Wedding Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette

With everything else you have to worry about for the big day, make sure your wedding rehearsal dinner is as painless and stress-free as possible. After all, the rehearsal dinner is your and your family’s time to exhale and relax the day before the main event. Follow these basic rehearsal dinner etiquette rules to host an evening your guests will remember for a lifetime.

Making the Invite List
Traditionally you're expected to invite bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls and ring bearers (and their parents), ushers, immediate and close family members and your officiate. Some families from Jewish and Persian cultures customarily have the same invite list for both the rehearsal dinner and wedding. Any guests that have flown in from out of town should be invited to the rehearsal dinner as appreciation for making the trip.

Modern-day rehearsal dinner etiquette however says it's okay to keep your dinner invites intimate and to welcome additional wedding guests to join you for drinks after dinner for wedding toasts. If you go this route, make two different invites with the appropriate information regarding time, place and if there will be dinner or drinks provided. This is a great option if you want to include as many guests as you can in the pre-wedding festivities without breaking the bank.

When to Mail the Rehearsal Dinner Invitation
The rehearsal dinner invitation goes out after the wedding invites, usually right around four weeks prior to the event. Make sure that you send the wedding invite and rehearsal dinner invitation separately (this is a common mistake people make). Even though they are related, they are two completely different affairs.

Rehearsal Dinner Invitation Specifics
It's customary wedding rehearsal etiquette for the groom’s parents to foot the bill for the rehearsal dinner, which means they may plan and host this event. If that’s the case, the top of the invite should read, “Mr. & Mrs. Stassi request the pleasure of your company at the Rehearsal Dinner in honor of…” If you and your groom are planning and/or hosting the dinner, then you could have the invite read: “Practice makes perfect. Please join (you and your hubby-to-be) on (date) at (location of wedding rehearsal dinner)." If you're only inviting the wedding party to the rehearsal dinner itself, send them a separate invite with the ceremony location. There are no rehearsal dinner etiquette rules when it comes to the exact wording you choose, but these ideas will help get you started.

How to Design the Invitation
Have fun with the design—add color and theme elements to the envelope and invitation. You are welcome to use your wedding colors but you certainly don’t have to. Use the following list of styles to help you hone in on the wedding rehearsal dinner vibe and theme you’re going for:

  • Simple, stylish script
  • Tropical blooms
  • Chandelier (this can be formal or low-key chic)
  • Luxurious leaves
  • Black-tie (for formal dinners)
  • Downtown chic
  • Fine dining
  • Vintage
  • Floral fabric
  • Prairie grass (for outdoor and/or homegrown rehearsal dinners)
  • Luau/exotic (perfect for beach and/or island affairs)
  • Cowboy/rodeo/Western plains

Now that you have a good understanding of wedding rehearsal dinner etiquette, go have fun planning this exciting event!

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