Simply rehearsal dinner.

Tips for Mom: The Rehearsal Dinner

The rehearsal dinner is one of the high points of most weddings. Held right or soon after the wedding rehearsal (generally the night before the wedding day), it brings together the bride and groom's families and the wedding party, and sometimes close friends from out of town. It's customary for the groom's family to host the rehearsal party—but if the groom's family chooses not to give the rehearsal dinner, it's fine for the bride's family to arrange one. Similarly, it's perfectly appropriate for the two families—and perhaps the bride and groom—to split the cost. If the dinner is taking place in the bride's hometown, the bride's parents can be a great help by offering suggestions on possible sites. 

Where to hold it?

For the convenience of the wedding party and guests, the dinner should be held somewhere fairly close to the ceremony site and the venue should be reserved as soon as the dates of the wedding and wedding rehearsal have been determined. Consider renting a room in a private club that does its own catering, or reserving a private room in a restaurant. A catered dinner in a private home is also a popular option. For example, hometown friends of the bride's family might offer their house (or yard, or beach) for the dinner, with the groom's family (or whoever is hosting) paying for the catering, service staff, and cleanup. Mainly, you want a place where the wedding party and close family can come together, relax, and focus on what each person has to say, because the toasts and anecdotes are likely to fly! 

What's the style?

A rehearsal dinner can range from a formal or semiformal sit-down dinner or buffet to a beach-side clambake or picnic. The goal is to have a relaxed, convivial time, toast the bride and groom, and share some food, drink, and laughter before the whirlwind of the wedding day. The only rule: the rehearsal should never be more formal or more lavish than the wedding reception.  

Who's invited?

The rehearsal dinner guest list includes:
  • the wedding party;
  • the attendants' husbands, wives, fiancĂ©(e)s, and live-in companions;
  • the officiant and his or her spouse or partner;
  • parents, stepparents (and spouses), and grandparents of the bride and groom;
  • any other siblings of the couple who are not in the wedding party
  • the parents of young attendants, such as a ring bearer or flower girl.
When single attendants have been invited to bring a date to the wedding, it's kind to include their dates at the rehearsal dinner. At larger gatherings, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews of the bride and groom are frequently included as well. After that, any number of people may be invited, including out-of-town guests, close friends, and godparents—if you want a larger group at this dinner. 

What about invitations?

Invitations are usually written on informal or fill-in cards, but they could also be printed. Handwritten notes, a phone call, or e-mail are other options. Do include RSVP information, usually a phone number or e-mail address, and a reply-by date if needed. Send invitations three to six weeks in advance and include directions.

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