What Exactly Happens at a Rehearsal Dinner?

Etiquette, Showers & Parties
Rehearsal Dinner Tips

Photo: Amber Gress

Wedding rehearsals are an important necessity: Practicing getting down the aisle in order will make sure you're all on your A-game come wedding day! The other benefit? Rehearsals are followed by rehearsal dinners! This "party before the party" kicks off your wedding weekend, but what else is supposed to happen? Our experts weigh in on what goes down at a rehearsal dinner.

While the type of rehearsal dinner you have, from a formal sit-down dinner to a backyard bbq, is up to you, there are a few things that you should make sure to add to the timeline. The first, of course, is to eat! Whether you're having dinner with just your immediate families or inviting the entire guest list for a pre-wedding feast, it wouldn't be a rehearsal dinner without, well, dinner.

The rehearsal dinner is also a great time to distribute gifts to your wedding party and your parents if you aren't planning to do so on your wedding day. You'll be in a smaller crowd and a have little more time to spare to hand out and open gifts.

Another rehearsal dinner mainstay is toasts. Usually the hosts of the event will kick things off, followed by the groom toasting his bride and her family. You could also stand up together and offer a more personal toast to your families and wedding party at this time.

Want to limit who is speaking on your actual wedding day? Cut down on mic time during your reception by scheduling some of the toasts during the rehearsal dinner, whether it's a free-for-all or a set list of who you'd like to have speak. For anyone who may want to present a roast instead of a toast, the rehearsal dinner is the more appropriate venue for some good-natured fun.

Now on to dessert. Traditionally, the groom's cake is served during the rehearsal dinner, as well. Of course you can serve it alongside the wedding cake on your wedding day, but every good party needs something sweet!

The most important part of a rehearsal dinner is the chance it offers for both of your families to spend a little more time together before your wedding day arrives. Encourage people to mix and mingle, and take the opportunity yourselves to squeeze in a little quality time with people you haven't seen in awhile.

And before everyone heads home for the night, make sure to give them a quick refresher on the next day's schedule, including any important timeline details or last-minute changes.

See More: 22 Festive 4th of July Wedding Ideas

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