Who Should Be Invited to a Wedding Rehearsal Dinner: A Guide to Proper Etiquette

Wedding rehearsal dinners can be a tricky affair to plan. From choosing the menu to deciding on the seating arrangement, several factors come into play while organizing a perfect pre-wedding event. But one key detail that often gets overlooked is the guest list. Who should be invited to a wedding rehearsal dinner? It’s a question that perplexes many couples, causing confusion and frustration.

To set the stage for a successful wedding rehearsal dinner, it’s important to understand the purpose of the event. The dinner serves as an opportunity for the wedding party, including the immediate family, bridesmaids, groomsmen, and the wedding officiant, to run through the final details of the ceremony. It’s a chance to ensure everything runs smoothly on the big day. Typically held the night before the wedding, the rehearsal dinner is a great way for everyone to unwind and socialize before the chaos of the wedding day sets in.

While the primary focus of a wedding rehearsal dinner is on the wedding party, there are several other people who may be included on the guest list. Close family members who are not in the wedding party, such as grandparents, siblings, and aunts and uncles, as well as out-of-town guests who have traveled far to attend the wedding, can also be invited to the rehearsal dinner. Ultimately, the decision is up to the couple, and they should prioritize inviting those who are most important to them and their families. With the right guest list, the wedding rehearsal dinner can be a fun and relaxing event that sets the stage for a beautiful, stress-free wedding day.

The Purpose of a Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

A wedding rehearsal dinner is a special event that happens a day or two before the actual wedding day. It’s a pre-wedding occasion that allows the couple and their families to get together and rehearse the wedding ceremony. Its main purpose, however, is not just limited to a rehearsal. The dinner allows for the couple to spend time with their guests and loved ones. Here are the main reasons why hosting a wedding rehearsal dinner is essential:

  • Bonding Time: The wedding rehearsal dinner is a great opportunity for the couple to thank their family and friends for their support and love. It provides a relaxed atmosphere for the couple and their loved ones to bond ahead of the wedding day.
  • Pre-Wedding Jitters: Hosting a wedding is no small feat, and nerves can run high. A wedding rehearsal dinner can provide a much-needed moment for the couple to relax and ease their pre-wedding jitters before the big day.
  • Logistical Planning: The wedding rehearsal dinner allows all the primary parties involved — the couple, family, and close friends — to come together, go over any last-minute details, and plan any logistical matters, ensuring the wedding day goes smoothly.

It’s important to note that although the dinner is called a “wedding rehearsal dinner,” the actual rehearsal shouldn’t take up too much time. The main focus is to create a warm and pleasant time for the couple and their loved ones to bond and prepare for the big day.

What to consider when creating a guest list

Creating a guest list for your wedding is one of the most significant decisions you’ll make during the planning process. Deciding on who to invite, and in some cases, who not to invite, can be a daunting task. To create a list that meets your needs, here are some factors to consider:

  • Your budget: The number of guests you invite directly affects your budget. So, determine how many guests you can afford to invite before making the list.
  • The size of the venue: The size of the wedding venue should guide you when creating your guest list. You don’t want to invite more guests than the venue can comfortably hold.
  • Your vision for the wedding: Consider the type of wedding you want to have and the mood you’re going for. If you’re aiming for an intimate or relaxed atmosphere, then consider keeping the guest list small.

Inviting Out-of-Town Guests

If you have guests traveling from outside of the city or country, it’s courteous to invite them to the rehearsal dinner. They’ve made an effort to attend your wedding, and this a great way to show them appreciation. Plus, it’s an excellent opportunity for them to meet the other guests before the big day.

Another important aspect to consider is who is hosting the rehearsal dinner. Traditionally, the groom’s parents host the rehearsal dinner if the bride’s parents are paying for the wedding. Alternatively, the bride’s parents can choose to host the rehearsal dinner.

Hosts Guests to Invite
The groom’s parents The bridal party, immediate family members, and out-of-town guests.
The bride’s parents The bridal party, immediate family members, and out-of-town guests.

If you’re hosting the rehearsal dinner yourself, keep in mind that it’s an opportunity for you to thank your guests for being a part of your journey.

Etiquette for inviting out-of-town guests

When it comes to inviting out-of-town guests to your wedding rehearsal dinner, there are a few etiquette rules to keep in mind. These guests have likely traveled a long way to attend your wedding, so it’s important to make them feel welcome and included in all of the festivities.

  • Include them: The first rule of etiquette for inviting out-of-town guests to your wedding rehearsal dinner is to actually invite them. It may seem obvious, but make sure you are clear about when and where the rehearsal dinner will take place and who is invited. You don’t want any confusion that could make your guests feel left out or unwelcome.
  • Provide travel information: Be sure to include information about accommodations and transportation in your wedding invitations so your out-of-town guests can make the necessary arrangements. You may also want to consider providing a list of local attractions or activities they can enjoy during their stay.
  • Offer a welcome gift: A small welcome gift can go a long way in making your out-of-town guests feel appreciated. Consider offering a basket of local goodies or a personalized note to make them feel special and welcome.

But what about out-of-town guests who are not part of the wedding party or close family members? Are they still invited to the rehearsal dinner?

The answer is: it depends. While it’s not necessary to invite every out-of-town guest to the rehearsal dinner, it’s a nice gesture to include those who have played a significant role in your life. For example, if you have a childhood best friend who traveled far to attend your wedding, it’s a good idea to invite them to the rehearsal dinner as a way of saying “thank you” for their support.

Here’s a table summarizing who to invite to the rehearsal dinner:

Who to Invite Who Not to Invite
Wedding party Acquaintances
Close family members Distant relatives
Close friends Coworkers or business associates
Out-of-town guests with a special connection Guests who did not RSVP to the rehearsal dinner

Ultimately, the decision of who to invite to your wedding rehearsal dinner is up to you and your partner. Just remember to be inclusive and gracious throughout the wedding planning process, especially when it comes to your out-of-town guests.

Including bridal party members and their plus-ones

When it comes to who should be invited to the wedding rehearsal dinner, it’s generally expected that all members of the bridal party and their plus-ones should be included. The rehearsal dinner is a time for the bride, groom, and their respective families to thank the wedding party for their support and celebrate the upcoming big day.

It’s important to remember that not all members of the wedding party will have a plus-one, and some may be choosing to bring a friend instead of a romantic partner. As the host of the rehearsal dinner, it’s important to clarify with them who they are bringing and if they need any accommodations.

Who should be included in the bridal party group?

  • The maid of honor
  • The best man
  • Bridesmaids
  • Groomsmen
  • Flower girls and ring bearers (if applicable)
  • The officiant (if they are a close friend or family member)

Should the plus-ones of bridal party members be invited?

In most cases, it’s expected that the plus-ones of bridal party members should be invited to the rehearsal dinner. It’s a nice gesture to recognize the support and commitment of their partners, and it also helps to make the event more enjoyable and festive. However, if you are trying to keep the guest list small or on a budget, you can invite only the bridal party members themselves.

How to handle single bridal party members without a plus-one?

If a bridal party member is single and not bringing a plus-one, make sure to extend an invitation that makes them feel comfortable and included. You can ask them if there is a friend they would like to bring or make arrangements for them to sit with a friendly group. It’s also important to make sure they don’t feel pressured to bring anyone if they don’t want to.

Sample seating arrangement for bridal party members and their plus-ones

Bride’s Party Groom’s Party
Bride Groom
Maid of Honor
and plus-one
Best Man
and plus-one
and plus-one
and plus-one
and plus-one
and plus-one
and plus-one
and plus-one

It’s a good idea to seat the bridal party together at the rehearsal dinner to promote a feeling of camaraderie and togetherness. Including the plus-ones at the same table is also a nice gesture to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Should extended family members be invited?

When it comes to deciding who to invite to the wedding rehearsal dinner, determining whether or not to include extended family members can be a bit tricky. It ultimately depends on your personal preferences and your family dynamic. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Relationship: How close are you with your extended family members? If they play a significant role in your life and you see them often, it would be appropriate to invite them to the rehearsal dinner.
  • Size of the wedding: Consider the guest list and the overall size of the wedding. If it’s a smaller, more intimate affair, including extended family members may be more appropriate. However, if it’s a larger wedding, you may want to limit the number of guests to close family members and bridal party only.
  • Budget: The wedding rehearsal dinner can be an additional expense, so you’ll need to consider your budget. If you’re working with a tight budget, you may need to limit the number of guests, including extended family members.

Ultimately, the decision to invite extended family members to the rehearsal dinner is up to you. If you do decide to invite them, make sure to include them in all the communication and planning leading up to the event so they feel included and valued.

Inviting Parents and Grandparents

Parents and grandparents are special guests that are almost always invited to any wedding rehearsal dinner. It is an opportunity to gather family members, share stories, and bond before the big day. But deciding who exactly to invite can be a little tricky. Here are a few things to consider when deciding who to include:

  • Immediate family: This is a given. Your parents and your partner’s parents should be invited. If you have siblings, you may choose to include them as well.
  • Step-parents: If you or your partner have step-parents, you should take time to consider whether or not to invite them. It’s always nice to extend the invitation, but if the relationship is strained, it may not be the best decision.
  • Extended family: Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are often invited to the rehearsal dinner as well. This can be a great time for family members who haven’t seen each other in a while to catch up and enjoy each other’s company before the wedding.

When deciding who to invite, it’s important to remember that the wedding rehearsal dinner is intended to be an intimate gathering. You don’t want to invite so many people that it loses its personal feel. Use your best judgment when deciding who to include.

If you have a large family, creating a seating chart can help to make the rehearsal dinner feel more organized and less chaotic. Here’s an example of a simple seating chart:

Table 1 Table 2 Table 3
Bride’s parents Groom’s parents Bride’s grandparents
Bride’s siblings Groom’s siblings Bride’s aunts/uncles
Bride’s cousins Groom’s cousins Bride’s friends
Groom’s friends Wedding party Officiant

Remember, the rehearsal dinner is meant to be a special occasion to celebrate with those closest to you before the wedding. Including parents and grandparents can add a touch of family warmth and love to the festivities, making it a truly unforgettable experience.

How to Handle Unexpected Guests or Plus-Ones

Wedding rehearsal dinners are intimate gatherings where close family members, bridal party, and out of town guests come together to share a pre-wedding meal. However, sometimes unexpected guests or plus-ones show up, and it can put a strain on the bride and groom’s budget and seating arrangements. Here are some tips on how to handle unexpected guests or plus-ones:

  • Be Clear on the Invitations: When sending out the rehearsal dinner invitations, make sure to specify who is invited. If it’s only for the bridal party and immediate family members, then make that clear on the invitation. If guests are allowed to bring a plus-one, then indicate that on the invitation with an RSVP deadline. This way, guests will know in advance if they can bring someone or not.
  • Have a Plan B: In case unexpected guests or plus-ones show up, have a backup plan in place. Talk to the venue in advance about the maximum number of guests they can accommodate, and have a few extra seats available just in case. You can also ask a trusted friend or family member to be the designated point person for handling unexpected guests. This person can discreetly handle any issues that arise during the dinner.
  • Be Firm but Polite: If an unexpected guest or plus-one shows up, be firm but polite. Explain that the rehearsal dinner is an intimate gathering and is only for close family members and the bridal party. Offer an apology and suggest a nearby restaurant where they can have dinner instead. It’s essential to be polite and gracious when turning someone away, even if they’re being difficult.

Handling unexpected guests or plus-ones at a wedding rehearsal dinner can be challenging, but it’s essential to be prepared for any eventuality. By being clear on the invitations, having a backup plan in place, and being firm but polite, you can ensure that the rehearsal dinner goes as smoothly as possible.

FAQs: Who Should Be Invited to a Wedding Rehearsal Dinner?

1. Is the wedding rehearsal dinner just for the wedding party?

While the wedding party is typically invited to the rehearsal dinner, it’s not mandatory. You can include close family and friends, too.

2. Should we invite out-of-town guests?

It’s a nice gesture to invite out-of-town guests, but not required. If budget or space is an issue, focus on those who will be in the wedding ceremony.

3. What about parents of the couple, do they get invited?

Yes, typically both sets of parents are invited to the rehearsal dinner.

4. Can we invite our officiant to the rehearsal dinner?

Yes, inviting the officiant to the rehearsal dinner is a nice way to show your appreciation and get to know each other better.

5. Should we invite children?

It depends on your preference and the tone you want to set for the rehearsal dinner. If children are invited to the wedding, it’s appropriate to include them in the rehearsal dinner.

6. Is it okay to invite guests who aren’t invited to the wedding?

It’s generally not recommended to invite guests who aren’t invited to the wedding to the rehearsal dinner. It can set expectations and create awkwardness.

7. Can we have a larger rehearsal dinner if we want to invite more people?

Yes, you can have a larger rehearsal dinner if you’d like to invite more people. However, keep in mind that it may change the tone of the event.

Closing: Who Should Be Invited to a Wedding Rehearsal Dinner?

Thanks for reading! The wedding rehearsal dinner can be a fun and meaningful event as you prepare for your big day. While there are no hard and fast rules about who to invite, it’s important to consider your budget, venue, and the tone you want to set. Whether you invite just the wedding party or a larger group of family and friends, make sure to enjoy the time together as you rehearse for your wedding ceremony. Be sure to check back for more helpful wedding planning tips!