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!