The dinner held directly after the rehearsal is a special evening spent with those you love most. The past several months of planning probably felt like a whirlwind. Now that it’s done, savor the moment. Visit with your loved ones and happily anticipate what the next day will bring.
What is it? The rehearsal dinner is similar to a small-scale wedding reception, wonderful food, fellowship and celebration for the couple! The dinner is usually hosted (paid for) by the groom’s parents. If that is not an option, the couple, a family member, or friend may volunteer to host the event. The dinner can be as elaborate or simple as you would like! Typically, if the wedding reception will be extremely formal, having a relaxed atmosphere for the rehearsal dinner is a good choice. Often the rehearsal dinner pays tribute to the region in which the wedding is being held or celebrate the cultural heritage of the bride and groom. Be careful to not let the rehearsal dinner outshine the wedding reception. It must be a lead in and not a main feature. When choosing the menu, be certain you are not serving the same dishes. If the wedding reception will consist of a duet of beef and fish, perhaps barbecue or fried chicken might be a nice first night fare.
What are the food and beverage expectations? This completely depends on the rehearsal time at the church. If the rehearsal is at or past 6:00pm, then typically a full dinner and host bar is provided. This option is what we encourage and think most appropriate. If, however, the rehearsal at the church is in the evening, it will be late by the time the guests transition to the event room for the party. They will be hungry!!!!!!! So if you host a cocktail hour with minimal food to save money, they will consume all of the hors d’oeuvres before you can grab your second drink (plus the event will not last as long and guests will get drunk much easier)! If you are not interested in hosting a full meal, just manage your guests’ expectations by carefully wording the invitation. That way if some guests are really concerned about getting a traditional three course meal, they can grab a bite beforehand or make restaurant reservations for after your event.
Take a look at the layout of the event room, if the dinner location is spacious, you might consider renting audio/video equipment so that every guest can hear the toasts and show a movie of the couple! Also, you might want to see if the photographer or videographer would be available to come that evening to shoot the special moments!
Traditions: Toasts are inevitable at the rehearsal dinner. This may be the first opportunity for friends and family to get to know one another. Naturally, guests will want to share stories and express their happiness for the couple. You can either predetermine who will give a toast or you can open the microphone up! Either way, brace yourself for potentially embarrassing anecdotes. If you fear that your speakers’ content may be inappropriate, speak to them before the dinner to avoid hard feelings later. Also, if you want to limit the number of toasters at the reception, encourage them to speak at the rehearsal to avoid hurt feelings. Ask everyone to keep it within 3-5 minutes each or you will start boring your guests (this goes for both the rehearsal and the reception).
Who is invited? Proper etiquette says immediate family, bridal party including spouses, the officiate, and all out-of-town guests. We say, you need to show your appreciation to all of your guests, but keep in mind, the rehearsal dinner is much more intimate! Embarrassing stories will be told, family members will be meeting for the first time, tears will be shed and inside stories will be revealed! Some out-of-town guests that only saw you five years ago at another wedding, might feel uncomfortable attending such a private event! Only thing we encourage is to stay consistent! If you invite a few out-of-town guests, then invite them all! Also, be upfront with your host about who will be invited. If there is a much higher percentage of traveling guests on your side that will increase the guest count from 40 to 80, you will need to let them know far in advance that this could be the case to plan financially.
If you have a large percentage of out-of-town guests coming and you don’t want to dilute the intimate feeling of the rehearsal dinner, then consider planning a “post-rehearsal party” or a “pre-wedding reception”. Have your dinner with your close loved ones, then host a separate reception to show your appreciation afterwards! Better yet, invite them to the Hangover Brunch on Sunday morning (see our blog for details) as well.
Add details about either events in the welcome basket!
Invitations? No matter what you have heard or how casual the event will be, you need to send a proper invitation! Even though some choose to send the invitations with the formal wedding invitation, we encourage to send separate ones. The last thing you want after spending a small fortune on your formal invitations, is to have a Texas BBQ themed piece of paper blocking the view of the elegance that is your wedding invitation. Also, you want to avoid people sending their RSVP to the wrong contact person. For example, sending in your response card with a note saying that they will attend the rehearsal dinner as well, but there are two different hosts, this is miscommunication waiting to happen!!!
To theme or not to theme: We have planned everything from a down-home barbecue, Italian family style feasts, spreads of sushi, and Mexican fiestas!!! This is time to have FUN!!!! Of course, everyone will love the traditional steak house, but you want to make sure that it will feel completely different than the reception!
What to Wear?!? Our most important tip is to wear shoes that you trust! The last thing you want is to deal with blisters on the big day!!!
Intro picture is from stylemepretty.com
2nd Intro picture from nicoandlala.blogspot.com
Toast picture from ralphdeeds.hubpages.com
Welcome basket is from lisavorce.com
1st Invitation picture from etsy.com
2nd invitation picture from zazzle.com
1st theme picture from indulgy.com
2nd theme picture from colorblind.smugmug.com
3rd theme picture from snippetandink.com
1st Rehearsal dinner dress from farfetch.com
2nd Rehearsal dinner dress from theoutnet.com