Wedding Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette

By Tina Hayes and Indigo Silva

There are many undertakings for a bride and groom as their big day approaches. Stress levels can rise and tension can grow as the wedding planning gets further underway. The wedding rehearsal dinner is a special event which allows the bridal couple to thank the wedding party and family members for their support throughout theplanning and preparation process. This is a time set aside to relax and enjoy a delicious meal with family and friends one final time before the wedding. Even though the rehearsal dinner is a small part of the wedding festivities, it too can become stressful. Following these simple rules of etiquette can help make the dinner easy and enjoyable.

The Guest List

Traditionally, those invited to the dinner are the bridal couple’s immediate family members along with the wedding party and other key contributors such as the wedding coordinator. However, it is ultimately up to the couple to decide who they would like to invite. The guests who should be included at the dinner are the parents of the bridal couple (including step parents), immediate and close family members, the wedding party, flower girls and ring bearers along with their parents and the officiate including his/her spouse. It is polite to invite guests who are flying in from out of town, but this is up to the couple.

Location and Date

The location can be as formal as a five star restaurant or as informal as a barbeque in ones backyard. The atmosphere should be relaxed and casual. The dinner should fall at least a week before the wedding so that all last minute questions can be voiced and answered. It is important that the rehearsal dinner not out shine the wedding and reception.

Who Hosts?

The bride’s family traditionally pays for the wedding and the groom and his family host and pay for the rehearsal dinner. Again, traditions have changed. Anyone within the wedding party or guests can offer to host the rehearsal dinner. The host should remember that this event is meant to take the bridal couple’s mind away from wedding frenzies and enjoy time with family and friends in a fun and light hearted environment.

A Few Last Minute Tips

  • Bride and groom should allow the host to be in charge. Do not try to micromanage how the event is handled, just relax and enjoy!
  • The hosts should make sure the dinner is paid for. There should be no reason for the guests to pay for their meals or drinks.
  • The hosts can obtain the guest list from the bride and groom and should not invite additional guests.
  • Guests should watch how much they drink.  It is extremely distasteful to drink too much at an event like this.
  • All invitees should wear an outfit that fits the atmosphere. There’s no need to overdress by trying to match wedding themes or colors.

With spring in the air, wedding bells will begin to ring. If you are fortunate to be invited to a wedding rehearsal dinner, remember these rules of etiquette.

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Tina Hayes is the founder and owner of The School of Etiquette and Decorum in Antioch, CA. As a passionate instructor dedicated to providing quality and professional etiquette training to her clients, Mrs. Tina Hayes promotes the awareness that social presentation and behaviors are important to be successful in today's society for all ages.