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Rehearsal Dinner Guidelines

Officiants/ministers prefer to have a brief rehearsal of the wedding service with the bride and groom, their parents, the wedding party and any readers/singers. They will want to give everyone their cues for the next day.

The wedding rehearsal is followed by a dinner for members of the wedding party. The purpose of the rehearsal dinner is to allow both families and your special friends to meet one another, socialize and have fun! It is a lovely way to begin your wedding festivities. Consider an icebreaker game to encourage mingling and establish acquaintances.

The rehearsal dinner is usually held the night before the wedding. However, some prefer to have the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner two days before the wedding to allow a day of rest from the stress of having two busy days in a row. This may not work if guests who are in the wedding party do not arrive in time.

The grooms parents traditionally are responsible for the financial obligation of the rehearsal dinner, however any other close relative or friend may do the honor.

Invitations may be sent two weeks before the wedding; or a simple phone call informing the guests of the time, location, and perhaps formality of dress. Usually they are informal affairs, however a classy restaurant can be a welcome counterpoint to a formal dinner.

All attendants, the bride and her fiancé's immediate families, the officiate/minister and spouse, as well as any out-of-town guests are included in the guest list. Family and friends of the bride or the host may also be invited. It is generally acceptable to invite the spouse or significant other of each attendant.

The rehearsal dinner is usually held in a private home or a restaurant and is as formal or informal as the host would like. Special instrumental music will make this event even more elegant. Consider hiring a pianist, harpist, or a guitar duo.

From a pool side barbecue to a formal sit-down affair, there are no hard and fast rules for the rehearsal dinner. While the excitement and stress of the big day may loom before you, this event lets you enjoy quality time with loved ones.

Consider using place cards to ease seating arrangements. Decorate the dining area with flowers and candles.

If the attendants gifts have not already been passed out, now is the time to do so. An early evening is suggested as the events of the following day will be exhausting. The bride and her attendants will appreciate their beauty sleep.

The toasts (with a few roasts thrown in) at the rehearsal dinner are given by the host of the event (usually the groom's father) first. Next would be the bride's father, then the best man offers a toast to the bride and groom.

The bride & groom may also toast at the end of the others. The groom with a toast to his bride and her parents and the bride with a toast to her groom and his family. This is an opportunity for them to thank everybody for support, etc. during the engagement.

Not everybody must toast, but this is a perfect time to get the more personal stories and feelings out to the couple in a more intimate atmosphere.

Quick recap. . .

  • The rehearsal dinner is usually hosted by the groom's parents
  • The bride and groom's parents, step-parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, close friends, officiants, readers, out-of-town guests, the entire wedding entourage and their spouses/live-in-relationships/fiances should be in attendance.
  • The rehearsal dinner immediately follows the rehearsal of the ceremony, usually the night before the wedding
  • The party can be as formal or informal as you wish
  • The party can be hosted at someone's residence or at a restaurant
  • The bride and groom usually offer a toast to their family and friends for their love and support.
  • Gifts for the wedding attendants are usually handed out at this time
  • Consider using place cards to ease seating arrangements
  • Consider an icebreaker game to encourage mingling and establish acquaintances
  • Special instrumental music will make this event even more elegant
  • Select a location for the rehearsal dinner "close" to the actual rehearsal site
  • The toasts will take place during the dinner. Between courses is a perfect spot for the toasts.

Sample wording for rehearsal dinner invitations. . .

Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Peoples *
request the pleasure of your company
at the Rehearsal Dinner in honor of
Larry and Sandy
on Thursday, the eight of June
at six o'clock in the evening
at Z'Tajas Restaurant
4783 West 78th Avenue
Scottsdale, Arizona

*  Name of the groom's parents or whomever is hosting the dinner.

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