So, what is the rehearsal dinner?
It is basically, the dinner you have right after your rehearsal. Easy right?
Generally, (not all the time), the rehearsal dinner is paid and hosted by the Groom's parents. With today's Brides & Grooms marrying later, often they pay for it. Ultimately, it isn't important who pays for it, however, there are some important things to remember so you don't offend or leave anyone out.
First, this dinner DOES NOT need to be formal! It can be pizza at someone's house, lasagna made by mom, or catered by a company that drops off. Don't think that t has to be very fancy, at a banquet hall or a swanky restaurant. It doesn't. It literally needs to feed the people who were at the rehearsal dinner. It is also the last time you get to be with each other before the formality of the next day. It should be as early as possible so people can get a good night's sleep and keep the alcohol to a minimum.
Second, who do you invite? This tends to be the most contested question when discussed among the families. So here is your answer:
- Immediate family (Grandparents, parents, siblings and their families)
- Anyone involved in the ceremony (Bridal Party, ushers, readers, singers, pastor, Flower Girl & Ring Bearer). The only exception to this is if they are paid vendors such as musicians, videographer, photographer if they are there. It is still nice to always invite the Pastor & spouse if there is one.
- Any family or friends who may have traveled a very long distance or you haven't seen them in years. It is a nice gesture to invite them as well. They may not come, but invite them still. Again, this is optional.
Third, do you need to provide alcohol? Absolutely not. Just like at your wedding, you are under no obligation to provide alcohol to your guests. Besides, you do not want to be drinking too much the night before.
Fourth, it is generally when you present gifts to your Bridal Party. Since there are fewer people at this dinner, it makes it easier to take this opportunity to thank them graciously for their help and participation.
The rehearsal dinner should not go late into the night. The next day is very long & stressful and you want to make sure you get a good night's rest. There will always be last-minute details to take care of that night and you don't want to feel rushed. This dinner is the last chance you have to spend with your closest family & friends before the craziness of your wedding day. Don't over-think it and certainly don't over-do it. This is when the official wedding festivities start. Make it fun for everyone!