Your Rehearsal Dinner
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These articles on wedding etiquette are not designed to cover every single situation that come up during a wedding, but to point out the general principles of wedding etiquette and offer some tips in dealing with awkward situations that often arise.
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Wedding etiquette is really just a guideline based on tradition. It actually the art of making those around you feel comfortable and accepted. The most important part of etiquette is the latter--making those around you feel comfortable and accepted. That requires putting yourself in their shoes, and it can be an especially tough thing to do when you are up to your elbows in wedding preparations. It's a necessity, though--with the merger of two families, this is a big day for your friends and relatives too and your behavior, good and bad, will be remembered for years and years to come.
Traditionally, the rehearsal dinner is held after the wedding rehearsal, which is usually the evening before the ceremony, but the rehearsal and dinner may be held at any time within that week. Also traditionally, it is hosted by the parents of the groom, but if for some reason that is not possible, the dinner may be hosted by the couple or the parents of the bride.
Since not all rehearsals feature a rehearsal dinner, if you having one, rehearsal dinner invitations should be issued. They will also serve as a reminder of the date of the rehearsal. Those invited should include both parents of the bridal couple, as well as the attendants and generally the flower girl or girls and ring bearer with their parents, as well as the officiate. If your organist and singer are performing without pay, they should be invited as well. It is not required that the attendants spouses, companions or dates be included in the invitation, and if you really feel that you can't afford it, do not be pressured into doing so. You will gain a lot of understanding, though, if you frankly tell the person asking why you can't invite them. Everyone has been in a financial bind at some time in their lives.
You will be expected to present gifts to the bridal party in appreciation of their work and expense on your behalf. This is usually done anytime after the meal. Often, toasts are proposed on behalf of the bridal couple as a part of the dessert. The bride and groom should graciously respond to the toasts with one of their own, first to themselves, and the to the bridal party. The bride and groom should then hand out the gifts, going to each individual table and saying a few words of appreciation to each person.
Especially nice gifts such as tie tacks
and money clips for the men, and for the women, ID bracelets, necklaces or
earrings that can be worn at the ceremony are especially appropriate and
appreciated. If it is at all possible, have them engraved with their
names and the date of the wedding--and make sure the engraving is correct!
Arrangements for gifts for the attendants should be made at
least three months before the wedding itself. The ring bearer and
flower girl should receive something appropriate to their age. A
nice gift for the flower girl would a small pearl necklace and/or bracelet appropriate to
her age that could be worn at the wedding. It need not be genuine,
but it should fit the child. The ring bearer could receive a hand-held computer
game (about the size of a small calculator) appropriate to his age.
Also think about having coloring books and games at their places at the
rehearsal dinner--it will make everyone's life easier!
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© 2003, by M. A. Woodman
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