Etiquette for your Wedding Rehearsal & Rehearsal Dinner!
Posted on 24 February 2017
I often get asked about who should be invited to the Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner, what are their roles, who pays, do we do speeches and more – so this week here are some guidelines to help you navigate through the day & evening before your wedding day!
Anyone who will be participating in the wedding should attend the ceremony rehearsal, including:
- Wedding Couple
- Whoever is escorting the Bride / Groom
- Officiant (Wedding Planner can stand in)
- Parents of the Wedding Couple
- All of the Wedding Party including Ushers
- Readers or Soloists
- Ceremony Musicians (this is not always necessary)
Grandparents and very close members of the family may also attend along with parents of any flower girls or ring bearers.
Distant family, significant others of members of the wedding party and anyone else with no role in the wedding should not attend the rehearsal as this could cause distractions
Always ensure there is enough time between the end of the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner to enable those involved to either drive home or to the hotel to pick up their family members/significant others.
Time of the Rehearsal
In order to allow for any guests traveling from afar, and for guests who are working to complete a days’ work, the rehearsal should be planned for late in the afternoon, usually 4.00 pm or 5.00 pm the day before the wedding.
- The wedding couple should give direction to the wedding planner as to what they want to rehearse in advance of the rehearsal and then let the wedding planner direct the rehearsal. Giving further instructions during the rehearsal confuses those participating.
- Participants need to arrive 15 minutes prior to the rehearsal.
- Participants should arrive sober and be seated ready for direction (this is not a time for pre-party socializing).
- The rehearsal will include: music, processional, handover of the bouquet, removal of the veil, recessional, release of pews
- The rehearsal should be performed twice.
When & Where
- The rehearsal dinner is usually held directly after the rehearsal in a location convenient to both the ceremony and out-of-town guests’ hotel rooms.
- The rehearsal dinner should NOT be held at the same location as the wedding reception.
- Whoever is hosting the rehearsal dinner should take extreme care not to outdo the wedding reception.
- It is acceptable to put a time limit on the evening to avoid everyone from being exhausted the next day, however it is preferable to have someone other than the hosts suggest that the evening end.
- The focus of the evening should be to relax and have everyone get together before the big day.
Usually the grooms parents host the rehearsal dinner, although this can be flexible. Anyone or any combination of people can host the dinner, even the wedding couple.
- The Entire Wedding Party (without spouses/significant others if they are all local or with spouses/significant others if they are from out of town)
- Immediate Family Members (Parents, Siblings & significant others)
- Out-of-town Guests (this will also depend on if you are having a destination wedding)
- The Officiant (flexible)
- Wedding Planner (flexible)
Distant relatives and close friends may or may not be included according to the hosts’ wishes and budget.
- These should be in the same style as the formality of the wedding, however they should not exceed the formality of the wedding invitations.
- If the rehearsal dinner is a more casual affair, then the invitations can be given by telephone or e-mail.
- The invitations should go out 4 weeks prior to the wedding.
A rehearsal dinner should be conducive to ‘mingling’, therefore it is good to start with a stand-up cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres.
Everyone should have an assigned seat as the rehearsal dinner will include toasts and speeches.
The rehearsal dinner in not classed as a ‘party’ as such, therefore background music is preferable. However pianists, string quartets, and jazz bands etc are also fine.
- The first toast is generally given by the hosts, usually the grooms father, the grooms mother may also offer a toast or words of welcome.
- Anyone at the rehearsal dinner may also make speeches if they so wish including the wedding couple.
- The toasts should be made only during dinner, and should not drag on endlessly – they should never be risqué or embarrassing.
- A microphone needs to be available for speeches and toasts.