Reinventing the Rehearsal Dinner

I get asked questions about the etiquette of rehearsal dinners quite often. “Who pays for the rehearsal dinner?”  “Who am I supposed to invite to the rehearsal dinner?”  “Do I have to invite all of my out of town guests to the rehearsal dinner?” These are great questions because in today’s society so many variations on the traditional rehearsal dinner are now commonplace. Here are my answers to the three most often asked rehearsal dinner questions I receive.

Who pays for the rehearsal dinner:  Traditionally, the parents of the Groom pay for the Rehearsal Dinner.  However, because many couples are more financially independent of their parents, it is not uncommon for the Bride and Groom to either split the costs with the Groom’s parents or pay for the dinner in full.  This is a conversation that should be had between the Groom and his parents shortly after the date for the wedding is set.   I encourage all couples to be mindful of whatever budget is set forth for the rehearsal dinner and choose wisely when deciding on the style and guest list for the event.

Who do we have to invite to the rehearsal dinner:The guest list for the rehearsal dinner should include: The Bride and Groom,  Parents and Step-parents of the Bride and Groom, Grandparents of the Bride and Groom, All Bridesmaids and Groomsmen as well as Ushers and Readers as well as their partners, and the parents of any children standing in the wedding.  If any member of the wedding party is single, you are not obligated to include a “guest” on their invitation.  If the rehearsal dinner will be a formal affair, you are not obligated to invite the children standing in the wedding.

It can get a bit more complicated when you are having a destination wedding and many of your guests have travelled from other cities and states to attend the wedding. However, the rule still applied.  You are NOT obligated to invite all out of town guests to attend a post rehearsal dinner.  It’s not a faux pas to have a large party where all out of town guest are invited, I just want you to understand that under no circumstances are you obligated to host a large dinner for all of your out of town guests. If you are not inclined to host a dinner for all of your out of town guest, why not just have everyone meet somewhere for a cocktail or a dessert after the rehearsal dinner.  Slip a note into the welcome bags of all out of town guest letting them know where and what time everyone should meet to have a nightcap or a dessert gathering.  It is very cost effective and still gives your guests a chance to say hello and visit with everyone before the wedding day.

Does a rehearsal dinner have to be a formal, seated dinner: The answer is No.  A rehearsal dinner can be as formal or informal as you like.  Many couples opt to have a buffet style dinner at their home or the home of a relative.  Others take it to the rooftop and do a great outdoor casual affair. The point is to have a celebration that suits your style.  Formal or informal, grand or small, it’s all a matter of what personal preference and what fits your budget and your style.  

For some interesting ideas on options and decor for rehearsal dinners see my “Rehearsal Dinners” pinterest board at Old.New.Blue on Pinterest.

Remember, it’s a celebration!  Less stress-More Fun!  Here’s to a great evening!