Traditionally, couples getting married will have a rehearsal dinner the night before the actual wedding ceremony, although it can be several days before. This dinner is a time for close family and friends, including the wedding party to gather and have some downtime before you exchange vows. Although there are many traditions such as the grooms family paying and hosting, and the dinner being a formal occasion at a local restaurant or hotel, today, couples can do just about anything they want.
In fact, many rehersal dinners are now turning into a fun event rather than something conservative and sometimes, stuffy. Just remember that this is your dinner and a time for you to choose what is right for you. You might be pulled in a number of directions, each member of the family offering their own suggestions, but do what makes you comfortable, coordinating with your personality and lifestyle.
First, you need to determine the budget, regardless of who will be paying. This will provide you with the foundation needed for choosing the location, the type of food and drinks to be served, decorations, and so on. If you find that you are on a tight budget, simply use your creative skills to create a wonderful rehearsal dinner that everyone will enjoy.
The guest list will include members of both families and no matter who is hosting the dinner you would have the responsibility of putting this list together. Make sure the parents, grandparents, siblings, and the wedding party is included. Additionally, if you will be having close out-of-town guests, they too should be invited. Once the list has been completed, you will need to have the invitations sent out about 10 days prior to the day. If the grooms mother will in fact be hosting, then she would need to be consulted on this aspect.
When it comes to the location, you have literally hundreds of options. Again, restaurants and hotels are often used, especially if the rehearsal dinner will be more on the formal side. However, you can also have the dinner at a private home where things are intimate and private, at a museum, art gallery, the park, the beach or lake, or just about anywhere. The key is to choose the location based on the theme of the rehearsal dinner. For instance, if you plan to have a barbecue, then the beach or park would be the ideal place.
The menu again will depend on the type of dinner you have planned. If choosing a nice restaurant, then prime rib, chicken, or carved ham would be appropriate. However, for dinner at a private home, you might choose something such as Shrimp Fettuccini, spaghetti and meatballs, or some other type of home-style food. If children will be at your rehearsal dinner, then make sure you have grilled cheese, hot dogs, or other favorites for them as well.