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What's Up Weddings

The Role of the Rehearsal Dinner

Dec 07, 2012 10:55PM ● By Anonymous
 So many things come together on the day of your wedding that it's important to practice the key parts of the day. You'll sooth your nerves by running through each step of the ceremony, meeting with your officiant one more time, and making sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to where they need to be and what they need to do. And after you've gone through a dry run, you've exhaled a few times, and you've pretended to say "I do," what else is there to do before the big day? Well, a girl's got to eat!

Enter the rehearsal dinner, a great way to let your hair down, relax, and celebrate the end of planning, knowing that everything and everyone are in place for your big day. Traditionally hosted (read: paid for) by the groom's family, it can also be a time for the mother of the groom to show off her family's party-planning skills, too. (Though these days, like other wedding-related traditions, who pays for what is never set in stone.)

Whom to Invite

Given that the rehearsal dinner immediately follows the rehearsal, you'll want to invite everyone involved in the ceremony, plus spouses. This typically means the immediate families of the bride and groom; the officiant and his or her spouse (if they're close to your family—officiants hired only for the wedding with no other relationship need not be invited); bridesmaids and groomsmen, and their plus-ones; and the flower girl(s) and ringer bearer(s), and their parents. In some cases, the bride and groom may choose to invite their grandparents, especially if they've come in from out of town, however, the invitation is thoughtful, not required.

If you have the budget and the desire, you may consider inviting out-of-town guests as well. The idea behind extending an invite to them is that it keeps them from being stranded in their hotel rooms, and it makes you a good hostess. However, while this is a nice gesture, it's certainly not necessary. For many brides and grooms, to invite all out-of-town guests would be like throwing a pre-wedding reception, and a rehearsal dinner is not a wedding reception.

Getting Creative

As the excitement surrounding nuptials can snowball, as it tends to do, it's tempting to throw fancy dinners and invite the majority of your guest list to the rehearsal dinner. To restore your sanity, as well as your budget and the relaxing atmosphere that you will so desire the night before your wedding, consider thinking outside the box for your rehearsal dinner.

• Maryland Love. Show off your love of Bay County by hosting a full blown crab feast (but consider making your manicure appointment for the next morning!). Rent a neighborhood pavilion, or line up tables in your backyard and cover them with brown paper, tins of old bay and ramekins of vinegar. If your guest list consists of out-of-towners, designate someone to give a fun, crab crackin' demonstration before the picking commences.

• Backyard Fun. You could set a similar tone, minus brown paper plus a smoking grill, with a backyard barbecue. Offer grilled chicken, pulled pork, cornbread, macaroni salad, and coleslaw, and invite friends to have fun with corn hole, horseshoes, or any of your favorite lawn games.

• Casual Creativity. If you're worried about weather, take it inside with any number of other fun activities. Are you an avid bowler? Host your party at the bowling alley, birthday style. If you're a winter bride, invite friends and family to gather at a local park for ice skating, and make arrangements for simple catering or even pizza delivery. (Warning: this might not be the best idea for less graceful brides, or even ice skating amateurs. Nothing says "Oops, I had too much fun at my rehearsal dinner" like a bride waltzing down the aisle on crutches.)

• Traditional Celebration. On the flip side, if your wedding reception itself is casual, you might prefer a more traditional, upscale dinner. A number of local restaurants or clubs can put together a customized menu for you and your guests to celebrate in style. It's all about what will make you and your groom the most relaxed and happy, and what kind of evening you'll both want to look back on.

It's About Fun and Relaxation

The last thing you will want to feel literally hours before walking down the aisle is required. Required to entertain and welcome every aunt, cousin, and family friend you invited to the wedding, required to stand with your shoulders straight, and required to keep your heels on. Stick to a more conservative rehearsal dinner guest list, while keeping it polite, and opt for a more casual, fun, intimate affair in which you can kick off your shoes and breathe deeply. It's so easy to get hung up on the details, but your rehearsal dinner should be the least of your worries. Keep it simple, and remember that the whole point of the rehearsal dinner is to help you and your husband to feel relaxed and ready for the big day.