The wedding rehearsal dinner is the time to relax and celebrate with those closest to you and your future spouse. It’s meant to be a relaxed and enjoyable affair – nothing to stress over. With that in mind, here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about wedding rehearsal dinners.

What exactly is a rehearsal dinner?
A rehearsal dinner is an informal meal held after the wedding rehearsal, usually on the night before the wedding. It’s the perfect opportunity for the wedding party and immediate family members to have a good time and get to know one another in a casual setting. Most importantly, it’s an opportunity for the bride and groom to thank everyone for their help and participation in the wedding.

Is it really necessary to have one?
Although it’s not necessary to have a rehearsal dinner, it’s a fun evening and there’s no reason NOT to have one. The wedding day festivities will be incredibly hectic for all involved, and won’t afford anyone much chance to visit. The rehearsal dinner, however, allows just that to happen.

When should we have the rehearsal dinner?
The rehearsal dinner should happen on the night before the wedding, immediately after the actual rehearsal itself. You want to have a good time, but be aware the next day will be a long one, full of activity, and it’s in your best interest to keep the night an early one. No one wants to be exhausted on their wedding day.

Who pays?
Tradition indicates the groom and/or his parents host the rehearsal dinner. If this is not an option, there’s no reason why the bride and groom, both sets of parents, or a close friend can’t host it instead. It’s really up to you, your spouse, and the situation.

Who plans it?
Again, tradition has shown the rehearsal dinner planned by the groom’s mother. Check with your future mother-in-law and see if it’s something she would like to do. It’s a great opportunity to get her involved in the wedding activities.

What happens at a rehearsal dinner?
Eating, of course! In addition, there are also toasts of thanks and good luck across the room and the giving of thank you gifts to members of the wedding party. Some rehearsal dinners can often turn into roasting the bride and groom, and it’s always fun to have fun activities like ice-breaker games or funny home movies of the bride and groom.

How should I invite guests?
Just like the wedding, the rehearsal dinner is usually announced with printed invitations. Unlike the wedding invites, however, these are often less formal and include the date, time and location of the event, as well as driving directions.

Should I invite out-of-town guests?
This is completely your decision. However, it affords a great opportunity to visit with those people who’ve traveled a great distance to come to your wedding. Traditional rehearsal dinners only included the wedding party and immediate family members, but more and more modern couples are including close friends and out-of-town guests in the fun as well.