Let's face it, unless you've actually been a part of a wedding, the perspective is much different than that of a guest. Sure, you get the gist of things, but do you know exactly what goes on behind the scenes? Weddings may look seamless, even effortless to pull off, but that's because every detail of the day has been polished and refined for months. There's even a practice run the night before. But rehearsal dinners aren't solely about practicing; it's your chance to greet your wedding party, give everyone a taste of what they can expect for the rest of the weekend, and simply celebrating your love with your closest friends and family. What really happens at rehearsal dinners? Is there a strict schedule you're supposed to follow? How will you know what to do at the real wedding if you are stumped on the rehearsal? Here's a short segment on rehearsal dinner etiquette to answer all of your questions.
What is the purpose?
The night of your wedding, you'll likely be so busy mingling with everyone in attendance that you won't have time for quality visiting with anyone. Take the time at your rehearsal dinner to relax and connect with your families. But before the fun can start, you'll need to spend about 45 minutes at your wedding venue practicing everyone's roles for the next day. This is also a good time to remind everyone of the schedule and what time they should arrive the next day.
Who is supposed to host? And pay?
Traditionally, the groom's family is in charge of the rehearsal dinner, but that's flexible. You, as the couple, could host the dinner or let another family member if they offer. Whoever takes responsibility for the rehearsal, they just need to give themselves enough time to scout venues in order to book one four to six months in advance.
Who gets invited?
According to etiquette, only the people actually required for your wedding rehearsal must be invited (plus their spouses or dates), along with any parents of child attendants. You should also invite your officiant. If your budget allows, you could also invite other close family, friends, or out-of-town guests if you choose.
Where should it take place?
Ideally, you can have your wedding rehearsal at your venue so there is no confusion on placement during the actual wedding. As for the dinner, it can be wherever you choose. The most obvious choice is at a restaurant, so that nobody has to worry about cooking or cleaning up. You could even choose to go simple and casual with hors d'oeuvres at a beach, appetizers at a bar, or a backyard barbecue. Just make sure to specify on your invites so guests know what to expect and how to dress.
This event is also the perfect time for gift exchanges. You may hand out gifts to your wedding party, spouse, and parents while waiting on food to arrive. Even if you choose to skip gifts or do them privately, make sure to take the time to thank everyone there for their support. Traditionally, toasts are made after dessert by the groom's parents and the groom, but a toast can be made by anyone that wishes to. Lastly, now is the chance to remind everyone one last time of the details of the next day. Make sure everyone knows their duties and arrival times, and anything they're supposed to bring. Try not to party too hard at your rehearsal, you'll need a good night's sleep.