Anyone planning a wedding has a lot of jobs to do that they probably don't normally do. And how to go about this planning can be confusing or overwhelming. The tradition of the rehearsal dinner, for example, is a familiar idea, but not many people may be able to say specifically what is involved in planning one. If you're in this position, here is a handy guide to what you should do at rehearsal dinners.
Make it Unique. Although the rehearsal dinner is part of the official wedding festivities, many couples prefer to give it its own flavor and style. If you're having a traditional, formal wedding, for example, consider switching things up for the rehearsal and host a picnic, a backyard barbecue, or even a bowling party. Planning to serve a fancy beef dish at the reception? Try a baked potato bar or tapas at your favorite restaurant for the rehearsal. Having your wedding catered as a sit-down meal with place settings? Plan a casual dinner at a buffet restaurant or a wine bar, or have fun with a luau or fiesta theme at a family-friendly restaurant.
Start the Party. For most weddings, the rehearsal dinner is the official beginning of the wedding weekend and often occurs shortly after most of the out-of-towners in the party have arrived. So, use this opportunity to get the fun started. The rehearsal dinner is a good time to order a fun groom's cake and show some slides of the happy couple over time. You can get some of the extra toasts out of the way to simplify the reception as well. Keep it light, casual, and fun.
Break the Ice. If you have a lot of guests who aren't closely familiar with each other, use the rehearsal dinner to introduce everyone. If the group is small, simply go around the room before eating and introduce everyone with a very brief mention of what they mean to the bridal couple. Or plan a cocktail hour or party game that helps people mingle freely.
Spend Time. For anyone planning a large wedding, this is the best chance you'll have to mingle and spend time with your core group of loved ones. Although the rehearsal dinner is traditionally just for the wedding party, modern etiquette allows for inviting just about anyone you wish. Ask out-of-town guests to come so you can spend time with them before you leave on your honeymoon. You can free up time both before and during the rehearsal dinner by having it catered or hosted at your favorite restaurant. This will help you have more time to spend with your loved ones.
If you plan your rehearsal dinner with one, two, or all four of these goals in mind, you will end up with a great pre-wedding party that everyone will love—especially you and your partner.