Rehearsal dinners are an important wedding tradition that brings two families together right before the big day to celebrate. This main event is planned for the celebration, important announcements, delivering special speeches and coordinating important details. It will not be as grand as your big day, but the rehearsal dinner requires careful planning to make the moments memorable.
What is a Rehearsal Dinner?
The rehearsal dinner can be a little mystery that makes some wonder about its purpose and how it fits into the plan. Traditionally, the rehearsal dinner is a dinner that brings the wedding party and two families together the evening prior to the wedding day. It is commonly seen as an opportunity to relax and celebrate after many months of planning. The rehearsal dinner is centered around the two families. It is opportunity to meet family, deliver special speeches and give gifts to the wedding party. We can get caught up in the wedding planning process and lose sight of the family and the actual celebration. Take advantage of the celebration and the opportunity to spend with those you love.
What is on the Timeline?
Just as you plan a timeline for a wedding, you will plan a timeline for your rehearsal dinner. This is a formal celebration that usually involves serving a formal dinner, dessert, cocktails, entertainment and some important speeches. After the cocktails are served, the groom’s father stands to offer a special toast to his son and future daughter-in-law. The mother of the groom follows with her own toast and speech to her son and future daughter-in-law. Then, the groom delivers a heartfelt speech and makes a special toast to his bride. The groom usually delivers a special thank you to his parents and the guests in attendance. The bride can take the opportunity to make a toast and thank the hosts and her guests in attendance. The toasting ceremony is a significant part of the rehearsal dinner and should be properly planned on a timeline. This ritual is an attention grabber that sets the stage for the next big event. After the toasting and speeches, you may choose to distribute gifts to the wedding party and the parents. It is also an opportunity for brides and grooms to present their wedding gifts to each other. After the last toast is made and gifts are given, announcements usually follow. Entertainment and games can be planned on your timeline around all of the significant events.
Rehearsal Dinner Entertainment
Make sure your rehearsal dinner does not compete with the wedding day. Depending on the scale of your event, you might have some entertainment, such as a comedian or band. You might choose a pianist in the corner, a stringed quartet or a harpist. Not every rehearsal dinner hosts entertainment. Let the atmosphere and theme guide you on the decision. If a DJ is planned for the wedding day, try to avoid a full band or anything over the top that will take away from the wedding celebration.
Announcements are an important part of the rehearsal dinner. It creates the perfect opportunity to focus on questions and answers, especially when it comes to the wedding party. The party might have questions about where they need to be at certain times. The wedding day timeline, locations, transportation and reviewing roles are main topics.
Who Hosts the Rehearsal Dinner?
Who hosts and pays for what during wedding planning causes some confusion. Traditions are continuously changing and each event is constantly being redefined. Since the bride’s family takes most of the responsibility of planning and paying for the wedding day, the groom's parents take the opportunity to plan and pay for this special event. However, couples and family members are commonly sharing the cost of the event, especially when a large rehearsal dinner is being planned. If you are hosting your own rehearsal dinner, you will naturally be in charge of planning your own event and paying all the costs.
Guest List for the Rehearsal Dinner
Deciding who to add to the guest list for a rehearsal dinner can be a little confusing at first. You should definitely have the parents of the couple, the wedding party and the couple in attendance. It is common courtesy to invite the officiant and their significant other, but it is not required. While the guest list is usually comprised of close friends and family that are central to the main event, you might consider inviting close family or friends that are not. If you invite extra guests to the rehearsal dinner, they should also be on the wedding guest list.
The rehearsal dinner usually occurs the evening before the wedding day and lasts between one and two hours. The length of the party depends on the length of your timeline. If you have a three course meal and a long list of special events planned, you might have a slighter longer event than the average. If you are planning a more extravagant event, you should host the rehearsal dinner a couple of days prior to the wedding to allow time between the rehearsal dinner and the wedding.
Catering the Rehearsal Dinner
Smaller events can be held in a restaurant or a backyard barbecue, but you might consider a small venue and catering the rehearsal dinner. It is important to understand the different types of catering services and establish which ones your unique event requires. Drop-off service is one of the most affordable types of catering services, but that does not mean it is right for your event. Drop-off service is designed to deliver your cuisine to banquet staff and food managers for a buffet-style dining experience. Full-service catering involves plated meals, portioning, artfully designing each plate and providing full-service to the reception tables. This involves setting up, breaking down, plated meals, staff services, bartender services and a much wider range of menu options. Think about the size of the rehearsal dinner you are planning and your overall vision for the experience you want to create.
Choosing a Venue
The venue for the rehearsal dinner can be anywhere on the spectrum from casual backyard garden party to a formal ballroom. The budget, guest list and your unique vision will help you make the decision about the space. If budget is an issue, stick to an exclusive group. You might plan a smaller dessert party with cocktails with other close friends and family members. Location is important. You should choose a venue that is close to hotels and the wedding venue. If you can get a special rate at an all-inclusive venue to host the rehearsal dinner and the wedding in one space on separate dates, it will provide savings and convenience. Crystal Ballroom at Veranda is an all-inclusive event and wedding venue with a dedicated design team to create and elegant rehearsal dinner and magical wedding day. Work with the master designers, planners and coordinators, and connect with Crystal Ballroom vendors to make your celebrations everything they should be.