Hosting a rehearsal dinner is a great way to kick off the festivities for your wedding weekend. It's the time to gather with your loved ones in a casual and comfortable setting and give them a taste of what the rest of the weekend will entail. Read on for the basics of planning a successful rehearsal dinner!

Who Hosts?

Traditionally, the parents of the bride hosted the wedding reception while the groom's parents hosted the rehearsal dinner. As with many other things, these traditional lines have blurred if both sets of parents are contributing to the wedding. Nowadays, we often see the couple hosting the rehearsal dinner themselves. It's another area of wedding planning that requires an honest, open discussion of finances.

Where Should You Have It?

A rehearsal dinner should be relaxed! It's a chance for people from different parts of the couple's life to meet and interact before the big day. Hosting the dinner in a unique venue and including a theme that reflects the couple's family background or interests, will create a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. From craft breweries to backyard pool parties, there are hundreds of great themes and venues.

Who Do You Invite?

A good rule to follow is immediate family members and the wedding party and their significant others. However, even with this, you can have a sizable crowd. Oftentimes, parents want to invite all of the out of town guests. This can be huge! And, in some cases, rival the size of the wedding. In this case, a small private rehearsal dinner can be followed with a welcome reception with light refreshments.

Another option to make your out of town guests feel welcomed is to include a list of 'local favorites' in your welcome bag. Create a sheet of your favorite local restaurants and bars so they can head off to dinner on their own before the welcome reception.

What Happens?

A rehearsal dinner has very little structure—meet up, hang out, and have a great meal while socializing with family and close friends. One excellent option is to include those wedding toasts that can often turn into long speeches. It's the perfect opportunity to have people who might not otherwise get to speak at the wedding reception share their love for the couple. It's also the ideal time for giving gifts to your wedding party and parents, while everyone's there together.

Lastly, be sure to review any last-minute details for the wedding day. Remind the wedding party about breakfast, hair, and makeup timing or where everyone is meeting for pre-wedding photos. Just remember, keep it intimate, keep it low-key, and have a great time with your loved ones!

Hero courtesy of Vtyler Photography