Rehearsal dinner/Cocktail party

yborgalMarch 9, 2008

Some of you may recall a thread several months ago where we were having a problem deciding how, or if, to entertain the out of town guests the evening before the wedding. The wedding is in Savannah and about 40 guests will be from out of town.

It's been decided that the rehearsal dinner will include the parents, the bridal couple, bridal party and grandparents.

The evening before the wedding (night of rehearsal dinner) we will have a cocktail party w/ substantial pickings for all out of town guests in town that evening + those attending the rehearsal dinner.

Here's the question...

Should the rehearsal dinner (6:00 PM) preceed the cocktail party that would begin at 8:00 PM? This would leave us with 2 outcomes.... 1)that the cocktail party guests that have not attended the dinner would have enough to eat with the cocktail offerings and not have need of an actual dinner or 2)if they are not quite satiated that they still have the ability to go out to dinner after the cocktail event even though it's around 9:30 PM.

Should the cocktail party be 6:00 - 7:30, so those guests could either make arrangements for an 8:00 dinner elsewhere or choose to go sight-seeing or walking in historic Savannah

after the cocktail party? And then the rehearsal dinner would be held from 8:00 - 9:30.

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If it were me, I would allow the out of towners to make their own arrangesments for dinner early, before the cocktail party, then end the evening with the cocktail party. Presumably, guests will be arriving at various times throughout the day and into the early evening. Those that arrive really early may choose to spend the day sightseeing.

I would have the rehearsal dinner at 6 p.m., assuming that the rehearsal will be finished by that time, and have the cocktail party begin at 8 p.m. I think you are trying too hard to cover all of the possible outcomes for your guests. That is commendable, but it can create a huge amount of stress for you. If you invite the out of town guests to a cocktail/meet the groom's family party beginning at 8 p.m., they will figure out how they want to spend the hours preceeding that time.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 2:41PM
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That's what we're thinking but didn't know if guests would find it odd.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 4:02PM
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I would have the rehearsal dinner first, as early as possible, and then the party for the whole group. I would serve enough food that it would be adequate for supper. That way it's more like that's the main event for the evening, and all the out of towners are included, but the wedding party is having a rehearsal and dinner first (maybe most of the others won't even be aware that the wedding party had a separate dinner).

But I'm sure if you do it the other way, it will be fine, too.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 9:52PM
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And what are those guests who are not invited to the rehersal dinner do before the cocktail party?
I would have the cocktail party at 7....and the rehersal dinner at 6 or 6:30 and have the wedding party join the rest of the out of towners after the dinner.
I don't know about you, but I really don't want to go to a "cocktail party" at 8:00 then I have had dinner and am looking for maybe dessert and a cup of coffee...and maybe a glass of wine to be sociable.
Maybe it would be better to have the cocktail party early....and then have the bridal party go on to dinner, having already had cocktails....but who will then host the cocktail party?
Frankly I would spend the $$ you would have spent on the rehersal dinner and add more to the cocktail party and do it all at once.
Linda C

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 11:55PM
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I think it would be weird to have a cocktail party, and then shoo people away so the rehearsal-dinner folks can have their more-private gathering. Or for the rehearsal-dinner folks to leave.

The thing is, there are 2 events with the same, smallish guest list: the rehearsal, and the dinner. Don't stick the larger event in the middle of them.

When my cousin married in Houston, they had a small rehearsal dinner. Then later, the rest of us joined them at the restaurant's bar for drinks. It was very nice; we felt glad to be included in the evening, and it gave us an excuse to eat together before going over for drinks.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 3:55PM
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Your plan sounds like a good one Mona -- trying to do something in the reverse order could so easily result in an awkward situation as people try to 'end' the cocktail party early to get to a dinner to which some will not be invited.

I imagine that Savannah has some wonderful places for 'high tea' or 'light dinner' that you could suggest before joining the larger group for hord'oerves and cocktails?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 5:16PM
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lindac, I think the problem is that the other family is hosting the dinner -- is that right, monablair?

But I agree that it would sure help if they could make the rehearsal and dinner earlier, so that the all-inclusive party wouldn't have to start at 8. But 8 would work, too -- I see it all the time. Jewish weddings are often on Sundays (except in winter, because you have to wait until well after sundown on Saturday), so the night-before party, whatever it's called, often can't start until pretty late, and it works fine. For that matter, a winter Saturday night wedding usually has to start pretty late, and no one gets appetizers, let alone dinner, until after the ceremony. We manage!

That's why the lady is a tramp ....

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 6:21PM
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gellchom, you're right. The groom's family is hosting the Friday night event.

I wish we could change the times but the rehearsal is from 5:00 to 5:45. Dinner will be from 6:00 - 7:30, hopefully 7:15.

I think they're thinking they may schedule the cocktail party to start without us at 7:30 and we'll join them right after dinner. It has been decided to hold the cocktail party in another private room in the same restaurant the dinner will be held so it's only a matter of going to another floor in the same building.

Meanwhile, we'll ask a couple, either friends or family, to act as interim hosts and greet the guests and make them comfortable until we walk in. These will be people who are at ease with speaking friends as well as strangers and can keep the conversation groups going.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 9:29PM
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Oh, monablair, that sounds perfect. Don't give it another thought. It will all be just fine.

Consider omitting the designation "cocktail party" on your invitation -- just write something like "Please join us for drinks and a light supper" or whatever you think is as close as you dare to calling it "dinner" without offending the groom's parents. If you know your menu, that might make it even easier -- "Cocktails and pasta bar," or "wine and cheese" or whatever. Even if you are just serving appetizers, I would make them substantial and plentiful enough to serve as supper for those who weren't at the dinner. If I were invited for "cocktails and hors d'oeuvre" at 7:30, I would make that my supper and not think it was scanty -- especially if there will be a big meal the next day at the wedding reception.

I wish I were invited! I have no doubt that YOU are going to do this with great elegance and charm. Have fun!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 4:32PM
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gellchom, thanks for the words of confidence.

We won't be calling the get-together a cocktail party; rather the invite will be worded much as you've suggested. The hors d'oeuvres will be "heavy" and there will be enough to serve as a dinner for most people.

Since I'll be in contact with our friends and family before the wedding I will make sure they know what the food offerings will be for the night.

One other question, though. In addition to the cocktails I would like to offer coffee. Would a coffee station be appropriate? I know I'm not a drinker and would appreciate a cup of coffee rather than to stand around and nurse a drink. I imagine there will be others like me that evening.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 5:01PM
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You might just be sure there are non-alcoholic drinks. Lemonade, water, ginger ale. Maybe even a non-alcoholic mixed drink.

I don't drink *coffee,* so I always appreciate the non-coffee, non-alcoholic drinks.

(at our church ladies-group meetings, they used to never serve anything BUT coffee. After about 3 years, i started making a little bit more of a fuss about digging out a glass, and going to the water fountain to get a glass of water. After a year of that, I started saying something. Now, they have juice.)

If you serve coffee, be sure decaf is among the choices, of course.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 5:37PM
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By all means, have coffee. Around here, at night, it is usually only decaf. I'm sure there will be plenty non-alcoholic choices if you have cocktails; the bartenders have juices, sodas, and club soda for mixers anyway. I would appreciate a non-caffiene diet soda choice, but that's just me, and I'd manage fine with water or juice.

What about having something sweet to go with it? You don't have to have elaborate desserts (and I wouldn't), but maybe some cookies or something -- or, if it suits the event better, something really casual and fun like candy bars or cupcakes (even popsicles if there is a cooler). If some of your friends are offering to bake, this is the time to use it.

I'd probably have a drink AND a coffee -- how about that!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 4:38PM
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Since we are of Italian heritage I've decided to bring a large tray of Italian cookies from here to offer as the sweets with coffee that evening.

Thank you all for your sage comments. I hope the evening goes well. We've traveled a rocky road to get to this point in compromise.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 9:33AM
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I agree that it would be awkward having the cocktail party before the rehearsal dinner and then need to kick the guests who are not invited to the rehearsal dinner out (making that fact glaringly obvious). Of course, if the two events are in different places, then the order of events doesn't matter.

If the two events are in the same place, I would definitely hold the rehearsal dinner first, say at 6:00, and then the cocktail party at 8:00. The guests should understand that a cocktail party at 8:00 means that they should find dinner on their own first.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 10:42AM
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The dinner will be at 6:00 with the cocktail party beginning at 7:30. Several guests have mentioned they will be going for dinner between 5:30 and 6:00 and will call it a night after the cocktail party. Others have made dinner reservations for 9:00, after the party, and still others are going to see if whether they're hungry or not and will be playing it by ear.
So it looks as though this is going to work out for everybody after all.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 10:06PM
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