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Host a Great Rehearsal Dinner on a Tight Budget

Updated on December 14, 2015

Rehearsal Dinners: The Problems They Pose

What's with rehearsal dinners? They sure have gotten out of hand! What gives?

The rehearsal dinner was designed so that the bride, groom, bridal parties and immediate families could get together after the wedding rehearsal, to relax and have a bite to eat. They were not designed to be "mini weddings" held the night before the main event. So how do you host a rehearsal dinner on a tight budget?

Traditionally, the bride's parents hosted the wedding and the groom's the rehearsal dinner, but those days are long gone. Today everyone chips in to host a wedding; the same for the rehearsal dinner. And many times, the bride- and groom-to-be host their own wedding and rehearsal dinner.

NOTE: If the bride's and groom's families are hosting the wedding, the bride and groom may decide to host the rehearsal dinner.

Who's Invited?

Rehearsal dinners often pose problems for the hosts, who feel obligated to invite everyone (who is attending the wedding) to attend the rehearsal dinner. That's not the idea and it can get expensive.

So whom do you invite to your rehearsal dinner? Your immediate families including step-members and grandparents; your bridal party (include dates/and or spouses if the bridal-party members are from out of town. It would be tacky to leave their dates and/or spouses sit in a hotel room); the officiant and musicians if they're NOT paid vendors; and the ring-bearer and flower-girl(s) and their parents.

Technically, these are the ONLY people who must be invited to your rehearsal dinner. If you decide to invite more, it's up to you and your budget.

The Ultimate Money-$aving Idea

The best, most cost-effective way to host a rehearsal dinner is at your home or one of your family's homes, around the pool or in the back yard, and have it catered.

Serve chicken, ribs on the grill, and hotdogs and hamburgers with lots of salads and side dishes. Buy your own liquor and let the caterer prepare the food, serve and clean up. It will save money and it's fun. Besides, people enjoy the friendly surroundings that only a "home" can provide.

CAUTIONS: When hosting an "at-home" rehearsal dinner, have it catered, no exceptions! The last thing that a bride, groom and their families should be doing a night or two before the wedding is preparing food, serving it and cleaning up. Leave that to the caterer; it's well worth it.

Always buy your own liquor for the rehearsal dinner. This will save you a ton of money! Keep the receipt and make sure that all unopened bottles are returnable for cash or credit.


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