The costs of planning your wedding include more than just those for the day of: You have to take into account everything you might need for your bridal party, your bridal shower and bachelorette party, and, of course, your rehearsal dinner. So how much should you shell out for the night before your big night?
The average cost of a rehearsal dinner is $1,330—about one-thirtieth of the price of the wedding. While some in-laws foot the bill, more couples are paying for it themselves. "You can still have a fun night. You just have to be strategic," says Leslie Lukas, an event planner in Bozeman, Montana.
Lukas adds, "Mexican and Italian are generally bargains. So is a catered picnic at a park or in a backyard. Just don't have it at your own house—you don't want to spend the night before your wedding cleaning."
The most direct way of shrinking your bill, of course, is to cut the guest list. Etiquette gurus will tell you that the only people you must invite are immediate family and the bridal party. But we know plenty of brides who had a simple rehearsal dinner with just their parents—and yes, their attendants still speak to them.
And although you might want to shrink the cost of the rehearsal dinner, you still want it to be a cohesive part of your wedding weekend.
"Think of the rehearsal dinner and the reception as parts of one event—the wedding weekend," says Richard Nix Jr., owner of Butler's Pantry Catering & Events, in St. Louis. Having a formal wedding? Consider complementing it with a more low-key event. A huge trend is to serve up regional comfort foods, like a lobster boil or pig roast. "We threw a Vices of Virginia dinner before a Halloween wedding in The Plains," says Maria Cooke of Ritzy Bee Events, in Washington, D.C. "There were local wines, oysters, bourbon milkshakes, and a cigar roller. It was totally sinful, and guests loved it."