You’ve just finished running through the ceremony at the venue and things are starting to feel so real! AH, you’re getting married tomorrow! Now where off to next? The rehearsal dinner. The rehearsal dinner is a time when two families can come together in a more intimate setting than the wedding reception. For some families, the wedding weekend is the first time meeting each other, so having a rehearsal dinner for family and close friends is a must in our book. Wedding planners love seeing the looks on their couple’s faces after the ceremony rehearsal, it’s their last night before becoming newlyweds! Let’s go over a few guidelines and tips for the rehearsal dinner. If you think about it, it’s your last shebang before tying the knot, so let’s do it right!
Start off by asking yourself: what kind of party do you want this to be? A casual dinner with open seating or a more upscale event with added floral and place cards? This is totally up to what you and your beau want. Traditionally, the groom’s family hosts the rehearsal dinner, so collaborating with your soon-to-be in-laws is an important detail. Considering your families and bridal party when making this decision is often wise. Overall, do what your heart desires, but keep the vibe of who will be attending in mind. Lastly, you don’t want to ‘outshine’ the reception. If you do want an upscale rehearsal dinner by all means have one, but leave the wow factor for tomorrow’s ultimate party, your wedding reception!
The rehearsal dinner is right after the actual wedding ceremony rehearsal, so the guest list focuses on who will be in the ceremony, plus a few other groups. As wedding planners, we want to inform you of the traditional customs when it comes to guest lists for you wedding festivities. Proper wedding etiquette is always a must. However, there are also non-traditional options in this realm that by all means you should go for too!
The Traditional Must-Haves
Invitations – The best way to inform guests of your rehearsal dinner is by written invitation. That way guests have a tangible reminder of the event. Make sure to send these out with, at the same time as, or right after the wedding invitations, that way guests are kept in the loop about timing and can plan travel accordingly.
Toasts – This is the main event of the rehearsal dinner! Unlike at the wedding reception, these toasts can go on slightly longer and can be more informal. It’s best for the toasting to happen during dinner, that way the speeches won’t go on for too long. It’s custom for the groom’s father (most likely the host) to speak first and give a welcome, then for the bride’s father to give a toast, and then followed by all others who want to speak. Be prepared for your friends and family to unleash embarrassing stories, inside jokes, and tales from your past!
Bridal Party Gifts – Presenting your bridal party with their gifts on the night of the rehearsal dinner may make things easier for the both of you on the day of. This is one last thing you have to do on your big day, plus it presents the opportunity to take your time and enjoy saying thank you to your bridesmaids/groomsmen. Although we try to make back and forth transportation as smooth as possible on the day of, this also allows your bridal party to stow these gifts away and not have to carry them around on the day of.
Your rehearsal dinner is one of the many exciting events leading up to your wedding day. Often times it can get overlooked as something you just have to do the night before. Make the night special and really be present with your close friends and family on the night before you become newly-weds!
Written By: Rachel Hegner