Do all of my out-of-town guests come to my rehearsal dinner? Well, this is a question we frequently answer so we thought we would share with all of our readers what we share with our couples. The number of out-of-town guests can vary at each wedding so our response is usually tailored to each couple, but we will give you our general rule of thumb to help navigate this area of planning.
First, let’s talk about the rehearsal dinner and why couples have them. Rehearsal dinners (by the way, they can be brunches or even breakfasts. There is no hard-and-fast rule that says it has to be dinner, but for all intents and purposes, let’s call it a rehearsal dinner for this post) are usually held after the wedding rehearsal and before the wedding day. It is a great way for the families of the couple to get to spend some time together in a relaxed atmosphere before the big festivities begin. It’s a way to say thank you to those who are taking part in your wedding ceremony. The rehearsal dinner is a time where you have those closest to you together in one place to express your gratitude for their influence in your life, and for their support on this next journey in your life as a married couple. Emily Post explains the details well here on her site.
Typically, those invited to the rehearsal dinner are your immediate family members, the folks that are participating in the wedding ceremony, spouses or dates of those participating in your wedding ceremony, and the officiant and officiant’s spouse. So this is where it can get tricky…
The average cost for a rehearsal dinner is $30-$70 per person. That can get pricey if you are inviting many out-of-town guests. All of your out-of-town friends and family do not need to be invited to the rehearsal dinner. We agree that you should take time to greet them and show your gratitude to them for making the long distance trip, but it does not need to be the rehearsal dinner. So how do you do that, you ask?? Here are a few thoughts…
2 Options to Greet Out-Of-Town Guests
We encourage our couples to list out local activities, attractions, restaurants etc. on their wedding website as well as on the note added in the welcome bag left at the hotel desk for your arriving guests. This way guests can find places to eat that are special to the area where the wedding is taking place.
Ok, Option 1- Reserve a small room (like a boardroom or small meeting room) at the hotel where most guests are staying for a small welcome gathering after the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner (you could choose to have this at a house, but let’s face it, not all of our friends and family are respectful of time and may make it hard for you to leave and get your beauty rest. A hotel makes this departure easier because you have no choice but to leave the room after a certain block of time). The bride and groom can add this welcome gathering information to their wedding website as well as in a little note that is in the welcome bag for guests at the hotel. The bride and groom can specifically designate one hour to meet their out-of-town family and friends for a hug and a drink before they call it a night. This way those guests feel like they have had some quality time with you before your big day.
Option 2- If you aren’t leaving for a honeymoon right away, have a breakfast or brunch the morning after the wedding at the hotel where most of your out-of-town guests are staying. You can simply have muffins and coffee, but the guests will just love the extra quality time they have with you.
Now if you just have one or two couples coming in from out of town, by all means, invite them to the rehearsal dinner. If your extended family would be extremely hurt (and never speak to you again) by not being invited, then make sure you have clear cut guidelines on who gets invited e.g., out-of-town family, but not out-of-town friends etc. This will keep it from getting too messy.
It’s hard trying to include everyone and you never want hurt feelings. By having a special time to greet your out-of-town guests, you help them know how appreciative you are that they took the time to be there for your special day while at the same time saving the rehearsal dinner for the intimate time it is meant to be with those you have specifically chosen to take part on your wedding day.