Rehearsal dinner parties are a wedding tradition. Etiquette dictates that the groom's parents should host this event, allowing the groom's mother the opportunity to entertain wedding guests. However, more couples are paying for their own weddings or families are choosing to help share expenses. Generally speaking, whoever pays for the dinner should have the deciding factor in rehearsal dinner details.

The following outlines general rehearsal dinner etiquette, making it easy for families, friends, brides and grooms everywhere to know what is expected.

  • Invites - Close family, friends and people participating in the wedding should be invited to the rehearsal dinner. This may include bridesmaids, ushers, flower girls, groomsmen and ring bearers. However, in some cultures, it's customary to invite everyone who is invited to the wedding to the rehearsal dinner.
  • Planning - Three to six months prior to the wedding, couples should begin planning the rehearsal dinner party.
  • Location - There is no set rehearsal dinner location. Rehearsal dinner can be held at restaurants, in private rooms, in karaoke bars or at wedding venues.
  • Dessert - Instead of serving the same dessert planned for the wedding, rehearsal dinner parties give guests the opportunity to try an assortment of sweet, sugary masterpieces. If the wedding cake is a traditional white cake with raspberry filling, opt for a decadent chocolate dessert for the rehearsal dinner.
  • Invitations - Rehearsal dinner invitations should be distributed four weeks prior to the wedding. This invitation is separate from the wedding invitation and the two should never be included together. Rehearsal dinners and weddings are two separate events and should be treated as such. Since rehearsal dinners are less formal than weddings, couples may opt to embrace their creative sides by exploring unique themes, dramatic colors or fun-filled menus.
  • Ideas - Rehearsal dinners can embrace unique themes. This is a time for couples to make an event personal. Whether it's sharing stories, a special location, a favorite restaurant or a slideshow, this intimate gathering is perfect for close friends and family that enjoy performing or being emcees. Some couples choose to add ethnic flair to these events, serving customary foods from both backgrounds. Foodies can also embrace the rehearsal dinner as an opportunity to go all out with five-star dining. With a smaller group, these outings can be more affordable than hosting a wedding at a top-notch, swanky and trendy restaurant. Casual rehearsal dinners often include backyard barbecues, giving families an opportunity to meet one another and mingle.

Whatever type of rehearsal dinner meets couples' fancies, having fun and enjoying friends and family is an integral journey for couples as they prepare to join their lives together.

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