Need to know how to throw the perfect rehearsal dinner? Here's some tips and fun ideas!
Rehearsal Dinner 101:
1. When? Normally this takes place the day before the wedding, after the rehearsal at the venue, but these days it's really up to you when to have it. Check with the bridal party and out of town family and friends to see when they are arriving to plan to hold it when they are in town.
2. Host? Traditionally it is the groom's family that hosts the rehearsal dinner, but again this is up to you and your families. Maybe an uncle would love to host it or a grandparent or even if you want to pay for it yourselves. Chat with both sides of the family to see who would be interested in hosting and plan out a budget.
3. Where? The options are pretty unlimited on where you can hold a rehearsal dinner these days. We will delve further into that later on. Mostly it should be a private (or semi private) space so your group is not interrupted.
4. Invited? Both sides of the families, bridal party plus spouses (and kids if you would like), your officiant if they are close with the family and any out of town guests.
5. What Happens? Mostly this is used as a get to know you dinner for the families, but a few formalities usually occur at the dinner. For one, there are toasts. The host of the event usually will toast the soon to be newlyweds. The couple themselves should also use this time to thank their bridal party and parents for their involvement. The rehearsal dinner is the time to hand out bridal party and parent's gifts. Make sure to use this time for any announcements you need to make to your bridal parties and families, including when to arrive for pictures the day of the wedding.
6. When to Invite? Make sure the people you're inviting to the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner have plenty of notice. Most people put a separate invite to the rehearsal dinner inside the wedding invitation for the people invited to both. Make sure you include two different RSVP cards, one for the wedding and one for the rehearsal dinner. You can also send them out separate from the wedding invitation.
Rehearsal Dinner Tips & Ideas:
1. Make sure the atmosphere, food and decor differ from the actual wedding. You don't want people to attend two of the same parties so switch it up for the rehearsal dinner. Using soft tones for the wedding? Go big, bold colors for the rehearsal dinner. Serving steak and chicken at the wedding? Go for pizza at the rehearsal. Make it uniquely it's own event.
2. Knock some of the toasts out at the rehearsal dinner. Have to many family and friends who are dying to toast you? Use the rehearsal dinner to give them their chance to speak. You don't want to get bogged down with too many toasts at the wedding, remember you have a timeline to keep, so this offers them a wonderful chance to say something in a much more intimate setting.
3. The rehearsal dinner is a great place for the two families and close friends to get to know each other. Use name tags with how each person knows or is related to the couple so people won't have to worry about remembering so many names and will have some great ice breakers. "You met Brandy in college? I would love to hear some stories about her back then!"
4. This is also a great chance for people to get to know your bridal party. A fun idea is having a "Meet the Maids/Men" display with photos and information on each person and how you know them. This is something you can also display at your wedding the next day for all your guests to see. It's a nice way of letting them know you appreciate them being apart of your special day.
5. Don't drink/party to hard at the rehearsal dinner, especially if your holding it the day/night before the wedding. You don't want everyone to be hungover and exhausted the day of the wedding. If possible, start the dinner early in the evening so it doesn't last super late into the night.
6. I know, I know it's called a rehearsal DINNER, but actually it can be whatever you want it to be. There are tons of fun alternatives to the normal sit down dinner of the past. Let's talk about a few:
Brunch: A great way to make sure people get a good night sleep and don't over indulge the day before the wedding. You can have fun stations like a make your own omelet bar or fun waffle toppings. Also popular are mimosa bars with different flavored juices and fruits to add to your champagne.
Cocktails & Desserts: Don't want to hold a whole other dinner? Host a cocktails and dessert party instead. Put together an assortment of your favorite pies or have an ice cream sundae bar. Just make sure people know to eat dinner on their own beforehand.
Backyard or Beach BBQ: Go ultra casual and hold the dinner in a family friends backyard or your favorite beach. Bring games and coolers full of drinks and snacks and hang out in the sun. Dessert time fun? Roast marshmallows and make smores!
Game Day: Are you a sports loving couple? Are your family and friends competitive? A game day rehearsal party may be the perfect option for you. Pick teams, think of a number of sports/games (flag football, croquet, corn hole, kick-ball etc) and have prizes for the winning teams. Wanna kick it up a notch? Have matching t-shirts made ("bride's team", "groom's team" etc).
Just like your wedding, your rehearsal dinner should be an expression of you as a couple. More importantly, it should be a day of fun and love for you and your families and friends!