So much time and planning go into your wedding day. And then the day of your wedding rehearsal arrives-the big practice run of your ceremony. But you still need to make sure that you’re smart about planning this event, too, and I have some information to help!
First you need to decide who to invite to the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. The only people you absolutely must invite to the rehearsal are people who are in your wedding and need to be there: you and your fiance, your officiant, your bridal party, and generally your parents and grandparents, too. If you have a planner, you’ll want us there as well, and sometimes whoever is doing your ceremony music wishes to be there (just check in with them about it). Generally anyone at the rehearsal also gets an invite to the rehearsal dinner, along with their significant others (your vendors more than likely will decline the invite to allow it to be a personal affair, although it is always such a sweet gesture!) Sometimes people will also choose to invite out of town guests or other specific close friends or family members: that is entirely up to you and depends on your own wishes, familial expectations, and budget.
For the rehearsal itself, if your venue allows you any input on the time, try to remember that most people will be coming from work on a weekday so try not to have it be too early! You want people to have time to get there but also don’t want it so late that your rehearsal dinner lasts too far into the night. Then your officiant (probably with some help from your planner) will do a practice run of how your wedding will go. Where and when you all will walk, in what order, any important events from the ceremony, etc. Ideally this whole thing (if everyone is on time!) shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes. If you have any last minute questions for your venue (usually someone is there from the location), officiant, planner, etc. about how things will be going on the big day this is the time to ask and clarify!
The rehearsal dinner is usually immediately following the rehearsal, preferably at a nearby location. Make sure to have arrangements with the venue (whether it be a restaurant, hall, etc.) made plenty of time in advance. Hosting the dinner at someone’s home is always a convenient option, as well! It is generally expected that the food at the dinner will be provided/taken care of (this was traditionally done by the groom’s family but today is frequently arranged by the couple, or any combination of parents or family members who wish to contribute). Sometimes people like to include some décor (it’s always a great idea if you use pieces that can be repurposed to decorate at your wedding. For example, you can reuse rehearsal dinner centerpieces on bar tables for the cocktail hour at your reception, or put them on your gift and guestbook tables, etc.) Frequently the couple will make a speech, usually thanking everyone for being involved. If you’re giving gifts to your bridal party (and/or parents) this is oftentimes when that happens. Sometimes family members and bridal party members choose to give toasts/speeches as well, but the wedding reception is usually where the traditional maid of honor and best man speeches happen (that said, if you like the idea of those speeches and don’t want them actually during your reception, this is a great way to make that work!) The only real expectation at a rehearsal dinner is to eat and enjoy yourselves and each other before the big day. Try not to stay up too late (or drink too much), get some sleep, and then wake up refreshed and prepared and ready to get married!