The rehearsal dinner is the event before the main event. Nerve levels and excitement are high. Preparation is the key so let’s talk about the rehearsal dinner, what it means, what happens, and how you can deliver a perfect rehearsal dinner speech.
What do you do at a rehearsal dinner?
The rehearsal dinner follows the wedding rehearsal, traditionally the evening before the wedding. By now, the wedding details have been ironed out and put in place, and it is time to relax. The dinner can be formal or as simple as a backyard BBQ. In some cases, the families have not met, and the rehearsal dinner allows them to do just that and chat before the big day.
Who attends the rehearsal dinner?
Couples decide together who attends the rehearsal dinner. Traditionally in heterosexual couples, the groom’s family hosts the dinner. In same-sex marriages, the couple decides who will host the dinner, and in either scenario, today’s couples often host the rehearsal dinner themselves.
Attendees are commonly limited to the wedding party and other participants in the ceremony, including readers, parents, and grandparents. It is not customary to invite the officiant. Over the years, as weddings have evolved from afternoon ceremonies to weekend events, out-of-town guests are often asked to the dinner to relax and enjoy some time with the couple and their families.
Who gives speeches at rehearsal dinners?
As we write the wedding vows and speeches, we like to work with our couples to create a stress-free and relaxed environment for the rehearsal. Few people are comfortable with public speaking, so we suggest minimizing the formality of the speeches, and let’s make a toast instead!
Martha Stewart agrees:
Toasts are often a big part of the evening, and unlike those at the wedding reception, where the order may be well planned, rehearsal dinner toasts tend to be spontaneous. In this intimate and casual setting, guests will often feel comfortable sharing their memories of the couple and wishing them well. If the groom’s parents are hosting, his father might begin by welcoming all the guests and offering a toast to the bride and groom. The father of the bride can stand next, followed by the attendants and any other guests who want to speak.
During the toasts, the bride and groom have a chance to say a few words of thanks to all of the people taking part in the wedding. This is also the traditional time for them to present gifts to the members of the wedding party (and perhaps the parents) to thank them for their support.
Rehearsal dinner speech examples
Examples of rehearsal dinner speeches range from simple toasts, as we discussed, to trying to get the Best Man to take a seat.
- Traditionally, the bride and groom’s fathers give a short speech. It presents a quiet time for them to talk about their soon-to-be in-law, share some stories about them as a couple, and welcome them to the family.
- The bride and groom may deliver a joint speech to their family and friends, thanking them for coming to the wedding. It is also a time to think of those that are no longer with them and honor them.
- If an officiant attends, a brief prayer or reading can be done before dinner or at the end of the evening.
A new and fun rehearsal tradition has become playing a rehearsal dinner game. Pinterest has an entire board on rehearsal dinner games, including Bride & Groom Trivia, She Said, and Mad Libs.
How long is the rehearsal dinner?
Whether you have a formal sit-down served dinner or a backyard poolside BBQ, the dinner should end no later than 10-10:30 pm. Everyone needs a good night’s rest.
Whatever you choose, make it personal.
Whether you engage a printer to design and print invitations or come up with a creative solution such as a mailing with a small party favor, make it yours! Enjoy the time relaxing before you say, ‘I Do.’ We strongly suggest that alcohol is kept to a minimum so that you awake ready and refreshed the following day. Congratulations on your big day!
PS No one said it had to be dinner! (but it should occur after the ceremony rehearsal)