This great wedding planning question came in to my column at www.weddingmapper.com, and it’s a dilemma for a lot of parents. So I thought I’d share it here, in case you’re facing the same rehearsal dinner guest list questions:
I am the Mother of the Groom planning a rehearsal dinner in July. My husband and I have our own idea of who is invited to this affair, based on 30 years ago, but today’s generation of 20 somethings have a different idea! My problem is considering what the Bride and Groom want-inviting all guests to the rehearsal dinner who will be coming in to town for the wedding, “after all they have to have someplace to eat dinner”, will turn the Rehearsal Dinner into another, although slightly smaller,’reception’. Most of my family will be the out of towners, all of whom my future daughter in law has met and knows very well. The only guests she doesn’t know are some close friends of ours from high school and college, who wouldn’t expect to be invited to the rehearsal dinner. Where do we draw the line in inviting guests to the Rehearsal Dinner? I thought it was supposed to be a time for the B & G to say thanks to their wedding party, and anyone else involved in the ceremony, and give gifts to them. That would be very awkward with alot of other guests around who they will be seeing the next day.
Thank you for your thoughts.
The trend of inviting all out of towners to the rehearsal dinner has actually faded out a bit now, given the economy and the expense of the wedding. While it’s completely understandable that the bride and groom want to have their out of town guests’ dinner provided, what’s being done now, more often, is just the immediate family and bridal party invited to the rehearsal dinner — for the reasons you mentioned — and out of town guests provided with a list of nearby eateries, or a cocktail party planned for LATER the night before….after the rehearsal dinner. The out of town guests get the picture that they’re not invited to the rehearsal dinner (which may be early at 6pm) when they’re invited to a Welcome Cocktail Party at the hotel, where drinks and light hors d’oeuvres are served. They can take their time arriving, unpacking and mingling, perhaps going to the hotel lounge on their own to eat, and then they know they’ll see you all at the cocktail party later. It keeps costs down, creates a festive atmosphere for that night, gives the bride and groom quality time with their guests, and keeps the toats and gift-giving at the rehearsal dinner to the smaller group.
It’s always the host’s choice of which plan to do…if the bride and groom really want all of the guests at the rehearsal dinner, then think about doing a heavier-appetizers cocktail party for all to keep expenses lower, limit the bar list, and have the bride and groom give their bridal party members their gifts at an earlier arrival time set for them. Toasts can still be made, so this might be a good compromise plan.
Talk to the bride and groom to see what you can arrange…they might be looking for more relaxed time to spend with a greater circle of incoming guests.