Wedding Etiquette of Rehearsal Dinner
Who Pays for the Dinner?
As more and more couples decide to either pay for their own wedding expenses or to share them amongst their respective families, the part of rehearsal dinner wedding etiquette that governs who pays is now less obvious. In the past, tradition dictated that the groom’s parents paid, as a way of showing that the groom’s mother—as well as the bride’s—was knowledgeable about entertaining. But, in this new era, it is left to the couple to make the final decision. And whoever pays gets to choose the particulars of the dinner.
Who Gets an Wedding Invitation?
Traditionally, groomsmen, bridesmaids, flower girls, ushers, ring bearers, the officiant, and other close friends and family members of the groom and the bride were invited to the dinner. But preferences of religion or culture may hold sway, also. When planning rehearsal dinner invitation lists, Jewish celebrants typically invite all of those who are invited to the wedding ceremony; many of their guests have flown from other locales and have gotten wedding gifts, and so the feeling is they deserve invitations to both (not that a wedding gift is necessarily “quid pro quo” for an invitation).
It’s actually up to you to invite whoever you would like; you could even hold two separate events if that’s your preference. Although two separate occasions may possibly offend some of the invitees, more couples are now choosing this course of action so that they may congregate with their “inner circle” beforehand, and more distant, or out-of-town, guests later. Your budget may ultimately be the deciding factor—can you afford to host everyone at the rehearsal dinner? If not, consider phrasing the invitation to the second group differently, suggesting that they come to a “rehearsal party”; they will probably never realize the difference, especially if both events are catered.
How Far in Advance Should You Plan the Dinner?
Standard rehearsal dinner etiquette says three to six months’ advance planning is sufficient, but sooner is always better than later. By the time the dinner is three months away, you should have a good idea of the number of wedding guests and can menu-plan, so as not to conflict with the big day itself. If the ceremony is on Saturday, consider holding the dinner Thursday night. That way, you can cut costs and allow for “recovery time” from the dinner prior to the wedding itself.
What’s a Good Location for the Rehearsal Dinner?
There is no shortage of possible options, but in planning rehearsal dinner locations, many people like to stick with a familiar restaurant they are particularly fond of. An organizer could handle this detail, but bear in mind that choosing a location close to the ceremony site for the rehearsal will make it convenient for your guests. And don’t forget to reserve an extra room if your wedding guests are going to be singing karaoke or showing scandalous baby pictures!