Wedding Rehearsals - Your Rehearsal Dinner


The Rehearsal Dinner
by Kathryn Lemmon

Over the years, the rehearsal for a wedding ceremony has actually become two separate events, a practice session and a dinner party afterwards. Here's a primer on the rehearsal dinner.

Who: The rehearsal dinner guest list should include immediate family, (parents and siblings) wedding-party members and any spouses and significant others and the parents of any child attendants. You should invite the officiant and his/her spouse to the dinner, as well. If you have out-of-town guests who have already arrived for the wedding, you can invite them to the dinner portion of the evening. On the other hand, if you'd rather the rehearsal dinner be an intimate affair, but don't want to leave other guests hanging, think about doing the rehearsal two nights before the wedding day, on Thursday for example. That way you could have a party for the out-of-town guests on the Friday night.

What: The wedding rehearsal and the dinner which follows is a practice party traditionally hosted by the groom's parents, but these days can be hosted by anyone. Although a formal rehearsal of the ceremony is not mandatory, most officiants will want to take a quick a run through the service with the bride and groom, their parents, the wedding party and any readers/singers. The officiant will want to give everyone their cues for the next day.

After the rehearsal, everyone gathers for a celebration dinner, where the bride and groom are "roasted and toasted." In addition, the dinner provides an excellent opportunity for the bride to hand out her attendants thank-you gifts. The couple should present their parents (or anyone else who was an important part of the wedding process) with a token of appreciation. Numerous toasts are usually part of the rehearsal dinner.

When: Generally, this event is on the eve of the wedding, however it could be anytime during that day, as in morning, noon, or evening.

Where: Ideally, you should do the rehearsal at the wedding site. It would be especially valuable if there are children in the wedding party. Sometimes however, the requirements of the site do not make a rehearsal feasible. A rehearsal can be done in someone's home, or in just about any large space.

Why: Primarily this is an opportunity to practice and become familiar with the ceremony site. But the rehearsal dinner also lets your two families get to know one another in a more casual atmosphere. In this setting, the bride and groom are under less pressure and have more time to chat with relatives.

How: Begin your rehearsal by calling the entire wedding party together. Line them up in the order they will stand during the ceremony. If you are missing one or several members, don't be overly concerned. Just be sure to line everyone up and leave a space for the missing person (s). You can ask those who are on either side of the missing person to cue him or her the next day.

Once everyone knows where they are to stand, practice the Recessional. Bride and groom leave first, followed by any children in the wedding party (first flower girls, then ringbearers) then, maid of honor/bestman, followed by pairs of bridesmaids and groomsmen. After the wedding party has "recessed" the immediate family members should follow.

After practicing the Recessional, regroup to practice the Processional. By this time everyone knows where they are to stand and who they are next to.

One of the best things about a rehearsal dinner is how relaxed it can be. From a pool side barbecue to a formal sit-down affair, there are no hard and fast rules for the rehearsal dinner. While the excitement and stress of the big day may loom before you, this event lets you enjoy quality time with loved ones.


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