Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette for a Wedding Party in New England

When most people think about planning a Massachusetts wedding reception and ceremony, they give little thought to one of the most important planning parties of the entire event. The rehearsal dinner is traditionally paid for and hosted by the groom’s parents, but with many couples bucking tradition these days, pretty much anyone could host this particular party. The goal of the rehearsal dinner is to get everyone that is in the official wedding party and the officiant, along with the parents, grandparents, and siblings of the bride and the groom, together to celebrate their nuptials.

It occurs immediately after the final rehearsal for the wedding ceremony so everyone will know where to stand, when to come down the aisle, and the couple can interject any last-minute changes to the schedule. Once the “work” is done, the celebration can begin. While some families will choose to go out to a local restaurant or even host the dinner at home, most will decide to host the dinner at the same place where the ceremony or reception will be held.

The Best Date for a Rehearsal Dinner
Depending on the date of your wedding, most couples prefer to do the rehearsal no more than two days prior to the actual event. So a wedding on Saturday would have the rehearsal dinner on Thursday night, leaving Friday open for a spa day, family brunch, and other planned events. While some couples skip the rehearsal dinner due to time constraints, others see this as an opportunity to bring family and friends together ahead of the wedding to get to know each other and work out some of the nerves for the big day.

For the parents of the groom, planning this event at local Boston area party venues or choosing a reception hall that is near the ceremony and reception, can help them feel more a part of the wedding planning process. It also gives the bride’s family one less thing to worry about, while they are rushing around planning the ceremony, picking out cakes, and getting the staging set for the reception. A well-planned rehearsal dinner can be a welcomed break for all involved.

Formal or Casual?
This is a debate that many families have. When choosing a reception hall for the event, you can gauge the type of party that you can throw. If you are having it at the same place where the Massachusetts wedding reception will be held, the bride and her family can put you in touch with the on-site event coordinator to secure the date and plan out the menu. You can have a buffet-style meal or just serve passed hors d’oeuvres. You could also have a formal plated meal, just make sure you aren’t serving the same food that they will be serving to the guests and wedding party in New England at the actual reception.

Think about a theme for the party, but make sure you don’t step on the bride’s theme in any way. Many families see this as a great time to share baby photos of the bride and groom on a flat screen or other display during the party. They will also sometimes share videos, songs, poems or stories about the bride and groom as they toast to their happy future together. The theme, the setting, and the activities at your rehearsal dinner can vary widely depending on what you want to get out of it and how much time you have to spend with everyone before the wedding. Just make sure to specify whether the event will be formal or casual on the invites so your guests will know what to expect.

Sending Out the Invitations
Try to send out the invites to the rehearsal dinner shortly after the wedding invitations go out. That way, if guests are coming in from out-of-town and will need to make plans to be there a day early to attend, they can make arrangements. If you are having the event catered at local Boston area party venues like The Crystal Room, you will want to have guests RSVP so you will have an accurate head count. If you are just having a small gathering of people at the rehearsal dinner, you can even send out e-vites (online) or make personal phone calls.

Typical Schedule for Rehearsal Dinners
So what do you do at a rehearsal dinner? Since this dinner typically occurs after the wedding party in New England has gone through the rehearsal for the wedding ceremony with the officiant and the bride-and-groom-to-be, you should schedule the actual meal to start later in the evening, around 7-8 pm. The event should start with a casual meet-and-greet to allow everyone to say hello, make introductions, and get comfortable with each other.

A toast should be offered by the groom’s father and, in some cases, the groom’s mother as well. The toast should begin with the groom’s father toasting the soon-to-be daughter-in-law, then her parents and finally, the groom. Then the groom takes over and makes a toast to his wife-to-be and the guests. In some cases, the bride and groom then stand up and make a toast to the groom’s parents as hosts and to all the guests for attending and participating in the wedding.

Contact The Crystal Room in Milford, MA
If you are planning a rehearsal dinner and are considering Boston area party venues for the wedding party in New England, take a look at our well-appointed facility in Milford, Massachusetts. When choosing a reception hall, make sure that there is enough for you and all of your guests, that you have a fairly accurate head count of the people who will be attending, and that there is ample parking at the facility. Give us a call at 508-478-7800 to schedule a tour of our facility or to learn more about all of the services that we provide.