Wedding Rehearsal Dinner 101

wedding party outdoor weddingThe wedding rehearsal dinner is a special time before the wedding, after all the planning and preparations are finished, for a bride and groom to relax and celebrate with their family and friends.  In most cases, the rehearsal dinner kicks off all the wedding festivities.  Many rehearsal dinners are the beginning of a weekend filled with parties, family, friends and love.  Why not make sure your rehearsal dinner stands out from the crowd by planning a unique rehearsal dinner?  Before planning your rehearsal dinner, there are a few things to consider first.

When planning the rehearsal dinner, couples often question the etiquette surrounding this wedding tradition.  Of all the wedding celebrations, this party probably has the fewest “rules” to follow, which makes it easy and fun to plan something unusual for your bridal party, family and friends to enjoy.
Traditionally, the parents or family of the groom pay for the rehearsal dinner.  But today’s weddings are often a group effort with both families pitching in.  Some couples even to pay for the rehearsal dinner themselves as way to thank their bridal party and family for everything they’ve done.  That’s all the more reason to throw an unusual celebration for your rehearsal dinner!
wedding partyThe guest list for the rehearsal dinner is often a topic of fierce debate between a couple and their families, especially if someone other than the couple pays for the dinner.  Traditionally, the rehearsal dinner was intended for the couple, the members of the wedding party and the bride and groom’s immediate family.  This is the bare minimum for a guest list for the rehearsal dinner.  It’s also a nice gesture to invite the officiant of the marriage, though if he’s not close to the couple or busy with other things he may decline.  If you are able to afford it and have the space, it’s a nice idea to invite the spouses or significant others of your bridal party.  Many wedding experts recommend inviting any out of town guests who have arrived for the wedding as well.

Most rehearsal dinners are held at a restaurant, directly following the rehearsal on the night before the wedding.  There are no rules that say you have to schedule this the night before the wedding.  If you can, and your place of worship or ceremony location can accommodate you, try to schedule it a few days before the wedding.  That way, the night before the wedding is free for you to tend to last minute preparations or simply relax with your friends and family.

Be creative and think outside the box when planning your rehearsal dinner.  Show off your personality as a couple at your rehearsal dinner.  Rather than a random restaurant or banquet hall, why not throw a party at the place you and your fiancé first met (if it’s appropriate, of course!).  Make the theme of the evening all about you and your love story.  Prepare a slide show of pictures throughout your relationship, with “your” song playing in the background.  Serve the food you ate on your first date, or the wine you drank after you became engaged or the ice cream sundaes from the store where you met when you worked together in high school.

Some other ideas include getting tickets to a sporting event (whatever happens to be in season) and setting up a huge tailgate party in the parking lot of ahead of time, complete with a tent.  Or, throw a wine or beer tasting parting, a picnic at the park or a theme party celebrating your heritage.

wedding rehersal party listDuring the wedding, make sure to take time to make a speech thanking all the parents for all they’ve done for you, both with the wedding planning and in your life.   Also, take a few minutes to give out your thank you gifts to the bridesmaids and groomsmen.  Your wedding day will be so busy that it’s best to hand out these gifts at the rehearsal dinner.

The sky is really the limit when it comes to ideas for unusual and fun rehearsal dinners.  Remember, this is a time for you to enjoy being with your bridal party, friends and family, and for all of them to get a chance to meet before the wedding.  Your wedding day will truly go by in a blur, so make sure you plan a rehearsal dinner that everyone will remember well into the future.

Yvone Kon is a freelance writer, blogger and mom.  She frequently writes about weddings, wedding planning, wedding fashion and mother of the bride outfits.  She is the author of the blog EventSpiration, providing inspiration and ideas for weddings, parties and holidays.  For information on freelance writing projects, please contact her via her blog.
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