There are a lot of etiquette rules to consider when planning a wedding, and a rehearsal dinner certainly has it’s share of them. Who do you invite? What do you serve? Do you send formal rehearsal dinner invitations?
While I always say that the rules should go out the window if they just don’t suit your big day, there are some guidelines to help make deciding which rules to keep (or throw out) a little easier.
Rehearsal Dinner 101:
Who to invite:
There are a few musts and a couple shoulds to this answer. You must invite your immediate family and wedding party. It is also good etiquette to invite your out of town guests. However, if your budget is tight or your rehearsal dinner goals are a small and intimate, it is not necessary to invite all your out of town guests. It is also a good gesture to invite any people who have helped you a lot with your planning, even if they aren’t in the wedding party proper.
Traditionally, the rehearsal dinner is hosted by the groom’s parents. In many weddings, this cost is covered by the couple themselves, the bride’s parents or some special relatives who step up to the plate and volunteer. It’s also important to let the hosts have big say in who comes to the rehearsal dinner, of course within reason. The hosts are typically the ones who pay for the rehearsal, though the costs are sometimes split between different parties.
When it happens:
The rehearsal dinner is typically held the night before the wedding. It typically follows the actual rehearsal. However, depending on the location of your wedding party/guests, this event could even take place a few days before or as a breakfast the morning of your actual ceremony.
Do you send rehearsal dinner invitations?
Even for the non-formal rehearsal dinner, paper invitations are typically sent. If your rehearsal is intimate (close family and wedding party), invitations could be word-of-mouth. However, it’s important to keep in mind that your wedding party and guests have a lot of details to keep up with from the events surrounding your wedding, so invitations can be a great way for people to keep things straight. If out of town guests or others outside of your close circle are invited, paper invitations are definitely the way to go.
Does it have to be dinner?
When it comes to this part of a rehearsal dinner, truly anything goes. Want a sit-down, five-course meal? Great (as long as you’ve got the money to back it)! Want a cookout in someone’s back yard? Awesome. Want to serve the meal out of a food truck? Done. It’s really your total discretion here. Have the party that you want to have, even if it doesn’t match your actual wedding reception feel. Our best advice? Keep it as simple as possible so that’s just one less detail for you to keep track of. Plus, it’s the day before (most likely) your big day! It’s time to RELAX at this point!