What are wedding rehearsals vs rehearsal dinners? What do we do at a rehearsal dinner?
The wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinners are two separate items, though the guest list can have some overlap.
The wedding rehearsal is a practice run of the wedding ceremony, and features the full bridal party, parents and any additional attendants (like readers, singers, etc) who have a stake in the program. These typically happen for officiant-led ceremonies and church ceremonies, though any type of wedding can benefit from a run through before the big day. The rehearsal is a great opportunity to practice where all key players will be during all parts of the ceremony, and can help settle frazzled nerves leading up to the big day.
Rehearsal dinners are traditionally held after the wedding rehearsal and is held the night before or two nights before the wedding. This is a kick off to the wedding festivities and an opportunity for the couple, bridal party and families to relax before the big day. The wedding day can be very busy, with lots of guests vying for attention from the couple, so the rehearsal dinner is a great opportunity to spend time together in an intimate setting. This is also a wonderful way to alleviate any pre-wedding jitters by spending time in a warm environment with your nearest and dearest.
Who should I invite?
The Must Haves:
The rehearsal dinner guest list should include your immediate families, all wedding party members and their significant others, and the immediate families of any children in the bridal party. It is also a great idea to invite your officiant and their spouse, though this is optional.
The Nice To Haves:
It’s a lovely idea to invite any folks that are coming in from a long distance to attend the wedding, or may not have any other ties to the location of your wedding. Are you having a destination wedding? Consider opting for a welcome cocktail after the wedding rehearsal rather than a full dinner, to save some cost.
Where should it be held?
You have tons of options here! Rehearsal dinners can be held at home, in a restaurant, or even a more formal setting like a banquet hall. Typically the rehearsal dinner is less formal than the wedding itself, so consider that when planning. It wouldn’t make sense to have a super formal rehearsal dinner for a casual bbq wedding. Whatever you do, be sure to specify dress code to your guests so they are comfortable on arrival.
What should I serve?
Again, there are lots of options here! Traditionally rehearsal dinners were formal sit-down dinner affairs, but these days couples are planning backyard bbqs, cocktail receptions and potluck affairs as well. Your budget will ultimately guide you here!
Do I need physical invitations?
This will depend on the style of rehearsal you’re hosting. If you plan to have a formal sit-down affair, invitations with rsvps that indicate dietary restrictions will be required. Your catering team will need a final head count and meal selections in advance.
Alternatively, if you are hosting a more casual event, phone calls, word of mouth, email invites or wedding websites invitations are perfectly acceptable. You will still want some sort of headcount to ensure you have enough food and drink.
Invitations to the rehearsal should be sent out within 3 months of the wedding to ensure that guests coming from further can make necessary arrangements.
Are there any formalities to the itinerary of a rehearsal dinner?
These days rehearsals take so many shapes, but there are a few things that should happen:
- Take a few minutes to greet everyone and thank them for attending your wedding festivities and share any important information about the wedding that may be worth repeating, like transportation schedules and family photo shoots
- The host typically gives a speech. Traditionally, the groom’s family hosts the rehearsal, but more and more couples are hosting themselves.
- if the groom’s family is hosting, the groom’s parents would give the first speech, thanking guests and welcoming their new daughter in law
- The couple will then thank each other and their guests
- The couple may opt to hand out attendant gifts at this time
Most importantly, have fun! If the rehearsal dinner is the night before the wedding, remember to not make it a late night, or to imbibe too much – you’ll want to feel fresh for the wedding day!
I say this a lot, but there is not a right or wrong way to approach a wedding rehearsal dinner. The main item you’ll want to consider is the formality of the event and plan accordingly from there. You’ll want to ensure that you book a space that can comfortably accommodate your crowd, and plan for any dietary restrictions. Rehearsal dinners are a wonderful way to kick back with your wedding party prior to the wedding and enjoy some downtime before the hectic wedding day.
By Tarisha Beniprashad
Your bridal party has (hopefully) been at your beck and call throughout the planning of your wedding, and it’s customary to reward their efforts with a token of your appreciation upon the arrival of your big day. We know that it can be pretty tough to choose one item that you think all of your bridesmaids or groomsmen would appreciate, so we’ve come up with a list of a couple different options for bridal party gifts that we think anyone would be happy to receive!. Keep on reading if you’d like to find out about some awesome bridal party favors.
BRIDAL PARTY GIFT IDEAS
Here are some gifts we think your bridesmaids would swoon over:
These babies will be the superheroes of the day for your bridesmaids, and probably for you, too. Easy to fold up and stuff into your clutch, your bridesmaids will be forever thankful when they realize can pull these comfy flats out and finally take off the heels that they’ve been teetering in all day. This is a great option, especially if you’re on budget; we’ve found these Sidekicks Foldable Ballet Flats on Amazon for less than $20!
If your bridesmaids are into makeup, and even if they’re not, there’s no doubt they could use a cute little compact to throw in their purse. Useful when touching up your lipstick on the way to work or taming those frizzies once you get to the office, we’re positive your bridesmaids would appreciate this present. You can find reasonably priced engraveable compacts at Things Remembered.
Jewelry can be a risky choice, since not everyone has the same taste. However, if you choose something that’s simple and very basic, all of your maids will be able to work it into their everyday accessories. That’s why we love the idea of matching bangles- simple, and easy to wear! Kate Spade has some gorgeous Bridesmaid Idiom Bracelets that come in both gold and silver.
You can’ go wrong with a jewelry box. We’re sure most of your bridesmaids could probably use a place to keep their more precious jewelry. You can’t go wrong with this adorable little box from Things Engraved.
PRO TIP: IF YOU CAN GET IT ENGRAVED OR MONOGRAMMED, DO IT. PERSONALIZING YOUR BRIDAL PARTY GIFTS IS A LITTLE STEP THAT’LL SHOW THEM HOW MUCH YOU APPRECIATE THEM.
We’re sure the men in your party would appreciate these ideas:
This is one of the most universal presents you can choose for your groomsmen; at some point or another, we’re sure they’ll need a nice pair of cufflinks. Easy to choose, easy to please. Find different styles of cufflinks to suit your men at Brookstone.
Every groomsmen should have a classic timepiece in their collection. Not to mention, this would be a very dapper accessory for them on your big day! Spruce up the accessory wardrobe of your groomsmen with a classy pocket watch from Things Engraved.
Save your groomsmen from those dreaded bulky wallet bulges by gifting them a trendy money clip or card case. Easy to keep cash or cards handy without having to carry around a full-sized wallet, this would be a phenomenal present that would come in handy during those special occasions. You can find sleek, engravable money clips and card cases at stores like Things Remembered.
Pretty much a jewelry box for boys, we’re positive your groomsmen would find themselves storing their most valuable items in a spiffy valet box from The Wedding Shoppe.
Here are a few more things we think everyone would love:
This option (and the next) are fantastic ideas, especially if you’re having a destination wedding. Passport covers are a small way to make your travels feel a little more luxe. We’ve seen some adorable covers on Etsy!
A personalized leather luggage tag would be the perfect way for your bridal party to easily identify their bags. Getting tags monogrammed with each person’s initials in gold or silver is a cute way to spruce this option up! Check out the options on Shutterfly; you could even add photos to the tags that they offer!
Your hardworking bridal party will definitely deserve a little R&R after your big day, and a fluffy robe would be the perfect relaxation accessory. The Bay has some luxurious robes that you could also get monogrammed.
A classy little flask would be a great gift for your entire bridal party- who doesn’t like to keep a good swig of vodka handy? Things Remembered has some classy designs to choose from.
This list definitely isn’t exhaustive, but we’ve outlined some pretty cute options that we hope will help you on the quest of searching for your perfect bridal party presents. Have you been a part of a bridal party and received an awesome token of appreciation? Think we left out any cool options? Leave us a comment below and let us know!
Whim Event Planning and Design is a team of Toronto wedding planners and day of coordinators specializing in modern romantic weddings for fun, sweet couples. Get in touch with us today to start planning your dream day!