may solicit the help of the bride and groom in the selection of the venue, especially if they are from out of town and possibly are unfamiliar with the area.Once you make a decision, you should try to book them 6-8 months in advance so you can be sure of their availability when you need them.
Who is invited?
The obvious guest who should be on the list to attend the rehearsal dinner should include the members of the wedding party, the officiant, the parents and grandparents of the bride and groom, and any siblings of the bride and groom who are not in the wedding party. Any stepparents should also be invited with their spouses, but they should not be seated next to their former spouses if present. The wedding party’s husbands, wives, fiancées, fiancés, and live-in companion should be invited but dates are not included. Any children of the bride or groom from a previous marriage also attend, unless they are too young. If there is a flower girl and/or ring bearer included in the ceremony, they should be included as well, as long as the hour is too late for them to attend.
Sometimes the question comes up about out of town guests and whether or not they should be included in the rehearsal dinner. While it’s a nice gesture to include them it depends on your budget. Discuss the situation with the host. Perhaps an alternative would be to arrange a meeting place at another local (easy-to-go-to), casual, inexpensive restaurant and reserve that for them. That could prove to be a nice relaxing alternative for them.
What type of invitation should be extended and when should it be mailed?
Invitations for a rehearsal dinner can be either formal or informal. They can be handwritten or the fill-in-the-blank type. If it is only a small number of persons, a phone call would even do. If there are quite a few, you may want to have the rehearsal invitations printed. They should be sent out anywhere from three to six weeks in advance – whatever you feel comfortable with and depending on when the restaurant and/or caterer need to have a final count.
What happens during the dinner?
The rehearsal is a great time to present gifts, whether they are to the wedding party by the bride and groom, or to the bride and groom by the wedding party or both. These gifts are often accompanied by toasts or a short speech. It is best if toasts are given during dinner rather than at the end. (There are often some down times between courses when this would work well.) If all the toasts are at the end of the evening, it could cause the evening to go too long.
Usually the host – the groom’s father, makes the first toast, welcoming the guests and sharing his feelings and affirmations for the upcoming marriage. His toast is generally followed by a toast by the bride’s father or stepfather. He is then followed by toasts from the groomsmen, bridesmaids, and anyone else who wants to say something.
The toasts by the attendants, may be and usually are, sentimental, but also may include some anecdotes, jokes, and poems revealing tales, experiences and even embarrassments regarding the bride and/or groom to their guests. The bride and groom may stand and speak. Even if they don’t, the usually end the toasting by proposing a toast first to their respective parents and the to all their friends and relatives thanking them for their attendance and support.