Rehearsal dinners are a fun wedding tradition that typically take place the night before a couple walks down the aisle. The immediate families of the bride and groom as well as any additional members of the wedding party are on hand for the rehearsal dinner, which often follows a walk-through of the wedding ceremony.
The rehearsal dinner is usually a laid-back affair, but there are some things couples must navigate as they sit down to their last dinner together before becoming husband and wife.
It is customary to invite anyone participating in the wedding, including bridesmaids, groomsmen, ushers, flower girls, and ring bearers, to the rehearsal dinner. In addition to those in the wedding, family members, such as parents of both the bride and groom and their respective siblings who are not in the wedding, also are invited to traditional rehearsal dinners.
If your rehearsal dinner will take place at a restaurant, then try to find a restaurant that can cater to various tastes. Rehearsal dinner parties tend to be large, and within your party you may have guests who are vegetarian or on gluten-free diets or those who need to avoid certain foods. The more versatile the menu, the more capable an establishment is likely to be with regard to meeting the various needs of your party.
While many rehearsal dinners are held at restaurants, it's not unheard of to host a dinner party at home or at the home of the bride's or groom's parents. If you plan to go this route, just be sure to provide a variety of food so no one goes home hungry.
If you are hosting a rehearsal dinner at a restaurant, booking a reservation should be near the top of your priority list once you have chosen a date for the wedding. It's not always easy to find restaurants that can accommodate especially large parties, nor is it easy to find restaurants that can accommodate the unique diets of potential party guests. So try to book a reservation three to six months in advance of the dinner. If you are getting married during an especially popular month to tie the knot, such as June or October, try to make the reservation even earlier, as the longer you wait the more likely other couples will have booked the restaurant for their rehearsal dinners. Starting early also gives you more time to find the ideal restaurant to host the dinner.
Many wedding traditions have fallen by the wayside over the last several decades, and that includes who is picking up the tab. In the past, the brides' parents paid for the wedding while the grooms' parents were expected to pick up the tab for the rehearsal dinner. But many couples now pay for their own weddings, and those that are footing the bill should include the rehearsal dinner in their wedding budgets. If parents offer to pay or split the tab, you can take them up on their generous offer. But it is still to a couple's advantage to expect to pay for their rehearsal dinners.
Rehearsal dinners are an enjoyable tradition that affords couples the chance to sit down with their closest friends and family members and enjoy a great meal together. Planning ahead can make the dinner even more enjoyable.