How to Follow Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette. Rehearsal dinners give everyone involved with the wedding celebration a chance to prepare for the big day while relaxing with friends and family. They can be small formal dinners or large backyard barbecues. The most important thing is that the event is representative of the bride and groom. Rehearsal dinner etiquette is more relaxed than wedding ceremony etiquette. Couples are not expected to follow many rules when planning the dinner. However, there are some general suggestions that should be considered when hosting the event.
Discuss the rehearsal dinner with the groom's parents since tradition dictates they host the event. Some couples choose not to follow this tradition and opt to host the dinner themselves as a way to thank their families and the wedding participants. This is a great alternative, but make sure to explain your decision to the groom's parents to avoid hurt feelings.
Plan the dinner for the evening before the wedding immediately following the ceremony rehearsal. This will ensure that your bridal party and family members are in town and available for the festivities.
Invite the immediate families of the bride and groom, each member of the bridal party with a guest and any other close friends or family members you would like to take part in the occasion. Make sure to invite the officiant as well.
Choose a dinner set-up that fits the style and budget for the event. Plan to have a cocktail/socialization hour prior to the meal to give guests a chance to mingle and relax. An after-dinner time to socialize can be fun as well, but be prepared to make it an early evening so that everyone is well rested for the big day.
Toast the parents of the bride and groom at the rehearsal dinner. It is customary for the engaged couple to show appreciation to their parents, bridal party or anyone else who has contributed to the wedding. The toasts should follow the main course during the dinner. The maid of honor and best man should save their toasts for the reception.
Plan to present the bridal party with their thank-you gifts at the rehearsal dinner.
Invitations are not required for a rehearsal dinner. However, they do offer an opportunity for you to communicate the necessary details of the event with your guests. Include an RSVP if needed. Plan to invite all out-of-town guests to the rehearsal dinner for a destination wedding. The other suggestions for etiquette are still applicable for a destination wedding.
Be careful not to assume that the groom's parents will host the dinner. Have a back-up plan in case they are not able to contribute.