Whether you’ve been in a wedding or have had a close relative say “I do,” the chances are you have attended a rehearsal dinner. If not, it’s a gathering that traditionally takes place after a run-through of the wedding ceremony.
Why a wedding rehearsal? Wedding attendants need to know when to enter, how to walk, and where to stand. The wedding couple needs to practice their entrances. Running through who needs to be where, when, and how helps the wedding ceremony go smoothly.
What is a Rehearsal Dinner?
After the rehearsal is finished, it’s nice to get together and celebrate! A wedding rehearsal dinner is a sort of mini wedding reception that includes the people closest to the wedding couple. It’s a chance for the soon-to-be newlyweds to say thank you to those involved in the wedding. More personal toasts are often given here and the wedding couple may give gifts to those involved in their wedding day. What a perfect time for members of the happy couple’s families to get together and break the ice before the big day! This all typically happens the night before the wedding.
Who Goes to the Rehearsal Dinner?
Rehearsal dinner guests are typically the wedding couple, their parents and other close family members, and the wedding party. Some couples choose to extend the rehearsal dinner invitation to others involved in their wedding ceremony such as the officiant. They may choose not to come, but offering an invitation is a nice gesture.
Don’t forget to include the spouses or significant others of those in your bridal party! Asking for a definite attendance count is perfectly acceptable, but politeness dictates spouses and SOs also invited to the wedding be included in the rehearsal dinner invitation. Other people sometimes included in the rehearsal dinner are out-of-town guests traveling a great distance. This is a nice way to thank those traveling for making the trip to share in celebrating your big day, but is not a requirement (for those celebrating on a budget).
What Do I Wear to the Rehearsal Dinner?
What to wear to the rehearsal dinner can be a bit tricky as the formality of your event can range widely. Take cues about your rehearsal dinner outfit from where the wedding is, the rehearsal dinner venue, and the time of day. If you receive a printed invitation, you can often determine the formality from the style of the invitation itself. As many wedding couples use wedding websites today, often the suggested dress will be listed on the event page.
Another good rule of thumb is that the rehearsal dinner is usually less formal than the actual wedding. So, in short, if the rehearsal dinner is at a barn venue, casual will likely do. At an upscale restaurant, you may want to dress a bit more formal. Regardless, leave the distressed jean shorts at home and take it up a notch – it’s always better to be overdressed rather than underdressed.
For guys, a simple rule of thumb is to wear a dress shirt, tie, and dress pants. If that feels a little too formal, unbutton the shirt a bit and roll up the sleeves the three-quarter length and voila!
For ladies, it’s a bit more difficult to determine a rehearsal dinner outfit. When in doubt, a stylish dress will always work (avoid white as that’s reserved for the wedding couple)! Brides tend to choose a white dress or outfit as a kind of allusion to the wedding dress for the day to follow.
If there is still any question about what is or isn’t acceptable for the rehearsal dinner, always feel free to reach out to the wedding couple – or whoever invited you – to ask the formality of the event to ease your mind. As the couple has a lot going on during wedding week, the courteous thing to do is to ask a couple weeks ahead of time. Not only does this keep you from adding any stress to the wedding couple the week of their wedding, it also gives you plenty of time to adapt your outfit to fit.
Rehearsal Dinner Ideas for the Wedding Couple
This is where it can be a bit of fun! If you’re having upscale events all the way through, a chic restaurant with sexy cocktails and beautiful food dishes is wonderful. Wanting more casual? Everything works from a favorite restaurant to catering food at home! If you couldn’t decide what kind of wedding you wanted, why not incorporate your alternate choice into your rehearsal dinner? Take a peek at a few different options below.
- BBQ – Why not go casual and informal with your choice of rehearsal dinner venues and pick one where guests can mingle and get to know each other? Play lawn games and chat into the night under globe lights. Having a buffet-style event will get your friends and family mixing and enjoying themselves.
- Tasting – If you’re somewhere in between casual and formal, why not schedule a tasting event? Gather at a winery or brewery and enjoy picking your favorite drinks. If that isn’t your style, gather at an informal, yet posh restaurant that can serve meals family-style so that everyone gets a taste of what is on the menu.
- Upscale Restaurant – Dressing up is always fun, and having a catered meal at a local rehearsal dinner venue or upscale restaurant is a lovely touch. An elegant, plated dinner allows for guests to enjoy and stay awhile as everyone reminisces about times past.
No matter your style or taste, planning a wedding rehearsal dinner with family and friends can set the tone for the big day. It is a fabulous way for everyone to come together and begin the festivities, for families to bond and to thank those without whom your wedding day would not be the same.