Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette: Tips And Advice


rehearsal dinner etiquette
photo credit: Andrew Morrell Photography via photopin cc
rehearsal dinner etiquette
photo credit: Andrew Morrell Photography via photopin cc

Getting ready for a rehearsal dinner? Check out a few etiquette tips:

Who Pays?

Traditional rehearsal dinner etiquette says the groom’s parents pay for the rehearsal dinner because it’s how the groom’s mother shows she too can entertain the masses, er, most people on your guest list. However, more and more couples are paying for their own wedding or sharing expenses between both families, so you get to decide who shoulders this fabulous pre-wedding party event. Remember-whoever pays gets the final say on the details!

Who Are We Inviting?

You’re inviting the entire wedding party, your officiant and any other close family and friends, however cultural or religious factors may have an influence. For example, Jewish tradition dictates it’s customary to invite anyone going to the wedding to the rehearsal dinner. They’ve flown out, after all, and they need to eat. The end.

However, you totally have the right to invite who you want—or even to hold two events. While some  purists say two events makes guests feel excluded and awkward, more and more couples are choosing to have their dinner at a swanky restaurant with their closest family and friends, then meet up with more friends and out-of-towners later at the restaurant’s bar for the pre-wedding toasts. Besides, it’s how you word the invite: Simply request the second group of guests arrive later for the rehearsal “party.” They’ll probably never known the actual dinner has already happened, because they’ll be too busy snarfing down yummy tray-passed appetizers, cocktails and desserts!

When Should I Start Planning?

Make the reservation as soon as you can–at least three to six months in advance of the date. Couples generally have an idea of who’s coming three months in, and they can plan a menu that doesn’t conflict with their wedding day. You might want to schedule your rehearsal dinner on a Thursday night if you’re having a Saturday wedding, as there’s a very good chance you’ll reduce the cost of the dinner by a lot. It also gives everyone a chance party their tails off, sleep it off on Friday, and wake up refreshed for a beautiful wedding on Saturday.

What’s a Good Location?

So many great rehearsal dinner locations exist it’s hard to pick one! Coordinators can help you decide, but a favorite restaurant is always a great choice. Select a place that’s close to your rehearsal site if possible, which is convenient for everyone involved, and make sure you’ve reserved a private room if you’re going to do karaoke or have a slide show!

Do I Need to Have Cake at the Reception AND the Rehearsal Dinner?

Only if you want! The rehearsal dinner provides the chance to enjoy other desserts–think ice cream sundae tables, chocolate fountains, cupcakes, brownies…you get the idea. You should also attempt to have the dessert complement the meal. For example, if you’re serving steak for dinner, a lemon confection is a light, yummy dessert. Chocolate is better after chicken or fish, and if the meal is super-complicated go the simple dessert route, such as champagne sabayon, fresh berries and pound cake.

When Should I Mail Rehearsal Dinner Invites?

Shoot for four weeks before the event and, of course, after the wedding invitations! It’s never a good idea to mail the rehearsal dinner invite with the wedding invite, because they’re still two separate events. Elegant, formal invitations are ideal for the wedding, but feel free to get creative with color and thematic elements for the dinner invites.

Have fun planning this event! Any other tips you’d like to share?

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