Grooms (and groom’s family), the rehearsal dinner is traditionally your responsibility. While there’s plenty of room in the modern-day wedding for bending or even breaking rules, here’s how to pull your wedding weight while respecting traditional customs.
Send formal invites. Trust us. There’s always a question of “who’s invited and who’s not?” among select extended family and out-of-town guests. And it can get pretty awkward when you’re confronted and have to tell someone they’re not. This is why formal invitations to the rehearsal dinner are standard (no Facebook messages, E-vites or emails, please).
Hint: Send the rehearsal dinner invites after the wedding invites; keep them separate if everyone is not invited to both.
Who’s invited depends on whether it’s a local or destination wedding and financial and schedule considerations. Traditionally, invites are extended to the couple’s parents, grandparents, the wedding party and their spouses or dates, any immediate family not in the wedding party, as well as the officiant and his or her spouse. It’s nice to also invite out-of-town guests and extended family, if your budget permits.
Formal or casual — it’s up to you. The rehearsal dinner is a chance for everyone to have a relaxed get-together before the actual wedding. It can be formal, casual, themed or otherwise, but it’s almost always scheduled right after the rehearsal. It’s best to choose a location nearby the church or ceremony venue.
Give a toast. It is courteous for the host of the rehearsal (either the father of the groom or the groom) to stand and thank guests for coming and the bride’s parents for hosting the wedding. This toast is to be given during dinner, not after. The groom should repeat this action at the reception, thanking the bride’s parents and guests for their love and support.
Hint: If members of your wedding party would like to toast at the rehearsal dinner, the best man should always go first.
Thank-you gifts should be given to the wedding party during the rehearsal dinner. The intimate setting is perfect for presenting your gifts to the groomsmen and bridesmaids — preferably timed with your toast.
Hint: Thank you gifts can also be exchanged beforehand at a shower or party, or prior to the ceremony in private, but gifts should never be handed out at the wedding reception.
5 TOAST DOs & DON'Ts
Do toast. Especially at the rehearsal dinner, a toast from the groom and his family is expected toward the beginning or end of the meal. In any case, something as basic as thanking everyone for coming and professing your love and excitement to the bride is sufficient.
Hint: If wedding party gifts are being exchanged at the rehearsal, giving the gifts after your toast is proper.
Do plan ahead, especially if you know you’re going to be nervous. A prepared speech will save time and make sure you say everything you meant to. It’s also wise to plan out who toasts and when beforehand to minimize confusion.
Don’t be long-winded. Rules about toasting during a rehearsal dinner are more flexible, but in general, keep it short and sweet to give other people plenty of time to toast too. More than three minutes and you’re probably going overboard.
Don’t overindulge. An overly inebriated toast is awkward for everybody. Go light on the libations to prevent any undue embarrassment, and make sure you’re not celebrating on an empty stomach.
Do inject your personality (but don’t get too personal). Engaging toasts often include stories reflecting a close friendship with the bride and groom or anecdotes from their love story. However, bringing up exes or sharing details from the bachelor party is ill-advised.