(Closed) rehearsal dinner question

posted 5 years ago in Etiquette
  • poll:
    its fine, invite who you WANT : (63 votes)
    95 %
    you HAVE to include out of town guests : (3 votes)
    5 %
  • Post # 3
    629 posts
    Busy bee

    @sharky:  I believe, traditionally, you do invite all Out of Town guests, but now that brides and grooms don’t necessarily grow up marrying the girl/boy next door and living in their hometown for the rest of their lives, there are usually a lot more Out of Town guests than in the past. I don’t believe you have to invite them anymore, but it is a courtesy to, or at least give recommendations in town for places they may like to visit.

    Post # 4
    16216 posts
    Honey Beekeeper

    We just invited our immediate families, grandparents, bridal party + dates, and anyone else involved in the ceremony (readers, pastor, etc). Everyone was fine with that. I don’t think our Out of Town guests would have expected to be invited to the rehearsal dinner.

    Post # 5
    3574 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: September 2011

    We invited the bridal party, immediate family, and all Out of Town guests.  Since Darling Husband is from accross the country, our Rehearsal Dinner was a mini wedding.  I think it’s nice if you can include everyone, but I don’t think it is necessary these days.  I’ve been to nice RDs that were pizza parties or BBQs so they could afford to include all Out of Town guests. 


    Post # 6
    242 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: June 2013

    my mother has asked if we are inviting all Out of Town guests to our rehersal. she is stuck to this “tradition” rule book. we just want it to be the wedding party and parents. i told her flat out no Out of Town guests. we can’t afford it. 

    Post # 7
    46240 posts
    Honey Beekeeper
    • Wedding: November 1999

    @sharky:  It is not tradition to invite all the Out of Town guests. It is a failry new practice.

    Traditionally, only the wedding party and their SO’s , parents, grandparents, etc.were invited.

    It was a way to thank those people for their participation in the rehearsal, the wedding, and in the case of the parents, their support in both  raising you and their support for the wedding and the marriage.

    I have never once, as an Out of Town guest, been invited to the rehearsal dinner, nor would I expect to be, unless my friends had unlimited budgets.

    Post # 8
    51 posts
    Worker bee
    • Wedding: March 2015

    Ours is just going to be us, our parents, & the bridal party.  🙂

    Post # 9
    2971 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: September 2012

    we just invited those who were involved in the ceremony. if we had invited all our out of town guests it would have easily been 200 people and no way could we afford to feed all those people twice, haha. i’ve been to several out of town weddings and have never been invited to a rehearsal dinner and i never expect to be. i don’t think my famiky expected to be invited either.

    Post # 10
    1409 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: February 2009

    We are having parents, grandparents, immediate family and date or spouse, bridal party, and another family member who is doing a reading. 

    Post # 11
    3625 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: June 2012

    Traditionally, you are supposed to invite all Out of Town guests but having been one of the Out of Town guests that’s not in the Bridal Party, I would be totally fine not attending the Rehearsal Dinner. If it’s a vacation-type destination, there’s probably another place we would like to check out anyway.

    That being said, one of the Destination Wedding Rehearsal Dinner we attended was the highlight of our trip and we still talk about it. For that one, it was a super small, intimate Destination Wedding and everyone was invited to the Rehearsal Dinner. The bride helped MOG plan a private luau at an upscale resort in HI. Amazing!


    Post # 12
    248 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: July 2013

    I’ve never heard of inviting Out of Town guests to the Rehearsal Dinner before this post. I don’t think that is expected of you at all. I am only inviting the wedding party/people who are helping decorate and my immediate family. I thought that was the norm…

    Post # 13
    501 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: September 2013

    @julies1949:  +1.  The rehearsal dinner traditionally only involves those who are part of the rehearsal – wedding party, their dates, and immediate family.  Extending an invite to all Out of Town guests is nice, but by no means expected/dictated by ettiquette.  If you know many of your Out of Town guests will be arriving in the area the night before and want to welcome them, I think it’s a perfectly fine (and still generous!) alternative to suggest a meet-up spot for a post-rehearsal-dinner drink (I’ve been to several weddings where the bride & groom did this, and it worked great!).

    Post # 14
    12879 posts
    Honey Beekeeper
    • Wedding: November 1999

    We invited immediate family, bridal party members and their dates, parents, grandparents, officiant, readers, the flower girl, and her parents.  It ended up being about 30 people. 

    Most of my guests were Out of Town also, but we did not include them, as it would have been way, way too large.  If you don’t include Out of Town guests, make sure it’s all or nothing – i.e, don’t invite some and not others, because that will cause lots of hurt feelings!

    Post # 15
    1696 posts
    Bumble bee

    I see a bit of confusion about what is traditional and what is not. Let me see if I can explain how both rules (hosting of out-of-town guests, and hosting of the bridal-party and their spouses only) have roots in tradition.

    I have posted over and over, that there is no such thing as “wedding etiquette”. Thoughtfulness and conformity to social norms of good behaviour are everyday obligations. What we are obliged to do at weddings is just the same (if generally more formal) than what we are obliged to do in non-wedding circumstances.

    When people you know — friends, family or connexions — visit from out-of-town, good manners requires that you offer them hospitality. If you have house-space, you offer that: the best you have but with no expectation that you need to offer more than you have available. No matter how humble your “best” is (up to and including “nothing”) you never apologize or feel ashamed of offering it. If you have a well-run kitchen and can offer a meal or meals, you do that. Or if your kitchen’s capacity to produce meals is dubious, you offer to take your friends out to dinner. Or if you cannot afford that, you offer them guidance as to where the good hotels and restaurants are, and maybe invite them over for dessert or cocktails or tea. Or invite them over to sit on the floor and drink water and eat stale bread, if that is the best you have.

    Naturally, when a couple is getting married, they and their parents are busy, so other in-town friends and family are expected to step up and offer hospitality to people coming in to town for the wedding. As with writing bread-and-butter notes, or using black india ink to hand-write your replies, offering hospitality to out-of-town visitors to a friend’s wedding is something would-be etiquette judges have to take on in order to be without sin when they feel like casting stones at someone else’s etiquette faux pas. So, sharky  does not need to provide pre-wedding and post-wedding hospitality to all of her own out-of-town wedding guests, but does need to consider offering a little hospitality to at least one out-of-town wedding guest each time she is an in-town guest at a friend’s wedding.

    Normal etiquette requires that, at the end of some chore or obligatory gathering that friends partake together, that the beneficiary of their efforts offer them some kind of refreshments. A senior kinswoman is always allowed to offer to provide that hospitality on the beneficiary’s behalf, which is why the mother of the groom often offers to give a “rehearsal dinner”. It also gives her a chance to show off her good taste and social skills which are seething in frustration as she watches the bride’s mother arrange a party in which she herself has no say. As hostess, she may invite whomever she pleases, provided that a) she invites everyone who has to be present for the rehearsal, and that b) she invites both spouses or both fiances in any married or engaged couple, and that c) she doesn’t upstage the wedding itself. Often that guest list does include her own nearest and dearest out-of-towners.

    In the case of “destination weddings”, or weddings where the couple and/or their families are either new in town or from out-of-town, there may be no friends to step up and make the normally-polite offers of hospitality to out-of-towners. In that case a hostess might undertake to invite them all to the rehearsal dinner as a stop-gap. She does not need to and is not expected to: adults travel on their own all the time and know how to find a restaurant and check in to a hotel and should not be treated as incompetents. It is *nice*, but it is nicer still if the whole in-town community can adopt a spirit of hospitality, and inviting out-of-town guests to the rehearsal dinner is never obligatory.

    Post # 16
    62 posts
    Worker bee
    • Wedding: May 2013

    It’s your dinner…do what you want to do.

    The topic ‘rehearsal dinner question’ is closed to new replies.

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