Of all the prenuptial events, the rehearsal dinner retains its importance to this day. Some modern couples do choose to forgo it (especially if they’re having a small wedding), but for the most part it’s considered a must ahead of your big day. The rehearsal dinner serves more than one purpose. Not only does it give you a chance to do a practice run-through of your ceremony, but you also can enjoy some social time with your friends and family, which is something that you might not have the time for on the actual day of the wedding. So, in order to make the most of your rehearsal dinner, there are several dos and don’ts to keep in mind to assure that things go as perfectly as possible.
DO: Think Twice About Your Guest List
Your rehearsal dinner guest list doesn’t need to match your day-of guest list. It’s best to limit it to everyone involved in the bride’s and groom’s parties and/or your closest friends and family. In some circles, it’s normal to invite anyone who is coming from out of town as a thank you for making the effort to travel. You can also give your single guests a bit more leeway with plus-ones if your budget allows, especially if they’re not given the option for the day-of ceremony and reception.
DO: Provide Instructions
As with the actual wedding, you should issue proper invitations with details about where to go, what to wear, what food will be served, and where to be at what time. An outline of the day’s schedule will give guests an idea of what’s to come and make the day go smoother.
Don’t overthink the rehearsal dinner too much—it shouldn’t match or overshadow your reception. So, there’s no need to overspend on the event or make it extra fancy. In fact, if you’re having a more formal reception, it’s recommended to tone it down to something casual for the rehearsal.
DO: Give Back
Speaking of gifts…the rehearsal dinner is a great opportunity to thank your bridesmaids, groomsmen, parents, and all those who help make your wedding day happen. Without breaking the bank, prepare a few gifts. If either of your parents paid for the rehearsal or the wedding itself, it’s worth it to put a little more effort into your thank you present.
DO: Have a Photographer
Even though it’s only a rehearsal dinner, there will be plenty of memorable moments you’ll want to keep on record. It’s advisable to hire a photographer or at least have a friend who’s good with the camera to record the highlights throughout the evening.
DON’T: Forget the Kids
If you’re having an adult-only wedding, you are not required to invite children to your rehearsal, either. But if you choose to, it’s polite to provide some sort of childcare services and activities so that the adults can enjoy the evening. To keep the little ones busy, some couples also arrange for small gifts that will keep them occupied throughout the evening. In addition, make sure your menu includes kid-friendly food and drinks.
DO: Save Time for Toasts and Speeches
Since your wedding reception will be busy, you’ll likely be limiting who can give toasts and speeches on the day of. Therefore, if you want to offer other guests the opportunity to voice their congratulations, the rehearsal dinner is the optimal time to do so. In this case, allow enough time for those who wish to speak to hold the mic. Keep in mind that a few individuals such as the father of the bride and/or groom, as well as the maid of honor and the best man, are definitely expected to say something.
DO: End Things Early
This is ultra important if your actual wedding happens the day after the rehearsal. No one wants to be tired before the big celebration. So, make sure to call it quits at a reasonable hour. Ideally, 10 pm is the latest you should stay up. In addition, don’t overdo it on the alcohol if you want to look your best and avoid a hangover the next day. If you’re prone to party hard and worried things may get a bit crazy, it’s safer to schedule your rehearsal dinner a couple of days or the weekend before the wedding. There’s a bonus to doing so as well—should you figure out there are some hiccups, you’ll have a bit of extra time to fix things.