The Rehearsal Dinner
The rehearsal dinner is a time for the people involved in the wedding to gather and enjoy some special, more intimate time together prior to the big day. The rehearsal dinner is the time for personal stories, reminiscing, and toasts. It is also a good opportunity for the bride and groom to express their gratitude to the family and wedding party.
Do I have to invite all of the out-of-town guests to my rehearsal dinner? If money and space permit, inviting the out-of-town guests is a nice gesture, but it is not required. Strictly speaking, the following people should be invited: immediate families of the couple (parents, siblings, and grandparents), the wedding party and their spouses/significant others (not dates) and their children (if they have traveled to attend the wedding), any children in the wedding party and their parents (depending on the time of the dinner), and the officiant and his spouse.
What's It For?
Do we need to have a rehearsal dinner? Technically you do not need to have a rehearsal dinner, but it is expected and customary. The atmosphere is typically more relaxed and intimate than the wedding, and therefore it is a perfect time for personal toasts from the bride and groom, wedding party, and parents. A rehearsal dinner need not be a dinner either, it can be a brunch or lunch, whatever coincides best with the rehearsal time.
Are there any traditions that should be followed at the dinner? There is nothing that is required at the rehearsal dinner. Many times the couple will present the attendants and their parents with thank you gifts. Often there is a round of toasts, beginning with the groom toasting his bride and future in-laws, and then the bride toasting her groom and future in-laws. Sometimes the couple's parents like to get in a few words as well. Feel free to have as many toasts as you'd like; if everyone wants to make a toast and the mood calls for it, let them!
Who pays for the rehearsal dinner? Traditionally the groom's parents have the honor and expense of hosting the rehearsal dinner. However, it is not a faux pas for the bride's parents to throw the dinner if for some reason the groom's parents cannot. The bride's parents, and even you and your fiancé, can pitch in for the dinner. Of course, the hosts should consult the bride and groom about locations and other details.
Do we need to send formal invitations for the rehearsal dinner? A phone call can suffice as an invitation, but sending a printed invitation is perfectly fine. The invitations need not be formal, and can simply be purchased at the local stationery store or printed on the computer.
My fiancé's mother thinks she doesn't need to pay for our guests' drinks at the rehearsal dinner. Is she right? The guests shouldn't be expected to pay for anything. Enough said.