Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette

Learn About Proper Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette Today

Are you planning your rehearsal dinner but need to know proper rehearsal dinner etiquette first? Learn more today about traditional rules about the rehearsal dinner and how to plan a dinner that will make everyone happy.





Of course it is important to keep in mind the traditional etiquette rules when planning the rehearsal dinner, it is also important to note that your potential guests all have feelings. Even if you following traditional etiquette to a tee, that does not mean people excluded will not feel hurt. You need to use your best judgment on whom to invite to the dinner.

Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette - Who Pays

Traditionally the groom's parents pay for the rehearsal dinner. Most of the weddings events are traditionally covered by the parents of the bride and this are an event where the parents of the groom can show that they are actively involved in the wedding and know who to entertain just as well.

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Just because one side is paying does not mean that that side should decide everything. For instance, the groom's parents should not exclude members of the bride's family or invite extra guests on their side to this meal if the same courtesy is not extended to additional members on the bride's side of the family.


This also means that bride's family cannot just plan the meal to their liking, book the place, invite the guests and expect the groom's family to comply and pay. In reality everyone should work together to create the perfect party which will make every happy when you are trying to stick to proper etiquette.

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Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette - Who to Invite

Traditionally you want to invite everyone to the rehearsal dinner that will be at the final wedding rehearsal. That would include the wedding party, the minister or person marrying you, any other vendors there (such as bridal consultants), and children involved such as the ring bearer, the flower girl, ushers and their parents or guardians.


If you also have out of town guests coming into the wedding, you may want to extend invitations to them as well. Many times invitations will be also extended to immediate family members such as parents, grandparents, godparents and siblings. If this is done, it should be done on both sides of the wedding.

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Some couples (or the parents who are throwing the party) want to extend invitations to everyone or a much larger list. Many times this is not financially possible. If you want to do this you can, but it does not strictly fall under rehearsal dinner etiquette rules. One way to get around not being able to afford such a large gathering is to have two parties.


First you can choose to have the smaller intimate gathering at a traditional rehearsal dinner. Then, you can have a later gathering where either everyone who is invited to the wedding or just a larger list of who is invited to the wedding is invited. The second party can be at someone's house or a bar for drinks. Something that is much more cost efficient, but which will allow the couple to have a pre wedding celebration with everyone.

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Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette - When To Start Your Planning

The planning can start as soon as you are ready to do so, but the sooner the better. Since you will need to book a place for this event, you would probably want to plan it at least 6 months prior to the actually event. The planning will consist of booking a place, deciding who will pay (if someone other than the grooms parents), coming up with a guest list, sending invitations, choosing a menu and dessert menu as well as determining a time (which means knowing when the wedding rehearsal will end and how long the commute between locations will take).

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Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette - When To Send Out Invitations

Invitations should be sent out after wedding invitations are sent (and not together as an insert) usually at least 4 - 6 weeks before the event. With this being said the actual rehearsal dinner invitations should be picked out and purchased 10 - 12 weeks before the event so you have them and are ready to go when it is time to send out the invitations.

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Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette - Choosing The Menu

When you are planning the perfect rehearsal dinner you need the perfect menu. Now etiquette will tell you that you do not want to give the guests the same or similar menu at the dinner as they will have the following night at the wedding. So for instance, if you are serving steak and chicken at the wedding you may want to serve fish or pork at the rehearsal dinner. You could also choose the place you are having it based on specific cuisine they serve (Italian, French, Greek American, etc.).

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Do not forget the dessert! Cake is probably not the best option, as again cake is a main centerpiece for the wedding. You might want to design a dessert menu that includes many different options such as quick desserts such as cookies, brownies and cupcakes as well as larger desserts such a tortes, cobblers and pies.

Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette - Gifts

Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette does not require anyone to bring gifts to the bride and groom to be at this get together. With that said, sometimes it does happen. If one of more guests brings gifts with them, just accept them graciously.

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The party planner may also receive gifts from the guests, again this is not an unwritten rule and it would be a nice gesture, nothing else. So if some guests give the party planner gifts it does not mean that all guests should.


However, this is a great opportunity for the bride and grooms to be to give gifts to their parents or members of the wedding party. If they do choose to go this, it is a nice gesture and being the night before the wedding, it is the perfect time to show their gratitude for all everyone has done to help create the perfect wedding day.

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