My son is getting married in a few weeks and we are delighted to host the rehearsal dinner. It is not in our town, so it has been difficult to make the arrangements, but now we are set at a nice restaurant with outdoor seating. We will be the only ones there as it is a small place but very nice. Since so many people are coming from out of town and have to stay in hotels, we graciously said that we would expand the guest list to include more than the bridal party. We are now at 60 guests. We mailed invitations and have been trying to do everything right since this is our first family wedding. Tonight the bride said that we need to develop a seating plan and have place cards and a head table for bridal party etc.

rehearsal dinner cards


I think that this is not a formal event and I would rather let people sit with whomever they please. She went through a big ordeal with wedding seating and after looking at the way she did it, I think a lot of people will not be all that comfortable sitting with strangers and might prefer sitting with other guests they don’t get to see often. When I said I didn’t think placecards were necessary for the rehearsal dinner, the bride got noticeably perturbed and I can tell she is annoyed with me and my ruining her big event. I feel that since I am the hostess of this event, I should be able to decide. Am I in the wrong here? Do I really need to develop seating plans? Thank you for your assistance!

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites, Inc®, a wedding planning guide, and Recent Mother of the Groom –

The rehearsal dinner is supposed to be a relaxing, informal event hosted to feed those involved in the wedding party after the rehearsal. Doing so gives the couple the night off from cooking and allows them, their families and bridal party to kick back and enjoy the night before the big day.

placecards rehearsal dinner

As host, you are in charge of all of the planning and the bride really should be thankful for the extra effort you made to invite more guests. After all, you certainly were within your rights to host just the bridal party and could have had everyone back to your place for a home cooked meal (which is, in my opinion, really nice). But, you went over and above and seem to be right on track with your plans.

Ask your son to speak to his bride, letting her know how generous he thinks you’re being and that seating arrangements are not only unnecessary, but could be adverse to having that relaxed atmosphere that the rehearsal dinner is meant to provide. He should remind her that hosting the dinner is not your obligation, but your choice. They should both be grateful. I’m sure you’ll find a wonderful way to send this message to your son and his bride.

rehearsal dinner place setting

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

I agree. And, I think she has this party confused with the reception. A head table doesn’t have to be included and really shouldn’t be one for this party. But, there is another issue, which unfortunately it is too late to remedy. 60 is a lot of guests for a rehearsal dinner. It may appear to be a reception. It may have been much better to host only those in the bridal family, plus the immediate family.

But, it isn’t incorrect to invite out of town guests if you wish.

See Also