A wedding rehearsal dinner helps set the tone for your wedding. By planning a casual rehearsal dinner, you create a relatively stress-free environment where both families can socialize and get to know each other without the constraints of a formal dinner.
Traditionally, the groom’s parents host the rehearsal dinner, but this is not mandatory. There are several reasons why some couples opt to host and pay for the dinner themselves, namely, as a thank you to their parents or to assist parents who might not have the means to host the dinner. No matter who does the honors, the purpose is always the same: to show gratitude to everyone involved in the wedding for their participation and support.
The invitation list should always include the immediate families of the bride and groom, the officiant and guest, and members of the wedding party, along with their spouses or significant others. If you are having a large wedding, don’t feel pressured to invite everyone to the rehearsal dinner. If they aren’t involved in the rehearsal itself, it is not necessary to invite them to the dinner. However, many couples want to invite out-of-town relatives and close family friends to the rehearsal dinner, and that is perfectly acceptable as well.
What Should Happen During a Casual Dinner
When hosting a casual rehearsal dinner, there are still a few staples to include, such as toasts by parents and the engaged couple. Whoever hosts the dinner should offer a few words of welcome to guests to transition from the cocktail hour to dinner. The engaged couple traditionally offers a toast to their parents and the wedding party, as well as anyone else who has contributed to the planning process.
The bride often gives her bridesmaids and maid of honor their gifts, unless she has done so during another bridal event, such as a bridesmaid luncheon or a bachelorette party. There’s no need to follow a script when hosting a casual rehearsal dinner, so giving the toast after dinner is just as meaningful as the toast delivered before dinner is served.
Possible Dinner Venues
There are unlimited options for a casual rehearsal dinner, and guests will take advantage of the relaxed atmosphere to really mingle and get to know each other. Often, the two families don’t have much time before the wedding to meet, so providing an environment conducive to socializing helps ease any last minute jitters and prepares everyone for the wedding itself.
You don’t have to reserve tables in a restaurant; instead, you could take advantage of warm weather and have a backyard barbeque, or if it’s cooler, perhaps an indoor dinner featuring food from the honeymoon destination. If having the rehearsal dinner in your home or family’s home is not feasible, find a restaurant that has meaning, perhaps where he proposed or the site of the couple’s first date.
The couple’s personality could also be incorporated into the theme; for instance, if they are on a bowling team together, you could have your rehearsal party in a bowling alley. Follow this theme with invitations featuring bowling pins or ask everyone to wear their favorite bowling shirt.
Even for casual rehearsal dinners, it is still important to send out invitations so that all of your guests can plan accordingly. Including the time and location of the rehearsal, as well as the details for the rehearsal dinner itself, will ensure that all the important people in your life can attend. Out-of-town guests who are part of the wedding party will especially appreciate knowing all of the details in advance.
Even if the wedding will be a formal affair, contrasting it with a casual rehearsal dinner will let everyone relax, socialize and get in the mood to enjoy the wedding with new friends.