What Is a Wedding Rehearsal Dinner?

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A rehearsal dinner follows the wedding ceremony rehearsal, which is usually held the day before the main event. Learn the fundamentals of wedding rehearsal dinners, such as the functions they serve and the etiquette that surrounds them.

 

What Is a Rehearsal Dinner?

A rehearsal dinner is a pre-wedding event that is typically held the night before the wedding. The rehearsal allows you to run through the ceremony and iron out any last-minute details before the wedding, while the dinner that follows allows you to spend time with your loved ones. Instead of dinner, modern couples may choose a rehearsal breakfast or brunch.

 

What Happens at a Rehearsal Dinner?

While each couple should tailor their event to their budget and personal preferences, common rehearsal dinner elements include:

A meal: Keep in mind that, depending on your budget and preferences, a rehearsal dinner can be replaced by a rehearsal breakfast, brunch, or cocktail hour. Couples usually keep formality levels in line with the overall tone of the wedding.

Ceremony rehearsal: Everyone involved in the ceremony will gather at the wedding venue before the meal or refreshments to practice how to walk in, where to stand, and exit cues. The wedding planner, officiant, or a close family member is often the one who walks everyone through the wedding ceremony outline.

Gift-giving: Some couples use the rehearsal dinner to thank their bridesmaids, groomsmen, and other members of the wedding party with a small gift.

Toasts: The host of the rehearsal dinner welcomes all guests and thanks them for coming before opening the microphone to others for toasts or short wedding speeches.

 

Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette

When planning your perfect rehearsal dinner, keep the following guidelines in mind to ensure a smooth start to your wedding weekend:

Who is responsible for the rehearsal dinner: Traditionally, the groom's family hosts the rehearsal dinner and pays for it. However, it is becoming more common for both families to share the costs, or even for the happy couple to pay for it themselves.

Who is invited to the rehearsal dinner: Everyone who will be involved in the ceremony rehearsal should be invited, including all members of the bridal party, the officiant, flower girl, ring bearer, and any ushers or readers. Immediate family members, close extended family members, close friends, and out-of-town guests should all be invited. Consider plus-ones for those who have significant others.

What to wear to a rehearsal dinner: A more formal wedding usually means a more formal rehearsal dinner, but you can tell your guests to wear whatever they want. Couples often dress in clothes that reflect the wedding theme so that the wedding and rehearsal dinner feel like one event.

 

How to Plan a Rehearsal Dinner

Here are some important steps to take when planning your perfect wedding rehearsal dinner:

Make a guest list. Begin by making a guest list for your rehearsal dinner, as the number of attendees will determine other important details such as the rehearsal dinner venue. Although a formal rehearsal dinner invitation isn't required, you should give your guests plenty of notice once you've decided on a time and location.

Select a location. The rehearsal dinner can be held at the wedding or reception venue, but this is not always possible. If you choose a different venue, the number of guests it can accommodate, its proximity to the wedding venue, and the type of food you want to serve should be your primary considerations.

Plan your menu. This procedure is dependent on whether or not your venue provides food. Allow plenty of time before the event to sample dishes if you intend to hire a caterer.

Secure gifts and write thank-you notes. At the rehearsal dinner, couples frequently give their wedding party members gifts”often items to wear during the ceremony, such as ties, cufflinks, hair accessories, or jewelry.

Make a toast or give a thank-you speech. Prepare a brief welcome speech or toast to express your gratitude to your guests.

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