Your wedding day plans are almost complete and with only a couple of DIY items left to create. You feel a sigh of relief in knowing that you will never have to plan a wedding again...EVER AGAIN! Isn't that just the greatest feeling?
You are your maid of honor sit down for a quick celebratory drink and right then and there, it comes to you. You have yet another event to plan in addition to the wedding day. The rehearsal dinner!.
"Planning my rehearsal dinner is going to be the same thing all of again," you think to yourself. The guest list, the food choices, centerpieces, decor, venue, attire, timelines and you are ready to pull your hair out once again! No matter the size of the event, all of the same little details need to be meticulously chosen and planned. You immediately remember the disagreements you had with your fiance over choosing colors that aren't too girly, the shouting matches with your mom over which dress flatters your figure best, the back-and-forth emails with dad over who would be invited, and the almost-falling out with your best friend over something as small as what jewelry the bridesmaids would be wearing. And before you are even able to take a sip of your celebratory drink, that incredible overwhelming wedding planning feeling sinks in, yet again.
Oftentimes, brides don't realize that no matter how large or how small the event, all of the exact same details, vendors, and items go into planning. So when it comes to the rehearsal dinner, I understand why so many of you get stressed out! But what if I told you that the whole planning experience could be calm, affordable, and stress-free? Would you follow my advice? Well I think you should :)
This isn't a wedding the night before your wedding.
No matter what your wedding-day theme is, the price tag on your wedding day, or the formality of the day following, your rehearsal dinner is not meant to be a wedding the day before your wedding. You don't have to stick to the same theme, the event doesn't have to be up-scale and extravagant, and you absolutely don't need to invite everyone.
Your rehearsal dinner is a quick gathering after your ceremony rehearsal to not only thank those who have been by your side throughout planning, but a thank you for their participation in your wedding day and just a fun time for everyone to relax before the wedding-day craziness begins.
Just because they flew in for the wedding, doesn't mean they need to be there.
I hear bride after bride after bride telling me that they have a lot of guests who flew in for their wedding so they feel bad not inviting them to the rehearsal dinner. And this is what I say to you: When your guests booked their flight and hotel, did they even know about a rehearsal dinner? Most likely, the answer is no! Don't feel obligated to invite everyone. This is an event for your wedding party and just because a family is spending some money to attend your wedding day, doesn't mean you are obligated to invite them to every single activity and event that happens throughout the weekend. Are you going to feel bad not inviting them to your romantic breakfast with your husband the following morning??
This is a "thank you" to those involved.
I have a very simple formula for determining who should be invited to the rehearsal dinner and here it is:
Anyone who will be participating in the ceremony (aka whoever is at the rehearsal) should be invited.
This includes your bridesmaids, your groomsmen, your parents, your grandparents and great-grandparents, your officiant, your flower girl, and your ring bearer, and your coordinator.
Guest List Continued - Who gets a plus one?
Now this is where is always gets tricky. Again, we are trying to stick to a budget so adding a plus one for everyone involved is not always necessary.
Those who should ALWAYS get a plus one (or plus two):
- Flower Girl (yes, invite both of her parents)
- Ring Bearer (yes, both of his parents are invited)
- Officiant (let him or her invite their spouse/significant other)
Those who may or may not get a guest:
When it comes to your bridal party, this is where is gets the most tricky. If a majority of your bridesmaids have spouses/boyfriends who are groomsmen, then there really isn't any problem for you. However, if no spouses/significant others are in the bridal party, then this is something you are going to have to determine yourself. I wish I could give you a formula for this but unfortunately, it is always circumstance-based.
- If you have room in the budget, then it may be a nice to touch to invite them.
- If you are extremely tight on budget, don't even think about inviting spouses.
Remember, this is going to be one event and will last about an hour. I think everyone will survive without their boyfriend or wife for one hour...don't you agree?
This isn't a royal ball.
The rehearsal dinner in no way, shape, or form has to be an extravagant event. If you have time, are not stressed by the thought of planning a second wedding, and have plenty of budget remaining, then be my guest and host a wedding the day before your wedding! But in my eyes, this event should be relaxing and fun for everyone involved.
You don't need a 5-course meal and on that note, you don't need a meal at all! Serve appetizers at your favorite restaurant and allow your guests to purchase drinks if they would like! There is no rule that says you have to serve dinner. Start your rehearsal later in the evening and everyone will have eaten anyways. As long as your guests know what to expect and know what or what not to eat beforehand, your event will turn out exactly as it should be!