Traditionally, on the day before your wedding, the festivities get started with a rehearsal. Over time, this function has split into two separate events, a practice session along with a meal. The meal brings together close friends and family, generally the same people who attended the rehearsal, plus appropriate others.
Is a rehearsal of the ceremony really necessary?
Although a formal rehearsal of the ceremony is not required, most officiants will want to take a run through of the full program. Those included would be the bride and groom, their parents, the wedding party and any readers/singers. The officiant will give everyone their cues for the next day, so things will go smoothly. Knowing where to stand and what to do will ensure everyone is a fraction less nervous at the wedding.
What if we can't use the wedding site for the rehearsal?
Ideally, you should have the rehearsal at the wedding site. This can be especially valuable if there are young children in the wedding party. Sometimes however, the requirements of the site do not make a rehearsal feasible. A rehearsal can be done in someone's home, or in just about any large space.
What's the function of the rehearsal dinner?
After the rehearsal, everyone gathers for a celebration dinner, where the bride and groom are the center of attention. In this less-formal setting, family members meeting for the first time can mingle and get better acquainted. Unlike the Big Day, the bride and groom are under less pressure and have more time to talk with relatives in a relaxed fashion.
Once everyone has arrived and is seated, either the bride or groom should take a moment to welcome their guests with a few heartfelt words and thank them for attending.
Numerous toasts are usually part of the rehearsal dinner. If you need someone to start the toasts, the groom's father is a good choice.
Who should be invited to the dinner?
The rehearsal dinner guest list should include immediate family, (parents and siblings) wedding-party members and any spouses and significant others along with the parents of any child attendants. You should invite the officiant and his/her spouse to the dinner, unless it's a civil service. If you have out-of-town guests who have already arrived for the wedding, you can invite them to the dinner portion of the evening.
Who handles the costs of the dinner?
The groom's parents traditionally paid, but these days it can be hosted by anyone. No matter who hosts, be sure they are involved in the entire planning process.
Is it necessary to send formal invitations to the rehearsal dinner?
No, engraved invitations are not necessary, unless you're planning an event as big and formal as the wedding reception. For most couples, word-of-mouth or simple phone calls are fine.
When is the rehearsal dinner?
Often, this event is on the eve of the wedding, however it could be anytime during that day, as in morning, noon, or evening. The term "dinner" is used loosely.
Where should the dinner be held?
Where you hold the event will depend on the number of people you expect to attend and the costs involved. The options are wide open, from a casual barbecue in the backyard to a table for twenty-five at the local country club. Keep in mind, relaxation and chatting are high priorities at this event. The location should also be convenient for out-of-town guests, who may not be familiar with your city. Provide a detailed map if necessary.
Should I handout gifts during the dinner?
In addition to family members meeting each other, the dinner provides an excellent opportunity for the couple to hand out their attendant's thank-you gifts. Chances are, this setting will be much less hectic than the reception and can make the gift giving more personalized. The couple should present their parents or anyone else who was an important part of the wedding process, with a token of appreciation.
Kathryn Lemmon, Wedding Zone Staff Writer