Planning your rehearsal dinner usually takes a back seat to the wedding and all the other details you’re planning! Plus, it typically falls to the groom and his family to plan the rehearsal dinner. If you need some help navigating the etiquette and answering the tough questions about it, let us help!
Who pays for the rehearsal dinner? Traditionally, the groom’s family pays for and coordinates the rehearsal dinner, but of course, each situation is different.
Who should you invite to the rehearsal dinner? Do I need to invite my pastor and/or out of town guests? You should invite everyone in the wedding party and their significant others/spouses and children, as well as the parents of the flower girl and ring bearer. Beyond that, extend invitations to your pastor and any out of town guests who would be dining on their own otherwise. Don’t feel like you need to invite 50+ relatives, but if there a handful of families who would otherwise have no plans for dinner, consider inviting them to join in the fun.
How far out should you plan your rehearsal dinner? How far out should you send invitations? You should send your rehearsal dinner invitations 1-2 months before the date, and can begin planning it as early as you can (especially if you’re trying to book a busy restaurant or make reservations on a Friday night). Hitch Studio designed invitations for one couple where one side of the card was an invitation to the rehearsal dinner the evening before the wedding, and on the flip side was an invitation to the gift opening/brunch the morning after the wedding. They chose to send both invitations on one card to the same group of people. It saved postage and hassle.
What type of location should I choose for my rehearsal dinner? Choose a location that fits your style as a couple, but is a bit more casual than your wedding venue and food selection, so you don’t upstage your big day. A backyard barbecue for yard games and grilling? A high-end restaurant for seafood and a great wine selection? A place where you could offer some specialty or cultural foods? A lake house property for pontoon rides and beautiful scenery? Make sure the location fits your budget, the size of your group and has a private room if you choose.
How fancy do you need to get for the meal? Do you need dessert? The meal can carry a more comfortable and casual feeling compared to your wedding day meal. Guests will never be offended by offering desserts. Love is sweet, right? The rehearsal dinner is the perfect place for a family member to serve his/her famous cheesecake— or grandma’s secret-recipe chocolate chip cookies. Everything can be a bit more personal.
Are speeches given at the rehearsal dinner? If so, by whom?It’s a wonderful courtesy for the couple to thank everyone for attending. Each set of parents and grandparents also has the opportunity to give a nice speech if they wish. Again, the evening doesn’t have to be formal, but can carry a fun and heartfelt tone. This is also the perfect time for friends to share stories who may not otherwise get the opportunity at the actual wedding.
When is the right time to give gifts to the bridal party? Does anyone else get gifts? The rehearsal dinner is the perfect time to give gifts to the bridal party — mostly because it’s often gifts they’ll use the next day (jewelry, flasks…you know, the essentials). The couple can also give gifts to the parents and any step-parents, flower girls, ring bearers, personal attendants, and anyone else they wish.
What are some ideas for the cocktail situation? Can I have a cash bar? We here in the Midwest have blurred this etiquette rule a bit, but generally, any hosted private party should be just that — hosted bar as well. It’s perfectly acceptable to set a “hosted menu” of drink items that are fully covered (like beer, soda and wine) and leave other items (like liquor, shots and specialty wines) as a cash bar.
Why do we have rehearsal dinners? Rehearsal dinners are a nice way to gather together both families for a relaxed celebration after the wedding ceremony rehearsal. The intention for these dinners is to allow any family members or members of the wedding party who haven’t met to do so. It’s a great way for the couple to truly thank the bridal party and family for being a part of your special day. Plus, who doesn’t love a pre-party to the biggest day of their life?
What are some good places in Brookings, SD to have your rehearsal dinner? There are a lot of great places, but for a bit of privacy and outstanding food, Hitch Studio recommends reserving the veranda at the Old Market, the Summit Room at the Ram downtown, catering by HyVee or Backyard BBQ Grill to your tent/back yard/outdoor dinner, or restaurants like Whiskey Creek, Craft Italian Fusion, and Italian Garden are all great options as well.
Have other questions? Comment below and we’re happy to answer them!
One more highlight for you. 🙂 The amazing ladies at Dainty Obsessions (the leading Midwest high-end magazine and e-zine for weddings) featured Hitch Studio in its latest blog! We highly recommend subscribing to their magazine and seeing the hottest trends in the Midwest, including photos of real weddings from South Dakota, Minnesota and the surrounding states.
Together, Dainty Obsessions and Hitch Studio styled a photo shoot of a rehearsal dinner in Brookings, SD. Take a look at the table styling and invitation design that Hitch designed.
Vendor List for this photo shoot:
Styling/Stationery: Hitch Studio | Venue/Catering/Cake: Old Market Eatery + Bake Shoppe + Bar | Florals: The Flower Mill | Copper Mugs: Carrot Seed Kitchen