What to Expect at Your Rehearsal Dinner

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Think of it as a lead-in to the wedding, two families getting to know each other better, toasts from the best man and maid of honor, and stories from those who have known the couple all their lives. It’s your rehearsal dinner, held the night before the wedding.

A rehearsal dinner should never outshine the wedding. It should be a time for people to get comfortable within themselves, relax and breathe. It’s about sentiment.

For the couple’s parents, especially with younger couples, the rehearsal dinner is like the Last Supper. It can be bittersweet, but it should basically be an intimate time of celebration. It’s also a great opportunity to begin to unite the families of the bride and groom.

No matter the budget for the event, the most important thing is to make it a nice way for people to be together, whether it’s a formal event or a picnic at the park. Whatever the hosts are comfortable in doing and whatever they can afford.

Traditionally, the groom’s family pays for the rehearsal dinner, and it’s up to them to determine how large or small the event should be.

While it’s important to remember to include spouses or significant others of bridesmaids and groomsmen, decisions must be made about other guests. Along with your parents, of course, will the rehearsal dinner include grandparents, aunts and uncles, or godparents? Out-of-town family and friends are often invited to the rehearsal dinner, but should you invite everyone that traveled to your wedding or just the ones you’re closest to? Be sure to invite your officiant and his or her spouse or guest.

Consider inviting only those out-of-towners who are very close to the couple to the rehearsal dinner, while planning an activity for the out-of-town guests who aren’t invited to the rehearsal dinner. Let people know how to find other people at the wedding, anticipate their needs and suggest things to do if they’re not invited to the rehearsal dinner.

It isn’t necessary to plan entertainment for the rehearsal dinner.

Most likely, guests will stand up, offer their best wishes to the couple, and tell a brief story. It’s always fun to hear amusing bits and pieces of how your guests met your spouse-to-be or something they did when they were kids. It’s also a great way to begin forging relationships with people who are important to your new family.