Your Guide to Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette

What you need to know about the last event before your wedding.

The good news is that the guidelines are not quite as strict for the rehearsal dinner as they are for the wedding. Read on to see the correct decorum!

Photo: Vue Photography

wedding rehearsal dinner etiquette for modern brides

With the amount of planning that goes into your nuptials and pre-wedding events, such as the bridal shower and bachelorette party, the rehearsal dinner can be left by the wayside. With the big day so close, it’s hard to get excited for it the way you might for a fête held months earlier. However, particularly if you are having a ceremony rehearsal, the dinner is an important opportunity to thank those closest to you for their help and support of you and your future spouse. Of course, as an event with less attention paid to it, the rules of etiquette are not always as clear. The good news is that the guidelines are not quite as strict for the rehearsal dinner, and what decorum there is has been laid out below. 

- Tradition dictates that the groom’s parents pay, but that’s usually only followed if the bride’s parents pay for the entire wedding. Nowadays, the couple may pay themselves, or both parents may split things down the middle. 
- Usually the event is held the night before the wedding, after the rehearsal. However, if that schedule doesn’t work, you can alter it to a more convenient date.
- You should send invitations after receiving wedding RSVPs, though if the dinner is more intimate and casual, you don’t need to have written invitations. If the event is on the larger and more formal side, you’ll want to be able to have a full head count, which RSVP cards can provide.
- At a minimum, those involved in the ceremony – including the officiant – and their significant others should be invited, along with both of your immediate families. Beyond that, you can extend the invitation to out-of-town guests and more.
- The rehearsal dinner can be in any style you choose, so long as it is not more formal than the wedding.
- Do not have it go too late into the evening, as you all have a big day tomorrow! Plus, if you end on the early side, you can greet your other guests for welcome cocktails.
- There is more freedom for additional toasts than there is at the reception, but speeches should start with the event host.
- Pick a location that will not require much travel, perhaps something close to the hotel where most guests are staying.
- The rehearsal dinner is a good opportunity to present gifts to the wedding party and parents. 

Read a guide on a successful ceremony rehearsal and find out how to make your rehearsal dinner as special as your wedding

Opening photo by Vue Photography