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4 Wedding Rehearsal Etiquette Tips


Traditionally, the rehearsal dinner is the groom and groom’s parents project; therefore, they decide where it will be located, who will be invited, and they are expected to give toasts. Modern wedding rehearsal etiquette is much less defined, and usually determined by whoever is footing the bill. Here are a few things to remember about rehearsal dinner etiquette:

It does not have to be fancy. It is perfectly acceptable to host the rehearsal dinner at a bowling alley, in someone’s backyard for a barbeque, or even have a potluck.

If the cost of the wedding is shared between the bride and groom’s parents, then it is perfectly fair to suggest that the cost of the rehearsal dinner be shared as well.

If the bride and the groom are hosting, or if the groom’s parents are hosting, then the groom should definitely give a toast. He should remember that it does not necessarily need to be long and eloquent; it should be sincere, show his excitement for his wedding day, and should thank his parents and the wedding party for all they have done.

Wedding rehearsal etiquette also dictates that the father of the groom give a toast. Again, this may change depending on who is footing the bill. The father or mother of the bride can also give toasts if they’d like. The first toast usually begins after the drinks are served and before the first course of the meal.

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Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette for Delicate Situations


Your rehearsal dinner is a chance for you, your wedding party and close family to unwind and enjoy each other's company before the wedding day, and you'll want to make sure that you and all of your guests are comfortable. The following tips will guide you along if you find yourself facing any number of delicate situations on your big day.

Act gracefully, with the best manners possible, as a generous hostess would. “Etiquette” is a new point of study, as our more relaxed culture has allowed for much grey area surrounding the issue. However, if there is an opportunity to show off your grace and elegance, it’s a wedding! With rehearsal dinner etiquette, it is important to treat everyone kindly and respectfully, even if, for example, you do not respect a particular person.

This is not the time to bring up disagreements or other issues, or to “snub” anyone. Make sure that you invite everyone that wedding rehearsal etiquette dictates that you invite. If your parents are divorced, and your mother or father is dating (or married to) someone who is difficult or unlikable, you should still invite them. Some will argue that as the bride, you can do whatever you want. Many strongly disagree, as following this advice does not reflect well upon your character. Unless something absolutely terrible has happened, do not snub anyone. The same principle applies to wedding reception etiquette.

If you want to pay for the rehearsal dinner so that you can dictate where it will take place (specifically, the atmosphere), this is absolutely acceptable. Just make sure that you present this to your parents in a diplomatic and eloquent way. Tell them that you want to pay for the rehearsal dinner as a way to thank everyone involved in the wedding for their hard work.

Figure out who is giving toasts and let them know, so that they can prepare beforehand. With rehearsal dinner etiquette, usually the father or mother of the groom gives a toast if he or she is paying for the wedding. If not, it is up to your discretion. The rehearsal dinner presents a great opportunity for either the bride or groom to give a toast, and to present gifts to their bridal party. This can also be a great way to smooth over any tension that families may feel. (Check out: Tips for a Great Rehearsal Dinner Toast)

Have drinks available, but don’t encourage a night of drinking. Drinking inevitably escalates any issues that already exist. It is important to strike a balance with alcoholic beverages. Have them available for those who would like to relax, but don’t encourage a boozy night. Also, you need all of your wits about you to prepare for your wedding.

Do your best to enjoy the evening, and try to make everyone feel relaxed and comfortable. As the bride, you set the tone for the rehearsal dinner, for the wedding ceremony, and for the wedding reception. The best weddings are not those where every last detail is perfect, where everything goes off without a single hitch. The most enjoyable weddings are those where the bride is having the time of her life and looking forward to her life with her new husband. As the bride, you have a role to execute. Even if you are nervous, do your best to treat everyone gracefully.

Remember that you cannot control the way people act. You can do your best to make everyone comfortable and happy, but you still cannot control what they do or say. Don’t focus on the negative things that can or may occur. Instead, focus on the wedding and the wonderful celebration ahead!

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Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette: Show Appreciation!


Your rehearsal dinner is a great opportunity to not only socialize with your wedding party and close family members, but also to express your appreciation for all the hard work they've likely put into helping you plan your wedding. Like with other aspects of your wedding, you may be wondering about wedding rehearsal etiquette. By keeping a few pointers in mind, you can ensure that your rehearsal dinner is as fun and memorable as it should be.

  1. Speak to the parents of the groom about who is hosting. In traditional wedding rehearsal etiquette, the parents of the groom host the dinner. However, more brides and grooms are hosting the dinner as a way to thank their parents and show appreciation for their bridal party. If you decide to host the dinner yourself, make sure to speak to the groom’s parents so that they understand your decision.
  2. Invite the officiant and wedding planner. You do not have to invite all of your vendors (unless, for example, your florist is also a good friend). However, it is good rehearsal dinner etiquette to invite your wedding planner and officiant.
  3. Don’t plan to socialize too late into the evening, especially if your wedding is the next day. The rehearsal dinner is not the time to party (hopefully you have done that already!) It is an occasion to relax and enjoy your friends and family before the wedding.
  4. Toast to your parents, even if they have not been extensively involved in the planning process.
  5. Give gifts and handwritten thank-you notes to your bridal party. This is your opportunity to thank your friends for being in your wedding, and giving your bridesmaids and groomsmen a gift is standard rehearsal dinner etiquette. You do not have to spend a lot of money, but make sure the gift is thoughtful, appropriate, and most importantly, shows how much you appreciate them!


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Looking Forward to the Rehearsal Dinner


Many brides say that the rehearsal dinner is one of the loveliest occasions leading up to their wedding day. Because the actual wedding day can be busy and overwhelming—and logistically, it’s not possible to have long and meaningful conversations with each guest—the rehearsal dinner presents an opportunity to enjoy the company of your family and friends in a more relaxed atmosphere. In some cases, this is the first opportunity for the parents or families of the bride and groom to meet each other. This often happens when they live in different states or countries. Here are a few tips for making the most of your rehearsal dinner.

Make a guest list.
Typically, the guest list should include the bride and groom's parents, siblings, grandparents, your bridesmaids and groomsmen, the flower girl and the ring bearer if you have them, and the priest or person conducting the ceremony (he or she may decline the invitation but it is still polite to offer). If you have a wedding planner or someone who has helped extensively with the process, it is nice to invite him or her to show your appreciation for the work they’ve done. Also, including out of town guests in the rehearsal dinner is a great opportunity to spend some time with them as there will be little time to do so in the days leading up to wedding—and then you’re likely off for the honeymoon!

Figure out who is hosting the dinner.
Traditionally it is the parents of the groom who host the rehearsal dinner, but this is not always the case. If the groom’s parents never mention the rehearsal dinner, they may be simply unaware of traditional etiquette. If you would like them to host the dinner, it is important to approach the subject with them to see if they would be interested. Otherwise, the bride and groom usually host. Remember that the rehearsal dinner does not need to be at a fancy restaurant: you could host a backyard barbeque, order pizza, or have the dinner at a restaurant that is reasonably priced. Look into those that offer discounted menus for such occasions.

The father of the groom speech usually begins the series of toasts, which should happen after the drinks are served and before the first course of the meal. It is a good idea to talk to the father of the groom to see if he would like to give a toast, and let him know when to do so. The best man and the maid of honor usually say something, as well as a few members of the bridal party. Let your bridesmaids and groomsmen know that they are welcome to give a toast so that they can think about what they’d like to say beforehand.

Give gifts to your bridal party to show your appreciation.
We all know that being in a wedding involves a lot of extra time and cost. The rehearsal dinner is the perfect situation to say thank you to your bridal party. For bridesmaids, a thank you gift could be something as simple as a candle, stationery, earrings, or a gift card.

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Including Women on “His Side” of Your Wedding Party


In today’s world, if your fiancé’s best friend is a woman, he can ask her to be a Groomswomen or a Best Woman. No one should raise an eyebrow, and if they do, chances are that they are the ones who are behind the times.

Your fiancé and the woman taking on either one of these roles simply needs to know the etiquette protocol. A female groomswomen wears an outfit similar or the same to that of the bridesmaids. To distinguish her from the bridesmaids she can add an accessory that matches something the other groomsmen are wearing. While a female groomsman should not walk guests down the aisle, she can hand out programs. Another nice idea is to assign her the job of helping friends move into the receiving line after the ceremony. When she walks down the aisle, have her escorted by one of the groomsmen, just as you would a bridesmaid.

A best woman should wear a dress of her choosing, and make sure it doesn’t clash with the maid of honor’s outfit. She can either join the groom at the altar or walk down with the rest of the wedding party.

Both the best woman and the groomswomen are invited to all parties, and can host the bachelor party or any other pre-wedding bash. If women are on the man’s side, make sure all the other men are informed, and any romp to a macho bar is reconsidered. When people of the opposite sex are in your wedding party, it’s common to also have co-ed showers and co-ed bachelor/bachelorette parties, or to opt instead for a simple engagement party.

As for duties, nothing changes. The groomswomen will have to be fitted for her outfit at the same time as the bridesmaids, and the best woman usually takes care of tips, picks up and drops off tuxes, and makes a toast at the reception. Both buy a gift for the couple, and both should be given a gift from the groom.

Read more: Groomsmen 101: Their Role on Your Big Day, The Bridesman or Man of Honor and Your Wedding Party: Who Does What?

Big Ideas for Small Ceremonies


For different reasons, many couples opt to have an intimate ceremony instead of a lavish affair. If you’ve decided to forego the big, formal wedding in favor of a small gathering, a few details change. Read on for tiny tips.

Your guest list is the first thing that gets slashed. If you’re aiming for 50 people, start with half that number. When making your list, write down immediately family, and then move on to essential friends. Guest lists double in size quickly because, as soon as you invite Uncle Lou, you’ll realize that Uncle Mick will be hurt if he’s not included.

For the actual affair, you can omit bridesmaids, but it’s wise to keep a maid of honor and a best man. You’ll be amazed at how much time and stress is involved in planning, and having a helper is a life-saver. Also, you’ll want to share the day with a loved one. Caterers, photographers, and florists are used to working for small parties, and you should still seek them out as early as possible.

If your ceremony is at a restaurant, or somewhere intimate like your home or a backyard, a band or DJ is often not the best idea, or even a realistic one. You might consider hiring a vocalist or a string trio; you can search online for both. If you want to marry in a house of worship, talk to your clergyperson about finding a smaller site. It’s possible that your clergyperson won’t be able to marry you in the location you choose, but he can direct you to the right person.

Big parties are probably not going to be on your to-do list, but it’s a good idea to have a rehearsal dinner. It’s a great chance for everyone to meet up before your big day, especially anyone who’s not met the rest of the crowd. Feel free to have a shower, but do not invite anyone who’s not invited to the ceremony. Even though your intentions are good, it might come across as if you want the presents, but don’t want to pay the expense to have them attend your wedding.

For smaller affairs, you don’t need to send out the invites far in advance, as most guests will know about your ceremony. Make sure, however, that all invitations are hand-written. To save hurt feelings, get the word out that the two of you are only inviting immediately family and friends. One way to include everyone who you can’t invite is to throw a large party after the fact. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, but it’s a wonderful way for everyone to celebrate the life you’ve just begun.

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 here to host an evening your guests will remember for a lifetime.

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