Traditionally, the rehearsal dinner is planned by the groom's mother. And as many of you mothers of the groom know, sometimes you can feel like a bit of an unwanted passenger in the wedding planning process. So, if you need to focus on planning something, put your energy towards the rehearsal dinner. It doesn't have to match the wedding in any way (but it shouldn't exceed the formality of the wedding), so you can go with whatever you would like.
Pick a theme and/or color palette. Again, the rehearsal dinner shouldn't "show up" the wedding. So if your daughter-in-law is planning a very casual affair with minimum decor, you should probably avoid visiting Pinterest for elegant place card inspiration. But other than that, you can have such a good time planning this important event. Pick a theme or palette that you know the couple will enjoy. It can be whimsical like Disneyland decor inspired by their first date or a classic candlelit dinner at your family's favorite Italian restaurant.
Have fun with the menu! Of course, the best part of the party is the food. You can be as creative as you would like with the menu. Perhaps the couple had a hard time choosing between two options for their wedding buffet. Surprise them with the one that almost made the cut! Just remember that if the wedding is the next day, nerves will be high. Now may not be the time to experiment with unfamiliar or extremely rich foods.
Aim for convenience and relaxation. The goal of the rehearsal dinner is to gather immediate family and the members of the wedding party together for a relaxing evening before the next day's onslaught of chaos and merriment. Make sure that the location of the rehearsal dinner isn't too far from the ceremony venue or where the majority of dinner guests will be staying
Keep the guest list as light as you can. As stated above, traditionally, the rehearsal dinner is only for those in the wedding party, their spouses, and immediate family. You don't need to invite college friends and second cousins unless you want to. Whatever you choose to do with the guest list (which is decided by the host, not the bride), make sure that it is consistent between both families. If your son needs to act as intermediary during this process, he should definitely do so. If one side wants to invite out of town guests, the other side should extend an invitation to their out of town guests, as well. This is why, in my mind, the goal should be an intimate gathering. A rehearsal dinner is not another wedding reception. Toasts will be more "familiar" and definitely have more inside jokes. It's not the place for every guest.
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