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Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette

The dinner, the rehearsal the speeches – Oh My!  The event directly preceding the wedding is the rehearsal dinner so you certainly want to do everything you can to make the event run smoothly. To do this, plan a schedule for the evening in advance, as there will be much to cover in only a short period of time. Also, follow these rehearsal dinner etiquette tips so you'll be prepared!

Wedding rehearsal dinner etiquette tips include:

  • Host/Hostess: The responsibility of the rehearsal dinner falls on the groom and his parents. In some cases the bride and groom may plan the dinner instead. It's okay for the happy couple to have a conversation with the groom's parents about what they'd like for their rehearsal dinner, however be prepared for some give and take when it comes to planning the rehearsal dinner.
  • Guest List: Invite parents, siblings, the wedding party and their significant others, out-of-town guests, and the priest, rabbi or justice of the peace to the rehearsal dinner. Include children who are part of the wedding party (flower girl or ring bearer). Extend an invitation to the children of out-of-town guests as well.
  • Date/Timing: Hold the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding. Begin the evening by serving appetizers and cocktails. This will allow time for the wedding party and the rabbi, priest or justice of the peace to arrive at the rehearsal dinner location. The rehearsal of the ceremony is one of the most important parts of the evening. Prepare the wedding party for the wedding ceremony by rehearsing the order each person will walk down the aisle, and where each individual will stand on the stage. Inform the wedding party if they will walk in pairs back down the aisle after the ceremony. For example, the best man and maid-of-honor may walk arm-in-arm back down the aisle after the bride and groom have said their, “I do’s.” Serve dinner after the rehearsal is complete. Begin and end the evening early, as everyone attending the rehearsal dinner will also be attending the wedding the very next day. The bride will appreciate her beauty sleep!
  • Speeches and Toasts: Request that the father-of-the bride or father-of-the-groom makes the speech during or close to the time of the first course (usually salad). Make toasts in between meal courses. The best man or maid-of-honor can consider planning a toast together, or separately, however they are typically responsible for making a toast at the wedding. The bride and groom are encouraged to make a speech thanking family and friends for their love and support throughout the years and during the wedding planning process.
  • Invitations: Proper wedding rehearsal dinner etiquette is to send the invitations within weeks of the wedding invitations. Allow enough time for out-of-town guests to reserve hotel rooms.
  • Gifts: The only gifts expected at the rehearsal dinner, are those for the wedding party. Disperse wedding party gifts to the groom’s best man and groomsmen, along with the bride’s maid-of-honor and bridesmaids. Give gifts to the ring bearer and flower girl as well. Gifts for parents and in-laws are optional. The bride and groom should not expect to receive gifts at the rehearsal dinner, unless the gift is considered an early wedding present.
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