Rehearsal Dinner Basics

As if planning the wedding isn't enough, you have a rehearsal dinner to plan on top of it! Not to worry ... keeping a mind a few fundamentals about the rehearsal dinner (and it's purpose) will make this event fun to plan, fun to attend, and stress free.

Rehearsal Dinner Basics

Your rehearsal dinner can be formal or casual.  Even if your wedding is a black tie affair, it's perfectly acceptable to host a backyard  BBQ or choose a less formal restaurant for your rehearsal dinner. 

The Guest List
The guests may be limited to the wedding party and immediate family, but it's also acceptable to include extended family, especially those who come from out of town. Budget often dictates whether or not you'll want to include extended family.

If you do have family coming from out of town for the wedding, but you don't have the budget to invite them to the rehearsal dinner, it's a nice gesture to create welcome baskets or packets that are given to them when they arrive at their hotel and check in. The basket might include a personal note from you and the groom thanking them for traveling to the event and letting them know you are looking forward to seeing them at the wedding. Also include a couple bottles of water, a map to the wedding and reception venues, as well a list of  recommended restaurants and things to do in the area.

The Host
The rehearsal dinner is traditionally hosted by the groom's family, however more and more couples are paying for and hosting this event themselves. Whomever hosts the rehearsal dinner (i.e. pays for the event) should have input about the location, menu, and guest list. If you aren't hosting the event yourself, it's important to be respectful of the desires of the person picking up the tab. That said, it's equally important that the host coordinate the rehearsal dinner with the bride and groom, to ensure the style, theme, and sequence of events suits the couple.

The Invitations
The rehearsal dinner is typically held the evening (or afternoon) before the wedding, directly after the ceremony run-through. The rehearsal dinner is a separate event, so you should plan to send separate invitations for the rehearsal dinner. This is typically done shortly after the wedding invitations are sent. The style of the invitation should reflect the style of the event. offers a nice selection of affordable rehearsal dinner invitations.

The Menu
Be creative with your menu for the rehearsal dinner. Going to Greece for your honeymoon? Why not select Greek cuisine and tie in the theme? Was your first date at a pizza joint? Celebrate the rehearsal dinner with gourmet pizza selections! Share the story of the selected menu with your guests. What you want to avoid is repeating the menu selected for your wedding reception. It's okay to complement the reception menu, but the rehearsal dinner should not overshadow it.

The Toasts
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The father of the groom traditionally starts the toasting and welcomes the bride to the family.  The subsequent toasts are informal and do not need to have a specific order. Spontaneity can be fun!  The toasts should begin at the start of dinner to avoid  lasting too late into the evening.  You want everyone to be well rested the day of the wedding and nursing hangovers.

The Photo Gallery / Slideshow
The rehearsal dinner is often the first time the two families come together and have an opportunity to get to know one another. A photo gallery or slideshow can be a great ice-breaker.  It's a fun way for people who may be meeting for the first time to begin a conversation.  It can also be a special surprise for out-of-town guests or extended family members.

The Thank Yous
The rehearsal dinner is the traditional time for the bride and groom to present gifts to the members of the wedding party. Being a part of your bridal party is definitely an honor, but it is also an expense for each member of your bridal party. It is important to thank them appropriately, not only for their support and friendship, but for the time and financial commitment they have made. Bridesmaids gifts and groomsman gifts can be unique to each individual ... you don't have to give everyone in the bridal party the same gift. Personalizing your wedding party gifts makes them more meaningful.  Many couples will also take this time to present thank you gifts to their parents.

Another nice touch you might include is to have the groom go around the room and introduce each member from his side of the "family", and you introduce each member from yours. Include a short anecdote or story about each person and their relationship with you. It's a very special touch for your guests, and it helps everyone get to know one another before the wedding.

Whether formal or casual, the rehearsal dinner is meant to bring the wedding party and those closest to the bride and groom together prior to the wedding. Take the time to help everyone get to know one another and to thank those who have helped with any aspect of your wedding. The wedding day is all about you ... your rehearsal dinner celebrates and thanks them.

~ The Team
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10 Essentials for Getting Ready on Your Big Day

It's Your Wedding Day ... Where to Begin?

Your mind will be racing when you wake up on your wedding day, but all of your preparation before today will make this day a piece of cake. Packing your bags for the honeymoon, confirming hotel reservations and airline reservations, having your license and documentation in order, and preparing payment/tip envelopes for your wedding vendors are tasks that can be completed in the days prior to your wedding. The more you can do in advance of the big day, the easier and less stressful this day will be.

10 Essentials for Getting Ready on THE Big Day
  1. You’ll be excited, so be prepared to start the day early. Go to bed early the night before the wedding (and keep alcohol intake to a minimum). Have an organized plan ready for morning when you wake up. This will keep you from being stressed out right off the bat.
  2. Do your normal work out routine. Don’t start one today if you haven’t been working out, though.  This isn’t the time for changes in your physical routine.
  3. Eat small meals every few hours.  You don’t want to over-eat, but it's important that you DO eat. With the adrenaline of the big day, many brides forget to eat. This can lead to fainting at the altar. Be sure to go light on greasy and fatty foods, white carbs, and foods with potent ingredients like garlic.
  4. If you are a coffee drinker, limit yourself to 1 or 2 cups. You'll get your caffeine fix from this but you won’t get EXTRA jitters.
  5. Have an emergency kit prepared with items you may need throughout the day. This may include extra shoes, super glue (for heel breaks), handy-wipes, lip gloss, antacid, breath mints, extra make-up, hairspray, and water. Be sure a complete list of wedding vendors and their phone numbers are in this emergency kit.
  6. Get ready with your bridesmaids.  This can help you relax, but will also ensure that THEY make it to the wedding one time.
  7. Bring something from home that helps you relax ... a keepsake, a book, or family photo.
  8. Have plenty of tissues with you for smudges or tears. 
  9. Before you put the wedding dress on make sure you visit the ladies’ room.  It’s a much longer process after the dress is on and you don't want to risk getting your dress dirty before the wedding.
  10. If anything unexpected arises delegate the task to another. There WILL be last minute unexpected issues, so just be prepared for it. Have someone you trust take care of these issues so you don’t have to worry about them. Most importantly, arrange this role with the person AHEAD of the big day, so they know they are the go to person and they are ready for it.
Follow these 10 tips and we are certain you will minimize your stress on the big day.

What would you add to this list?  We'd love to hear your ideas!

~ The Team
Take 15% off your entire order at with coupon code WHATBRIDESLOVE, plus get FREE SHIPPING on orders over $100.

Where brides go®  ... for what brides love! For a great selection of affordable wedding supplieswedding accessories, and wedding cake tops, check out!  

For more ideas, wedding favors and accessories, check out!

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