Destination wedding/Rehearsal dinner

yborgalJuly 9, 2007

I'm the mom of the bride to be and the future groom's mother has asked me this question.

Normally, the groom's parents would include the wedding party and partners, parents and out of town guests to the rehearsal dinner. Sometimes they've've had as many as 30 and as few as 12 that have been invited for other weddings.

In this case there will be about 100 out of town guests and 50 local guests. Would it be rude to have a dinner and include only the bridal party and spouses, parents of the bride and groom, and 2 older aunts and uncles? And have a cocktail and appetizer get-together in an adjoining room at the same restaurant that would begin after the dinner is over?

There are $$ for this thought, but also we don't want 2 receptions which is what it would be like.

Do you have any suggestions on how to handle this without offending our guests?

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The rehearsal dinner is only intended for those who are actually in the wedding. I have never been invited to the rehearsal dinner when i wasnt in the wedding. Of course there are a few others who attend such as grandparents.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 10:32AM
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A rehearsal dinner is suppose to be intended just for the members of the wedding party and their spouses, parents, grandparents and maybe the person conducting the wedding. It is an intimate affair for the two families to get together and meet and wish the B&G well. It is not a free for all with out of town guests. They will be at the reception party. There can also be a morning after breakfast for out of town guests. There is no need for them to be at the rehearsal dinner. Nor should they expect to be invited to it. Make up a list of the wedding members and stick to it if money is a problem. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 2:52PM
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It is only RECENTLY that people have started including out-of-town guests.

They should ONLY be included if the hosts of the rehearsal dinner *want* to include them--can afford it, can fit them into the space, really want the atmosphere.

My vote: leave them out.

Partly because, it's big enough event (it shouldn't really be a party--just dinner) once you get the wedding party, their spouses, etc. Because the normal roster is usually the B&G's most intimate circle, it's nice to have that time to socialize w/ one another. In many instances, it's the first chance bridesmaids have to chat, etc.

Also, the fewer people are there, the SHORTER the dinner is. Everybody needs to get to sleep.

If you want, each family can recruit one of those guests from out of town to organize a "let's all eat at the same restaurant" "night before" "we just got into town and we're lonely" dinner--either one for each side of the family, or a single one where they all can mingle. That'll distract people from the rehearsal dinner, and give them something to do and someone to visit with if they just got into town and are lonely. (my vote: separate family events)

Or, simply leave them to their own devices. They are grownups, after all, and presumably can arrange to feed and entertain themselves.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 5:21PM
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Monablair, I think this really depends upon the community (geographic, ethnic, etc.) involved. Some places, only the wedding party and SOs are included, as the other posters have said. But in my community, all the out of towners are always included, plus any in town family, plus sometimes close friends who have hosted showers, etc. So you have to find out what is expected; you can't rely on some "rule."

The way people keep it from being like the same thing two nights in a row is to keep the rehearsal dinner very casual.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 5:33AM
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Intrestingly, I was reading the big Emily Post's Etiquette (15th edition, which is a few years old now; she's up to the 17th), and it said:

"All the members of the bridal party (with the exception of ver young flower girls, pages, or ring bearers), the immediate famliies of the bride and groom, and out-of-town relatives who have arrived for the wedding are invited."

Not "sometimes invited"; "are invited."

In my two areas (small-town midwest, and big-city NYC), that doesn't happen.

She goes on: "if facilities and finances permit, a few very close friends are often included, especially whose who come from a distance."

(but then, they'd be "out of town guests," no? I sense some inconsistency)

"If the clergyman is a prsonal friend, or comes from out of town, he and his wife should also be invited.
"Husbands, wives, fiances, and live-in companions of the attendants go to the rehearsal dinner, but "dates" ar enot included."

There are seating diagrams, etc--she treats it much like a big wedding.

And though she says 'music and dancing are not at all essential.." she also says "Other[s] [rehearsal dinners] are far more elaborate. A strolling violinist or accordionist may play romantic background music, or there may be a full orchestra and after-dinner dancing."

That seems way overboard to me!

and, int he section on menu:
"when the wedding is large and formal, the style of the rehearsal dinner is too, and the meal compares to that of any formal dinner. However such an elaborate and expensive menu is in no way necessary. If the wedding is informal and nontraditional, the menu should be also."

I really disagree w/ the implication that the rehearsal dinner *should* be formal if the wedding is. A contrast in tone is kind of nice. And all this sort of implies a fanciness and a scale that I think is too likely to compete w/ the rehearsal dinner.

But I think for our OP, the fact that the hostess is worried about it being too big and too expensive, that recruiting someone else to organize outings, etc., is a better idea.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 3:50PM
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Just goes to show you even Miss Emily can get it wrong on occasion. lol NancyLouise

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 9:27AM
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Just went through the entire process 4 weeks ago. As the parents of the groom, we sponsored the rehearsal dinner. What we did and the way we approached it is probably different from any book.

We talked it over with the bride and groom plus her parents. Since both sides of the family had many family members coming from out of town, we worked a compromise list that covered the bridal party and their "significant other" plus any aunts/ uncles.

We had 42 at the dinner. Every thing worked out fine and both sides were pleased. By the way, there were 157 at the wedding!!

Enjoy the journey.

eal51 in western CT

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 7:40PM
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i tried my best to limit the number of people at both ds' weddings but the first did include out of towners...that was solved by a backyard bbq....and now several of the guests have passed, so it is a lovely memory...

the other, my ds2 fil is feuding with his x (and they've been divorced 15 years), so that eliminated 3-4 extra guests....petty....but easier on our goodness my dil has a sense of humor...

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 10:27PM
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when dd2 got married in florida, we all went to dinner at the mucky duck on sanibel island...sil's mother is a single mom so we went "dutch" for dinner...there were 40 guest who attended the wedding so they were included...

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 10:43PM
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I often like the "night before" party (which, as I wrote above, is usually pretty big in our community: wedding party + all out of town guests + all in-town relatives + (often) the very closest in-town friends (like the ones who hosted showers, hospitality rooms, etc.) at least as much as the wedding reception. The reason is that that is when all the out of town relatives and friends are seeing each other for the first time of the weekend, and the extended families are meeting each other for the first time. It seems like a shame to me not to have everyone together right away. Again, it never feels like two wedding receptions in a row, because the night-before party is casual, and the focus is on the group more than on the couple.

But again, I stress that I am thinking of weddings that are also functioning as family reunions and the first meeting of the two (or more) extended families. If it were a family that all lived nearby, or didn't get along, or something like that, it might seem different to me.

I know it can get expensive, and Miss Manners says it's getting out of hand. But I LOVE the whole weekend full of events. It would feel really funny to me to travel far away for a wedding and be left to my own devices for everything except the wedding itself, especially if my relatives were there, too. If there are 40 of you, you can't just walk into a restaurant together!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 11:01AM
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My daughter's husband parents hosted a rehearsal dinner in Fla - it was in Fort Walton Beach - 120 guest and all were invited. Catered by a local restaurant and had it in a pavilion on the beach - brought our own beer and wine - it was awesome and reasonable for 120 guest - being that the bride was from St. Louis and Groom Chicago - SO yes invite everyone - this was 6 years ago and now we're the grooms parents and planning a party on Captiva Island Fla - so any great ideas are welcome - only we have just 25 ish to make happy

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 7:31PM
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