Hey, y’all! Welcome back to another Southern Etiquette. Today’s question comes from Rebecca in Virginia. She writes:
“I am confused about the etiquette of the rehearsal dinner. At first, I thought it was to only include the wedding party, immediate family and grandparents. Now I have run across the idea that it also includes all out of town guests. If a majority of both sides of the families are from out of town, wouldn’t this be like having two weddings? Not that I am not up for having two parties all about me, I am just wondering who to invite and not invite!”
Great question, Rebecca, and one that’s increasingly relevant as more and more couples plan destination weddings and full wedding weekends. Emily Post advises:
“The guest list normally includes all members of the wedding party and their spouses or partners; the close families of the couple; and special guests such as the officiant and his or her spouse. Is the host obligated to invite out-of-town guests? Though a nice thing to do, this is entirely optional.”
Agreed. It is never incorrect to only invite “the essentials” to a rehearsal, but it is also a lovely gesture to open up a welcome dinner to the whole guest list. As for your concern that doing so would essentially be like having two weddings, I’d recommend making sure that the two events are very different in tone and formality. A great example is Kristen + Grant’s celebration in Sea Island, GA. You can see their relaxed clambake welcome dinner here, and their glitzy, glam wedding here and here.
Another option, if money is a concern, is to hold a welcome dinner but not host it. My sister is having a destination wedding this August. 90% of the guests will be traveling, so we want to spend as much time as possible with those we love and don’t get to see very often. We’ve organized a welcome dinner at a local lobster shack on the Friday before the wedding. On the card detailing the weekend’s events, we wrote “We recommend budgeting about $12 per person planning to eat lobstah!” as a gentle indication that we wouldn’t be picking up the bill.
What do y’all think? Are you hosting a welcome dinner? Are you holding one? Do you think either is a better option? Why?
Email me if you have a question you’d like to see discussed on the blog! I’d be happy to take a stab at it.