Your wedding celebrations actually begin the day before the wedding, with the rehearsal dinner. It is often the first opportunity for family members and guests to meet and get to know each other. Like a calm before the storm, says egala, it’s usually relaxed and intimate, allowing the bride and groom to unwind with those near and dear before the whirlwind of the main event.
Traditionally, the groom’s parents host and pay for the rehearsal dinner. Nowadays, however, planning and hosting weddings is often a group effort. You’ll need to discuss plans for hosting the rehearsal dinner during your initial wedding budget talks.
The guest list typically includes the wedding party, immediate family, and the officiant. Some couples choose to invite out-of-town guests as well. Just like every other party leading up to your wedding, you should send out invitations so your guests know who is included at the dinner.
Due to its intimate nature, rehearsal dinners are well-suited for toasting (and roasting). As the traditional host, the father of the groom usually welcomes the guests. Anyone can offer a toast: the best man, maid of honor, bridesmaids, uncles, neighbors. Sometimes the bride and groom use this opportunity to distribute attendant gifts, and of course thank families and guests for their support.
For convenience reasons, the rehearsal dinner should take place close to the wedding location. Restaurants are always a popular option, but some couples like to get creative, opting for mansions, museums, parks, or gardens to host their rehearsal dinner. More and more couples are choosing casual rehearsal dinners, where brides and grooms can relax and enjoy themselves before the main event. Some go all-out, centering the dinner around a fun activity such as a boat cruise, wine tasting, casino night, mini golf, or even bowling.
Regardless, try to plan a rehearsal dinner that’s relaxing and enjoyable for all your guests. Keep the drinking to a minimum, and don’t stay out too late… you’ll need a clear head and a good night’s sleep for the real party the next day!