All attention goes to the big wedding day and the fabulous reception! The rehearsal and its dinner are only the warm up to the big show, and are many times overlooked for their importance. There are certain rules that go along with the rehearsal dinner, just as there are proper etiquette guidelines for the wedding.
The couple along with the person(s) hosting the rehearsal dinner needs to determine the formality, the location, invitation list, and the design of the invitations. The dinner and invitations should never outshine the wedding invitations, but should rather complement the wedding invitation.
Who pays? This is the most asked question. Because of our ever-changing culture, traditional rehearsal rules may not apply to the couple getting married. For example: traditional etiquette states, the rehearsal dinner, and party are hosted (paid for) by the parents of the groom. However, in today’s culture, many couples marry later in life and can afford a more elaborate rehearsal than their elderly parents can afford. Or perhaps it is the couple’s second marriage, so the couple pays for their own rehearsal dinner and party. It is also acceptable for a relative or friend to host the rehearsal dinner.
Some traditional etiquette rules that still apply
The rehearsal dinner is held
the night before the wedding, regardless of when the wedding rehearsal is held. The rehearsal dinner can be in a private home, country club or even at a restaurant, usually in a private room. The dress code can vary, but it is never more elegant than the wedding reception.
On the list
of invitees you traditionally invite: The parents, grandparents, siblings and their spouses, spouses of the parents (if they remarried), the clergyman and the entire wedding party. The children of the bride and groom are also invited if they are not too young. Invitations beyond this list are completely up to the couple and the hosts as the list and expense can grow out of control.
Rehearsal dinner toasts
are said during dinner, not after dinner. Traditionally, the toasts begin with the serving of the first course. The host, usually the groom's father, welcomes the guests and thanks the bride's parents for hosting the wedding. The best man makes a toast, and then the father of the bride's responds with his own good wishes, followed by the groom, the groomsmen, and a bridesmaid or two. In the new parameters of today's etiquette, the best man makes the first toast, because the couple, not the groom’s parents, hosts the rehearsal. Also, guests may participate in giving toasts to the couple, and it's not even unusual for the bride or her mother to add a few words.
: The rehearsal dinner is the perfect time for the bride and groom to present their wedding party with well thought-out thank-you gifts. This creates a less formal but more memorable wedding party gift-giving gathering.
The best way to give a gift in today’s world is online; it is efficient and manageable for all parties involved. However, the rehearsal is also an acceptable time to give a gift. Giving a gift at the wedding is a difficult task for someone to schlep it from the wedding back to the couples home and hope they do not break the gift or loose the attached gift card.
The rehearsal dinner is a perfect way to have your family and close friends to meet one another. I realize this can create unwanted drama, but in today’s modern families we are learning more than ever to get along with one another, despite family differences or previous broken marriages. This will help in assuring that the wedding day and rehearsal can be happy memories for the couple starting out their life together.
Joy Weaver is a renowned etiquette expert, speaker, and author of “Just Ask Joy… How to Be Socially Savvy in All Situations”—a book highly endorsed by Jean and Zig Ziglar. Joy represents designer Joseph Ribkoff and is a regular guest on ABC’s Good Morning Texas. Her clients vary in range from corporate giants such as Raytheon, Sprint and Balfour Construction to Junior Leagues and National Charity Leagues across the nation. Joy is nationally published and has been featured on ABC’s The View, in the Associated Press, New York Times, USA Today, Southern Living Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and The Dallas Business Journal. Protocol Enterprises/Just Ask Joy is based in Dallas and has served clients across the country since 2000. You can follow Joy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SociallySavvy, www.allthingsrefined.blogspot, and learn more at www.justaskjoy.com.