Do Bridesmaids Have to Attend the Rehearsal Dinner?


Jen Glantz is a "Professional Bridesmaid" and the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire. She's the author of All My Friends Are Engaged and frequently wears old bridesmaid dresses to the grocery store and on first dates. For her column, Jen answers a fellow bridesmaid's burning question: Do I have to go to the rehearsal dinner?

Often times when you're an out of town guest, or even a member of the bridal party, it may be quite the schlep to make it to the wedding venue, or even the city that the wedding is taking place in, the night before for the rehearsal dinner. You've been invited and asked by the bride, personally, to be at the rehearsal dinner, but if that means an extra night at a hotel or more expensive airfare to fly in one day early, do you have to find a way to make it work or can you miss it?

A lot of times, people don't understand why there is a rehearsal dinner and for a while, I didn't either. It seemed like another added expense for the couple or their parents to endure, and at times, a second mini-party that they had to throw. All in all, it seemed like a pre-game of stress for the wedding party.

Rehearsal dinners usually come after the rehearsal for the ceremony takes place. That's when you'll practice walking down the aisle and even learn where exactly to stand on the big day, so the lineup of bridesmaids doesn't look like an epic zigzag line. Once the logistics are over, the bride and the groom will invite the wedding party, often along with out of town guests or immediate family members, to a delicious dinner to kick off the wedding celebration.

If extra travel or accommodation costs are going to make it too heavy and hard for you to make it there the night before, it's okay to skip it as long as you do a couple of things. First, be sure to let the bride know ahead of time, not the week or the night before. Let her know the reason why you can't make it so that she'll be at ease. Then, make sure you get together with the maid of honor, or another bridesmaid, to get clued in to anything in particular you need to know about the ceremony, whether it's who you're walking down the aisle with or where you're standing. Try to get to the ceremony venue earlier on the day of the wedding so you can have a mini-rehearsal and find out any and all details that you missed out on the night before.

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