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Who should host?

The groom's parents traditionally host this event.  However, due to budgets, geography, or strained relationships, it could be that the groom's parents are unable to host. It is perfectly acceptable for another member of the groom's family to host, if they like. Otherwise, a close friend, a member of the bride's extended family (or the bride's parents if they are able to contribute after wedding costs), or the couple themselves can host the gathering.

Should the bride and groom be consulted regarding the major choices (colors, theme, location, etc.)?

Because the rehearsal dinner is usually the night before the wedding, there are lots of things to schedule in a tight period, such as the actual wedding rehearsal, beauty appointments, tuxedo rentals, etc.  Therefore, it only makes sense to include the bride and groom when trying to decide the when and where of the party. This is also an event where it is important not to overshadow the wedding, so the host(ess) may want to inquire about the wedding's decor and ask the bride for suggestions.  However, this is a party hosted in the couple's honor, not a second event for the bride to plan. To the hosts, make sure you are reasonable in consulting the bride and her family, as they should also beware not to overstep.

Who needs to be included on the guest list?

Few things have jumped from tradition so much in wedding planning as the rehearsal dinner guest list. It is "traditional" for the rehearsal dinner guest list to include members of the wedding party (and other contributors to the ceremony), spouses, the celebrant, with plus-ones being optional for all single guests.  Nowadays, it seems as if it has become a pre-wedding party for all out of town guests, close friends of the family, wedding party members, and plus-ones being expected.  The host should ask for the names of the wedding party members and other necessary attendees from the bride.  If the host would like to extend the guest list to include more people because the budget and venue allows for it, by all means.

What are some ways to reduce the cost of a large guest list without looking too frugal?

If the host is looking for ways to extend the guest list but is limited by their budget, there are ways to have a perfectly delightful rehearsal dinner for less cost.  If the weather is warm and reliable, plan for a picnic rehearsal dinner in a local park. The bridesmaids will welcome the chance to wear comfortable shoes before being squeezed into heels the entire next day, and the fresh air will help everyone relax.  If you are having the rehearsal dinner in a restaurant or banquet venue, inquire about the cost difference between a simple buffet meal vs. plated service.  For 10 more rehearsal dinner ideas, click here.

Is there a specific order for toasts or speeches?

The rehearsal dinner is normally filled with family toasts and well-wishes, as the setting is naturally less formal and more intimate than the reception. Traditionally, the groom's family would kick off the speeches (if they are the host) followed by the bride's family, followed by other relatives and wedding party members. It's not as important to follow a specific order as it might be at the reception, but when in doubt wait for the host to begin the toasts.

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