Although most of the focus leading up to the wedding is centered on the official big day, there is a nice tradition called the wedding rehearsal dinner that deserves its own attention.
To whom does wedding rehearsal dinner etiquette say the bride should extend the wedding rehearsal dinner invitations? There are several options depending upon budget and personal preference.
Some brides like to include anyone who attends this dry run of the wedding. The participants would most likely be the entire wedding party and the parents of the couple. It would also be nice to include the priest, minister, rabbi, or other officiant as well. Another possibility is to include any out of town guests who have arrived the night before the wedding. This will give them more time to interact with the couple and the other family members that they see infrequently.
The location of the meal depends on many variables. A restaurant close to the church or wedding venue may be chosen for convenience. A simpler option for budget conscious couples is to have the supper at someone's house. An informal barbecue or buffet style presentation allows for the most interaction among friends and family. More adventurous couples with more disposable income can opt for more elaborate rehearsal dinner ideas such as a theme location like a casino.
It's up to the bride (and the amount of energy she has left after the exhausting process of planning the entire wedding) if she would like to create a more intimate atmosphere for quiet discussions or a more party like atmosphere. If she opts for the latter, she will plan rehearsal dinner activities and games as well as make or buy rehearsal dinner favors.
The dinner on the night before the wedding is also a good chance to either practice wedding toasts or get some out of the way completely by calling them wedding rehearsal dinner speeches. Brides and grooms may choose this option if there are a lot of people who wish to speak at the wedding or if they know they have a guest who likes to ham it up or may say something inappropriate. It is better to let this person make a rehearsal dinner toast than to let him or her command a larger audience during the reception.
Those who receive invites to this occasion know they are lucky in that they will definitely get to spend some quality time with the bride and groom. During the reception, the couple may be so busy that they only have time to briefly say hello to each guest, inquire how he or she is enjoying the day, and extend thanks for coming. The rehearsal night allows each guest a lengthier visit with the couple.
The bridesmaids' gifts and groomsmen's gifts can also be distributed during the rehearsal dinner. This is wise since it will be one less thing for the bride to worry about the next day. Some couples also take this opportunity to give tokens of appreciation to anyone else who has been especially helpful during the whole process even if that person is not a member of the wedding party.