How to Organize the Rehearsal Dinner

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The rehearsal dinner is a fabulous evening for the bride and groom's
closest family and friends to enjoy a meal together, relax after all the
wedding preparations and toast the lucky couple. Traditionally, the
rehearsal dinner is held the night before the wedding and immediately
following the rehearsal--when love is in the air and the wedding
anticipation is building.

  • Determine who will pay for the dinner and how much to spend. Traditionally the groom's family acts as host, but these days anything goes. See 325 Budget for a Wedding.

  • Select an appropriate venue. A private dining room in a restaurant is a popular choice. You could also host the dinner on a yacht, in someone's backyard or at the beach.

  • Invite both families, all of the attendants and close friends, as well as guests who have traveled a great distance to attend the wedding.

  • Remind the best man and the groom's dad that it is customary that they toast the couple first. After they have done so, anyone can offer up a toast. You might follow this order, but keep the toasting under control:

  • Present thank-you gifts. Typically, the bride and groom give gifts to the maid of honor, bridesmaids, best man and groomsmen at the rehearsal dinner. Express your appreciation in short but sweet speeches as you hand out each gift, or opt to present gifts privately.

Tips & Warnings

  • Show home movies or videos of the groom and bride as kids. Or create a photo collage of the two over the years.
  • See 208 Prepare a Speech.
  • Invent a cocktail for the couple. Get together one evening before the rehearsal dinner with some of the other attendants, and mix up different ingredients for a signature cocktail. Create a name for the cocktail (based on the couple, of course), and ask the bartender to mix up drinks for everyone.
  • If there are divorced parents in the mix, things can get especially saucy at the rehearsal dinner, because it is typically an intimate affair with not much breathing room available. Take extra care to arrange the seating so that all of your guests are comfortable.

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