Many couples find their wedding rehearsal dinners to be relaxing respites from the whirlwind of wedding planning. Such dinners enable the happy couple to slow down and enjoy themselves in a relatively casual gathering with their closest friends and family members.
Rehearsal dinners typically take place in the night or two before the wedding. The couple, members of their wedding party, the parents of the bride and groom and others involved in the wedding typically attend this dinner. The couple generally takes the time at the dinner to thank everyone for their contributions to the wedding and to offer some small gifts of appreciation. No rules govern rehearsal dinners, so couples have the freedom to plan the dinners as they see fit.
Rehearsal dinners often come immediately after the ceremony rehearsal, when the wedding party and the officiant go over the timing and details of the wedding. Make arrangements with the ceremony site and officiant prior to making dinner reservations.
Parents of the groom traditionally host the rehearsal dinner, so they will be integral in planning the event. That means couples should keep an open and gracious mind. Remember, the rehearsal dinner doesn't have to be a lavish affair, and it can be customized to any budget or preference.
Some couples feel that hosting rehearsal dinners in casual settings can make the dinner more comfortable for members of the wedding, who can use the dinner as an opportunity to mingle and get to know one another before the wedding. This will help to tame nerves and enable the wedding party to loosen up and enjoy themselves even more. Some people may be more inclined to socialize and have fun when they're not worried about putting on airs.
Restaurants that have special meaning to the couple often make for great places to hold rehearsal dinners. The bride and groom can suggest their ideas, but ultimately it is the person handling the bill who has the final say. Couples who want greater control over the rehearsal dinner festivities can suggest hosting it themselves.
Despite its name, the rehearsal dinner doesn't actually have to be a dinner, as couples can opt for meals at a different time of the day, like brunch or lunch. An earlier occasion gives guests plenty of time to get home and rest up for the festivities of the wedding to come.
Toasts are expected at the rehearsal dinner, but they tend to be spontaneous, off-the-cuff remarks. A couple with a good sense of humor might not mind being roasted at their rehearsal dinners. The bride and groom should expect to say a few words of thanks to all in attendance, but remarks need not be too formal.
Rehearsal dinners may even feature a little entertainment. Tech-savvy parents may put together a presentation with videos or photographs that chronicles the couple's lives separately and their life together.