Most officiants/ministers prefer if the entire wedding party, immediate family, and others involved in the ceremony gather the day before the wedding to rehearse the ceremony. So why not all gather for dinner afterwards? Thus the tradition of the rehearsal dinner was born!
The groom’s family is the traditional host and remains so. Today, many couples host the party themselves or help their families with the cost.
Who to invite?
While there are no set rules, the rehearsal dinner almost always includes the bride’s family and the groom’s family, all members of the wedding party, the officiant/minister, and special friends. Modern tradition calls for inviting all out of town guests out of respect for the distance they have traveled. If you are doing a destination wedding then everyone is an out of town guest and the guest list is far more dependent upon budget.
Send out rehearsal dinner invitations after the wedding invitations are sent. These are usually far less formal. For very small rehearsal dinners, a note card or phone call might even suffice.
Style and venue ideas
A rehearsal dinner is the ideal time for family and friends to mingle before the wedding and get to know each other. Accordingly the style of your dinner should allow for interaction and conversation! The dinner itself can be completely different from the look of your wedding, and the venue will depend on the size of the guest list and of course, budget. Popular venues include country clubs, restaurants, and hotels.
This is a wonderful opportunity to play up your geographic location by highlighting local cuisine or tradition. New England clambakes, Wisconsin fish fries, Texas BBQ, Northwest Salmon, or California wine and cheese menus are all great examples of regional cuisines.
In keeping with the spirit of getting to know each other, provide your guests with nametags. Have them add their relationship to the bride and groom to help everyone put faces to names. Many couples arrange for a photo slideshow or funny home videos to be shown during or after the meal. This is also a great time, amongst close friends and family, for roasts and toasts. Set time aside for speeches and make sure your venue has the proper set up for any microphones or video projectors you need. For music, unless a band or DJ is in the budget, create a mellow playlist on your iPod.
What to wear?
The dress code will of course depend on the venue and style of meal. Brides often choose to wear a short white dress on this occasion. If you are hosting a themed event consider a dress code as well. Guests always relax a little when everyone is getting a bit ridiculous!
Thank your hosts for the event, your families for their support, and the guests for attending in a short speech during the event. Save the longer more emotional toasts for the wedding reception, but this is a great chance to tell funny stories about your adventures in wedding planning or other anecdotes about your road to marriage.
Good Bye Brunch
The goodbye brunch, as the name implies, is a brunch held the morning after your wedding to allow guests and the newly married couple to say goodbye. We love this tradition! It’s a great time to say hello to anyone you might have missed in the frenzy of the reception, gossip about all the loveliness from the night before, and say goodbye to dear friends and family you might not see again for some time.
There are no set rules for the host, but the costs should be considered in the overall wedding budget and allocated for beforehand.
The goodbye brunch is a casual and relaxed affair. Guest may not be able to all attend at the same time so a buffet hosted over the course of a few hours is a wonderful option and allows people to come and go as needed. As many guests will be traveling that same day and rolling out of bed after lots of dancing do not expect formal attire.
Who to invite?
At destination weddings all guests should be invited to the goodbye brunch. Not traveling to get hitched? Invite those who attended the rehearsal dinner or splurge and invite the whole wedding guest list!