The Rehearsal Dinner, called this because it follows the ceremony rehearsal…aka the test run through. This began as a way to join immediate families of both bride and groom to have them really sit down and get to know one another. With the creativity and flexibility of today’s bride there are new components that may be considered.
The Bridal Party that is handpicked; Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, Flower Girl, Ring Bearer, Ushers, House Party, immediate and close relatives, and any significant others to these individuals are typically invited. Treating these key players prior to the wedding is a wonderful gesture of appreciation. Out of town guests and close friends are also optional additions. My opinion is all out-of-town guests could be greeted with a welcome gift in place of having a large guest list at the rehearsal dinner.
The main goal of the rehearsal dinner is to have bride and groom’s families & friends get to know each other
There are several ways to accomplish this… Some of my favorites are playing games. A little cheesy for some, but with the right group, many guests will walk away with fun memories of the dinner. One example is Icebreaker Cards. You could place a card of questions at each place setting. Questions could range from, “What is your first memory of the bride/groom?” “What is your favorite thing about the bride/groom?” You want to make sure the comments/questions stay positive and you can work with your DJ or venue sound person to provide the designated speaker a microphone to stand and share all that was written as dinner is being served.
Designate those that attend. Whether each guest picks up a certain color nametag designating he/she is from the Bride’s side or the Groom’s side or wearing picture buttons of the bride and groom, you can get creative with designating the crowd. This is an easy way to begin a conversation with someone they just met.
Sit couples by couples whom they may not know. When creating a seating chart, make sure some of the groom’s close friends sit at tables with the bride’s close friends and the same goes with immediate family members. Inter-mix them, and they will carry on conversations at the dinner that will flow into the reception the next day.
It’s key to remember that the Rehearsal Dinner is supposed to encourage conversation, so create an environment where guests feel comfortable
Have a theme. Here in Texas, a casual Bar-B-Que with red and white picnic tablecloths and your guests dressed in their finest boots and cowboy hats is a great way to enjoy the evening. Add a play list of good country music and possible line dance, to get the crowd singing along or helping each other learn a new dance.
Set it up Orient style. Are the guests a fan of Chinese? It’s easy to find paper lanterns or parasols online, see your local grocery store or florist for some orchids, and find fortune cookies to use as favors. Have it at your favorite restaurant, or invite a sushi chef into a private space to make for one unique event.
I have to mention what has to be my favorite idea, personally, and that is host an All American dinner. Whether its baseball or football for you and your guests, it’s fun to invite them out to a local game, and serve them classics like hot dogs, nachos, and pretzels. A bag of Popcorn or Cracker Jacks makes excellent favors. And, have all that attend sign a game ball as your keepsake.
Whatever you choose, the best part is there really doesn’t need to be a set agenda to the Rehearsal Dinner. (Wait, do I want to take that back? Hmm, no we’ll go with that.) You have enough to plan, but keep these key points in mind throughout the dinner, as there is no set time when they must occur, but some will be obvious.
-Have the Father of the Groom, or the host, open with a welcome and or blessing.
-Ask the Bridal party if they want to say a few words
-Ask if anyone else wants to say a few words
This is great since at the reception there are many things that will be happening within the 4-5 hour time frame. Keeping in mind, speeches should be under 2-minutes.
-Bride distributes her bridesmaid’s gifts
-Groom distributes his groomsmen’s gifts
-Bride and Groom should thank those that are helping with their big day
But, the most important part of the evening before your wedding is rest up. You will have a big day ahead of you, and it will move by very quickly. And, Enjoy!