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How to Throw a Rehearsal Dinner

Held a day or two before the wedding, the rehearsal dinner is much more intimate than the wedding reception. Because the guest list for the rehearsal dinner can balloon out of control, and because you don’t want the rehearsal dinner to compete with the wedding itself, you may want to keep the event very informal.

In the past, the bride’s family picked up the tab for the wedding, and the groom’s family paid for the rehearsal dinner. Now the rehearsal dinner cost may be split, depending on other financial arrangements, whom is being invited and whether anyone has arranged an alternative event for other guests whole you are with the wedding party and close family at the rehearsal dinner.

The guest list for the rehearsal or prenuptial dinner can be as complicated as that for the wedding. This gathering may be limited to just the wedding party and close family members. The invitations may be either straightforward or cute. Because many of the guests may not be rehearsing anything, you may invite them to a prenuptial dinner. Making the rehearsal dinner a bit funky can help loosen you up for the big day.

Many people think a rehearsal dinner should mirror that of the wedding itself. Others don’t think the rehearsal dinner should be more formal than the wedding. Another way of looking at it is to make the formality of the dinner the opposite of that of the wedding. For example, if you’re having a barefoot beach wedding, you may want to have a sit-down dinner for your wedding party. If you’re looking to keep costs down, consider holding the dinner at a neighborhood Mexican, Chinese or Italian restaurant or planning a simple barbecue or picnic.

Anyone who wants to give a toast may do so throughout the dinner, but because the groom’s parents typically host the dinner, they’re expected to give a speech and offer the first toast to the couple. The groom should follow, saying a few words of thanks to his parents and the bride’s parents.

Don’t think you have to close down the joint at your rehearsal dinner — everyone will understand if you bow out early to get a good night’s sleep.

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