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Your Rehearsal Dinner

After you have your wedding rehearsal most folks will hop over to a restaurant nearby for a rehearsal dinner.
The rehearsal dinner is a great time for everyone in the wedding party to get to know one another. In most cases this is one of the few times the wedding party together with your families sit down together and get to know one another better.

Make sure before the evening is over that everyone has a copy of their time line for the next day too. Of course that should have all been handled at the rehearsal, this dinner is about relaxing with those closest to you...just have additional copies available at the end of the evening!

Your rehearsal dinner is not mandatory of course, but believe me, it's a very nice way to be able thank these close family and friends for being part of your ceremony. You may not get a chance to thank them again until after your honeymoon!

Traditionally Speaking
Since the brides parents are paying for the wedding, the grooms parents host the rehearsal dinner. It's the time for the grooms family to welcome the bride and her family into theirs.

The Budget
Sometimes the traditions don't mesh with the reality. These days the couple may pay or the parents may split the costs. Don't let 'tradition' mess with your pocket book or your family dynamic,
a good sit down with all family members involved is advised.

The grooms father usually gives the welcome speech, often with his wife and toasts the bride and groom followed by the best man. After dinner the bride and groom should toast to their wedding party and give their gifts. Any other toasts may be given over dessert but before too many drinks are consumed. Depending on the formality of your restaurant you'll want to be aware that wait staff generally will not serve wile toasts are being given, out of respect. Wait to be served, then let the toasting being, or continue!

Giving your gifts.
This is also one of the best times for the bride and groom to present gifts to their wedding party and often the parents as well. After finishing dinner and the plates are cleared, the bride and groom can toast to the parents and wedding party followed by giving tokens of your appreciation.

Who to Invite?
Everyone in the wedding party plus the close family members like grandmothers who will be formally seated. It's nice but not mandatory to invite the spouses/significant others of the bridesmaids and groomsmen. I do not feel the obligation to tell you it's obligatory to invite out of town guests. Simply, if they are in the wedding party, they are invited. Don't forget your officiant plus his or her guest!

Where to have the dinner?
A restaurant is the obvious choice, no cooking, no cleaning, just celebrating over a great meal. Many times your ceremony venue will have a room available for a rehearsal dinner, ask! Another possibility is to have an informal yet intimate dinner as the host/hostesses home.
Skipping a more formal dinner and having an informal get together is just fine too. Having a BBQ or having a dessert get together after the rehearsal are just as acceptable.

The Food!
Are you focused on food? Should it complement what you are serving the next night at your reception? Not at all! You can feel free to explore what your local resultants have to offer. Maybe the grooms mother will decide to host the affair and cook up some family favorites? There are not limits, boundaries or etiquette on food type (just allergy considerations)!

How formal?
This is up to you and those hosting the dinner. If you are having your dinner in a nice four or five diamond restaurant, send out invitations with a word about with the formality included. The host and hostess should look the part. The dinner is another that is for the bride and groom, so dress up in a petty flirty cocktail dress. The groom, a nice button down shirt, tie and slacks is always acceptable no matter the location.

Being practical with timing, you'll want to mull these over.
  • A rehearsal dinner is just that, a dinner at dinner time. Think about the feasibility of that.
  • When does your rehearsal begin? Allow an hour for the rehearsal, then include travel time to the dinner.
  • Are you having your rehearsal on a weekday evening? Will all of your attendance be able to attend with work schedule and folks coming in from out of town try to plan a rehearsal dinner that can accommodate these issues.
  • If your rehearsal starts at 6pm, you may want to have a reseal celebration with deserts instead!
  • Are you having a special table setting or flowers brought in? Make sure the folks who are helping on that end are not also part of the wedding party (they will be at the rehearsal with you), ask your dinner venue for advice and we bet they'll help!
  • The evening should end early so everyone can get the rest they need for the big day.
  • The Bachelor and bachelorette party should never ever happen this night. Think abut it.

The Links

InStyleWeddings - from their planning gallery comes advice for the dinner.

iVillage - Why be stuffy or standard? The folks over at the Knot shared this advice for creative wedding rehearsal dinner celebrations!

Brides.Com has great information about your rehearsal dinner:
The Knot
Wedding Channel
Martha Stewart Weddings

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