The rehearsal party offers the principal people involved with the wedding a chance to eat together after the wedding rehearsal. Often referred to as the rehearsal dinner, this is a time for guests to relax and unwind from all the wedding planning leading up to the big day. Few etiquette rules exist regarding the rehearsal party, giving everyone involved more freedom to celebrate this event in the manner they choose.
Traditionally, the groom's parents host the rehearsal dinner party. If the parents are not available, or cannot host the party, the groom might want to step in and be the host. This means he will pay for the affair also. If the bride's parents are in a better financial position than the groom or his parents, they can offer to host the rehearsal dinner, after first asking the groom's parents if they would be offended.
The hosts of the rehearsal party can choose to invite whomever they want. Generally, the rehearsal dinner is a party for the people who participated in the wedding rehearsal. This includes the bride, groom, wedding party, officiant and officiant's spouse in addition to the parents of both the bride and groom. Some hosts include the spouses of the wedding party, the siblings of the bride and groom, and out of town guests.
The hosts don't need to send out invitations for the rehearsal dinner party unless they choose to. In the case of a large party, it might be easier to send out invitations than to call guests to invite them. The invitations should be informal, similar to a birthday party invitation, and should be sent out several weeks in advance.
The rehearsal party can be held in any location the hosting couple would like. Different areas often follow various traditions, but generally the dinner is held in a restaurant, or at the home of the host. It could be a small, intimate backyard barbecue, if the host desires. If the host is inviting many out-of-town guests and the party will be a large affair, it might be desirable to have the dinner at a catering hall.
Since the groom's parents are traditionally the hosts of the rehearsal dinner, they generally make a toast to the bride and groom. The father of the groom traditionally toasts the couple, and the mother may wish to offer a toast also. The couple should rise to thank the toaster and can make a toast of their own if they wish. The bride and groom should thank both sets of parents for their contributions to making the wedding a memorable one.
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