Casual hangout instead of rehearsal dinner?

posted 4 days ago in Etiquette
Post # 2
4513 posts
Honey bee

We had a casual barbeque at a historic roadhouse. It was super casual. There was plenty of seating, but most people only sat to eat their food and then got back up to mingle. It was a lot of fun, and easy for people who flew or drove in a bit later to join in on the fun without feeling like they were crashing a dinner.

Eta: we had it to ourselves from 6-9 (I think?) and then it opened to the public with a live band so people could continue on if they wanted to. 

Post # 3
161 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2020

It’s a nice gesture to take the parents to a nice dinner and give thank you gifts but see no reason to add aunts, uncles, or anyone else for that matter.

We‘ve attended a casual welcome party for the out of town guests. The only locals who came aside from the bride and groom were their parents, siblings and bridal party (and I don’t even think the whole bridal party was there that night). It was definitely great to unwind and socialize after spending the morning and afternoon traveling. They treated to drinks and a few appetizers from the bar menu.

Post # 4
4885 posts
Honey bee

Well, really – you taking your parents out to dinner IS your rehearsal dinner.

As for the rest of it, you’re making it more complicated than it has to be.  I would just stop tying it TO your wedding and stop mentioning it to your mom.  All you’re doing is hanging out with friends.  How do you normally schedule hanging out with your friends?  Just do that. 

Do you normally clear hanging out with your friends with your parents first?  The fact that it is occuring in close proximity to your wedding is completely besides the point.  As soon as you tie it to your wedding and make it “an event” then people start having expectations.  Just hang out with your friends like you would any other time they happen to be in town and stop talking about it to your mom and making it sound like it’s “a wedding thing”.  If she asks what you’re doing that night, just say you’re busy.

Post # 5
5920 posts
Bee Keeper

I did casual and it was too casual..i wished we had chosen something else.  It didn’t turn out like I had planned on my head and I kind of wish we did something a bit better.  I was pretty stressed out that day though. 

Post # 6
5920 posts
Bee Keeper

Ok I think your casual event is less casual than mine was and I think it will work out well.  I’m didn’t read to the end and that was my mistake. 

Post # 7
14011 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

I would say compromise with your mom – have your casual event, but make sure you open it up to friends and family. Perhaps you can rent a room at a restaurant and have appetizers out and a bartender. Everyone can mingle as they choose in a relaxed, low pressure environment.

As a guest (either friend or family, travel or no travel), I’d prefer this over a sit down dinner any day.

Post # 8
2164 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2019

There’s absolutely a middle ground, and a fun middle ground at that! We rented out the back room of a cool Italian restaurant, so while there was a sit-down dinner, a good chunk of it was drinks and apps, so people wandered around freely. It was a lot of fun, not formal at all, and we got so many compliments on the location/food/idea. It was about 20 people. Afterwards, we headed next door to a brewery and spent a couple of hours with some of our friends/cousins, which was a blast (the aunts and uncles headed home). 

Post # 9
9592 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2013

it’s your wedding do whatever you want.

we had the rehearsal (lasted 10 mintute), then the rehearsal dinner for those in wedding party, close family, some out of town guests who came in the night before, and some other special people.

but then we (bride and groom) told everyone, we’d be at x bar from x-y and anyone who wanted to stop by to say hello or grab a drink with us.

Post # 10
3613 posts
Sugar bee

View original reply
@annabananabee: It IS tied to the wedding. In this case it would be called a welcome party since there really isn’t a formal rehearsal. It would be rude not to have an event that included people who traveled as well as the bride and groom’s parents, their parent’s siblings, and grandparents if there are any. 

OP, You can definitely have something more casual. That is what my niece did – it was a buffet in a cool room that was part of a restaurant and there was a bar. Plenty of time for mingling before the buffet was set out, and then afterwards more mingling. Some of the older relatives left after that, but others stayed and it was a fun party despite the fact that a few of us relatives stuck around. Her friends were delightful and welcoming. I left around 11:00, and things were still going strong so I’m sure in the end it was just the couple and their friends. 

ETA: the buffet was casual but delicious: The place was sort of an upscale grill concept. They butchered their own pasture-raised meat and poultry, and had their own vegetable and herb garden on property. There were interesting salads, house made sausage, and the best burger I’ve had in ages among other things. 

Post # 11
4855 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

We did a combo approach – we had our rehearsal and rehearsal dinner at my parent’s house (my Mother-In-Law did an awesome job decorating the back lawn) that just included parents, grandparents, officiant, and bridal parties.

Afterward, we had a open-invite backyard fire with snacks and drinks – most of our friends and cousins were out of town and a lot of them came to that, so we had the best of both worlds.

Post # 12
659 posts
Busy bee

ugh, wedding traditions are so frustrating… especially with all the “additional events” that go along with it. People EXPECT a rehearsal dinner, but is it really all that necessary? And are you rude not to invite everyone who traveled from out of town? What if the majority of your guests are from out of town (thats basically a pre-wedding reception at that point)?

I love the idea of a more casual event. We are going to be planning a casual ceremony in our backyard, so we will probably do dinner with our parents/siblings/my kids beforehand (either order some BBQ to be delivered or hit a restaurant), a quick walkthrough of how the ceremony will go, and then invite all the rest of our guests over for some smores/booze in the backyard. That satisfies the “you’ve come from a long way and everyone wants to see each other, welcome to our wedding” requirement, without forcing us to have a huge sit-down dinner and invite everyone. 

I think you do what makes you comfortable – wedding traditions are slowly but surely changing, and you’d be helping the rest of us overhaul the outdated and overly expensive wedding process 🙂 


Post # 13
776 posts
Busy bee

Taking your parents out to dinner is enough, you don’t need to invite aunts, uncles or anyone else. If they want to get together with the rest of the family then they can arrange to have lunch, dinner  or drinks with them separately. If you want to hang out with your friends then do that. This is your wedding so make arrangements that suit yourselves. If your mother suggests again that you change your plans just tell her you’re keeping things exactly as they are and you’ll see other family members on the wedding day. 


Post # 14
5004 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: November 2016

View original reply
@dianaj17:  This is what we did as well and it was a lot of fun!  

Post # 15
4885 posts
Honey bee

@katebluestone:  I dont see how it is tied to the wedding.

They are already going to have a rehearsal with their parents a couple days before and take them to dinner which is their rehearsal dinner.  That is tied to the wedding.

Welcome parties are absolutely not required.  Likewise, not hosting additional parties for out of town guests above and beyond your wedding is absolutely NOT RUDE.  There is no requirement to do that.  

Just because people are in town beforehand for the wedding doesnt make everything you do in that time frame “a wedding event”.  People still have to eat.  Mutually deciding with your friends to go out to eat or grab a drink or even just hanging out at a bar and saying “we will be hanging out here if you want to swing by since you are in town” isn’t inherently a wedding event just because it happens the day before a wedding.  If everyone was in town for a class reunion or Christmas and you say “let’s grab a burger while we’re all in town” doesnt make that a sponsored class reunion event or Christmas celebration.

Now one can decide to make such a thing a “wedding event” and then it that case it should be open to everyone who wants to join in and should be hosted.  But since it sounds like all she wants to do is hit up happy hour with her friends and hang out, the easiest way to do that is stop treating it like a wedding event and go hang out a bar just like you would do with your friends the other 364 days of the year and stop running the plans by mommy as if it was part of the wedding.

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