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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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Wedding Party Schedules


In order to make sure your wedding day goes off without a hitch, you’ll want to give your wedding party a detailed wedding day schedule that highlights their responsibilities. Your wedding day is, in many ways, like a production, so in order to ensure everyone plays their part; they’ll need a script with stage directions.

As far as the best man and maid of honor are concerned, they should be given information about their duties as soon as you announce your engagement. Since the maid of honor and best man responsibilities begin during the many months leading up to the wedding, it is respectful to make sure they’re informed with plenty of planning time. For example, since one of the best man duties is to plan the bachelor party, he’ll need to know what that entails so that he’s able to get hotel reservations and/or show tickets in advance.

Type up a wedding day schedule for each member of your wedding party, which includes a timeline of where they need to be when, and include any phone numbers (your maid of honor or parents) that they can call if they are going to be late or have any questions. This way you won’t have to worry about answering calls from lost or confused wedding party members on the day when you really should only have to focus on walking down that aisle!

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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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Best Man Responsibilities


Any job that is given to a friend or family member for your wedding is of great significance, however, the duties of the maid of honor and best man are of the utmost importance. The person you ask to be your best man should be aware of what is expected of them, perhaps before they give you a definitive yes. I’ve been the maid of honor for two brides to date, and both were extremely demanding of my time, however the rewards of such an important role were priceless.


  • The first of the best man responsibilities that needs to be taken care of is to begin planning the bachelor party. The best man is the planner and point person for the entire event. If a trip is being planned, the best man goes over the details with the groom prior to making reservations. The trip could backfire if the groom is asked to do anything or go anywhere that he doesn’t feel comfortable with.
  • The best man should prepare at least one speech for the bachelor party. This speech can be more of a casual toast congratulating the groom and is also a prime opportunity for him to tell stories about the groom that may not be appropriate for the wedding reception.
  • Prior to the wedding the best man should be a pillar of support for the groom. He should be available to take care of any errands that the groom needs help with such as picking up the groom’s tuxedo, or helping him with the essentials needed for his honeymoon.
  • He is expected to make the first speech at the rehearsal dinner.

Day of Wedding

  • The best man is in charge of helping the groom dress for the wedding.
  • It’s customary for the best man to travel to the ceremony with the groom.
  • The best man is responsible for letting the groomsmen know whom they will be walking down the aisle with.
  • The best man should be at the ceremony before it begins to welcome friends and family and to let ushers know where to seat friends and family of the bride and groom.
  • Even though there may be a Ring Bearer, the actual wedding ring should be given to the best man for safe keeping up until it is handed to the groom during the ceremony.
  • The best man should ensure that the groom has the marriage license.


  • He will give the best man wedding speech at the reception.
  • The best man duties also include a dance with the maid of honor for one song that will be specified by the band or DJ.
  • Also in charge of returning the groom’s tuxedo after the wedding and any other errands that need to be taken care of after the bride and groom leave for their honeymoon.


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Groomsmen 101: A Primer for the Guys in Your Wedding Party


Groomsmen are an integral part of your wedding, and not just guys who look great on the bridesmaids’ arms. Ask friends and relatives, and anyone else who’s been close to your fiancé (and/or you) to take part in the festivities. Groomsmen can be any age, from tiny tots to great grandfathers. But make sure that all the men understand that being a groomsman does not simply mean renting a tux and showing up to party.

While it’s nice to include as many people in your wedding party as possible, avoid asking guys to be groomsmen who are notoriously irresponsible or who can’t guarantee they’ll make it to the reception on time. Keep wedding nerves to a minimum by asking enthusiastic loved ones who’ve expressed an interest in your wedding party. Don’t pressure anyone into taking the “job,” and remember that people often say “yes” out of courtesy.

Your groomsmen are responsible for their own suits, although some couples opt to pay for the men’s outfits. They are fitted ahead of time, a job that can be taken care of in their hometown, should they live away from where the ceremony will take place.

The groomsmen help plan the bachelor party (while it’s common for the Best Man to host, it’s not necessary). The men are also expected to pitch in for the party. Groomsmen, like all guests, are responsible for buying a gift for the bride and groom.

Groomsmen should attend all pre-wedding parties, as well as the rehearsal dinner and the wedding rehearsal. At the ceremony, they usually serve as ushers, and need to arrive early to go over the ceremony site’s seating arrangements. Once guests arrive, groomsmen usher them to their seats, always taking women by the arm. If a couple arrives together, they still take the female’s arm. If a group of people arrive at once, the groomsmen should take the arm of the eldest female first. Groomsmen should know the location of all exits and restrooms.

The groomsmen generally walk down the aisle with the bridesmaids. If there is a shortage of women, two men can walk down on either arm of a bridesmaid.

After the ceremony, tradition has it the groomsmen help “decorate” the getaway car. Some people have retired this tradition, so it needs to be discussed with the Best Man and the groom. At the wedding, groomsmen should encourage guests to get up on their feet and dance, and they should always offer to dance with any women in need of a partner.

Read more: Your Wedding Party: Who Does What?, Including All Siblings in Your Wedding Day and Top 5 Causes of Wedding-Related Family Drama

How to Include the Younger Members of Your Bridal Party


If you’re having an under-age bridesmaid in your wedding (generally, any girl from 8 to 15), you want to make sure she has just as much fun as the other women.

Bachelorette parties are tricky if you’re planning on a night of debauchery; if you’re opting for a different kind of fun (spa day, cooking class), by all means invite the under-age bridesmaid. She can also attend any formal dinner. Make sure she has a means of getting home early if it’s going to be a late night.

According to Danielle Bobish of Curtain Up Events in New York City, the shower is a great way to include younger girls. “Give her an important job so she feels like she’s part of the wedding,” she says. “Have her keep track of gifts for thank-you notes, or gather the ribbons for the fake bouquet.”

For the wedding, a junior bridesmaid wears an outfit in a similar style as the other members of the wedding. For other events, it’s a good idea to talk to her mom about outfits. “Her mother will have a good idea about what she can wear and what she’s comfortable in,” says Bobish. “Never make a young girl wear heels.”

Like everyone else at the wedding rehearsal, she’ll learn where she’s supposed to stand and when she’s walking down the aisle. Wedding prep is a little different. “If you’re hiring a makeup artist and hairstylist, ask the parents if they want to have the girl included.” Bobish says that many artists will simply put a little blush or lip gloss on a child to make her feel special. Don’t tread on the beliefs of parents who don’t wish for their daughter to wear makeup, and don’t be surprised if she’d rather not have it, either. Younger girls, like boys, can be uncomfortable having to get dressed up for formal affairs.

Chances are a young girl isn’t going to ask for a martini at the reception, but it’s nice to let her order her own drink. “If she wants a Shirley Temple or a ginger ale, have her make the request,” says Bobish. “It’s yet another way for her to feel like a member of the wedding, and not just a little kid.”

Wedding Rehearsal Dinner: Get-to-Know-You Games


Wedding rehearsal dinners are a perfect opportunity to give your and your partner’s families a chance to relax and get to know each other in a low-key setting, especially when you play fun icebreaker games to set the up-beat mood. The key is to find games that allow the guests to get to know each other while keeping the focus on you and your husband-to-be.

Here are some get-to-know-you wedding rehearsal games that are entertaining and a lot of fun to play.

What to Expect at Your Rehearsal Dinner


On the day or evening before your wedding, it’s important to rehearse the basics of your ceremony and reception. Traditionally, the bride and groom enjoy a meal with their attendants and close family members before or after rehearsing. While the groom’s family is usually responsible for hosting the dinner, brides often have input.

Depending on the size of the bridal party, the rehearsal dinner can be held at someone’s home or at a restaurant. More recently, quirky wedding rehearsal dinner parties have been held at unique locations like bowling alleys and karaoke bars. If a lot of your guests are flying in from out of town, consider expanding the guest list beyond your bridal party to give everyone an extra chance to socialize.

At the rehearsal, your officiant and wedding organizer will lead you and your bridal party through the basics of the ceremony. If you created a ribbon-bouquet at your bridal shower, bring it along as a stand-in for your flowers. Rehearsals generally take about an hour. Have a friend come along to take pictures for your wedding scrapbook.

During the rehearsal dinner, the bride and groom traditionally toast their guests. This is the time to thank your parents and attendants for all they’ve done to help you plan your wedding. Prepare a speech ahead of time if you anticipate being nervous about toasting. Don’t forget to bring the thank-you gifts for your bridesmaids and groomsmen; they’re traditionally given out at the rehearsal dinner.