Rehearsal Dinner Questions Answered

A rehearsal dinner is usually a fun and low key get together held after the wedding rehearsal.  The wedding rehearsal is usually held the afternoon or evening before the wedding.  Here are some basic guidelines and some questions answered about this pre-wedding event.

Who hosts the rehearsal dinner?

Traditionally, the groom’s parents will host this pre-wedding get together.  However, depending on who has paid for other parts of the wedding festivities, the couple (or even the bride’s parents) may host it as well.

Do I need to send separate invitations to the rehearsal dinner?

It really depends on your guest list and the formality of the event.  If your rehearsal dinner will be a formal, catered, sit down dinner then it is best to send invitations that match that formality.  If you are having a pizza party at your place after the rehearsal, written invitations probably aren’t necessary.  That said, if you will be having out-of-town guests at the rehearsal or rehearsal dinner, invitations would be a good idea regardless of the formality of the dinner.  The invitations can be formal and elegant or casual and fun to match the event.  Including a card with printed directions from the rehearsal site to the party site is also a considerate gesture for out-of-town guests.

Who do I invite to the rehearsal dinner?

The obligatory guest list includes the entire wedding party and the parents of both the bride and groom.  Those are also the only people who should attend the rehearsal.  Who you invite in addition to those people is up to you entirely.  You may invite the spouses of your attendants and any out-of-town guests who have come for your wedding as well.

If my wedding is formal, does my rehearsal dinner have to be formal as well?

Your rehearsal dinner does not have to match your wedding in formality.  If your wedding is casual your rehearsal can be a formal dinner at a fancy restaurant.  The opposite is also true.  The rehearsal dinner for a formal wedding can be a night at a local pizza parlor or bowling alley.  Local hotspots or arcades are also great casual settings for a rehearsal dinner.

Who toasts at the rehearsal dinner?

Chances are some of the attendants will toast the couple at the rehearsal dinner.  Parents and other guests may also toast.  The rules are pretty relaxed when it comes to toasting at this event.  While the couple does not answer toasts at the actual wedding, it is tradition for the groom to thank the person toasting at the rehearsal dinner and perhaps offer a toast of his own.  If more than one person will be toasting the groom may offer his thanks without standing and stand up to thank everyone and toast his guests and his bride when everyone is finished.  The bride may also offer a toast, preferably before the groom.

Are any gifts given at the rehearsal dinner?

No gifts are given to the couple at the rehearsal dinner.  However, if the bride and groom have not yet given their attendants gifts now would be the time to do so.  The bride may have already given her bridesmaids their gifts at a bridesmaids’ luncheon or tea.  If so, the groom should not make a show about giving his groomsmen their gifts.

Do I invite my wedding officiant to the rehearsal dinner?

It is appropriate to invite the officiant to the rehearsal dinner.  Depending on the officiant and his or her schedule they may or may not accept.  Some officiants charge for their time the night of the rehearsal so keep your invitation informal and optional.

Do I have to have a rehearsal dinner?

Yes, you have to have a rehearsal dinner.  It is bad manners to invite someone to a rehearsal and not at least feed them afterward.  If finances are a concern hold a potluck or a pizza party.  You can even make pizza dough in advance and let people top their own and pop them in the oven a couple at a time.  Delis often offer inexpensive packages where you can get rolls, lunch meat, meatballs, salads and all the trimmings the morning of the event.

In short, if you are having a rehearsal you need a rehearsal dinner.  Skipping the rehearsal is never a good idea no matter how traditional your wedding will be.  Every venue is different and figuring out where you should be standing can be a bit awkward if you do not know in advance.