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The Crystal Ballroom Clearwater

Planning the Rehearsal Dinner

Rehearsal Dinner

Rehearsal dinners are an important wedding tradition that brings two families together to celebrate just before the wedding. This main event is planned for the celebration, important announcements, special speeches and coordinating wedding details. The rehearsal dinner requires careful planning to make the moments memorable.

What is a Rehearsal Dinner?

Traditionally, the rehearsal dinner is an event that brings the wedding party and two families together the evening prior to the wedding day. It is commonly seen as an opportunity to relax and celebrate, but this main event has more purpose. While it is centered around two families, it is also a gathering for important announcements and rehearsing for the big day. Do not forget to take time to enjoy the celebration and the opportunity to spend time with those you love.

Rehearsal Dinner

Rehearsal Dinner Timeline

The rehearsal dinner follows a timeline. This is a formal celebration that revolves around food, as the title of the event implies. It usually involves a formal dinner, dessert, cocktails, entertainment and some important speeches. After the cocktails are served, the groom’s father stands to offer a special toast to his son and future daughter-in-law. The mother of the groom follows with her own toast and speech. Then, the groom delivers a heartfelt speech and makes a special toast to his bride. The groom usually delivers a special thank you to his parents and the guests in attendance. The bride can also take the opportunity to do the same. After the toasting and speeches, you may choose to distribute gifts to the wedding party and the parents. It is also an opportunity for the bride and groom to present their wedding gifts to each other. After the last toast is made and gifts are given, announcements usually follow. Depending on the scale of your event, you might have some entertainment, such as a comedian or small band. You might choose a pianist in the corner, a stringed quartet or a harpist. Not every rehearsal dinner hosts entertainment. You should never allow it to compete with the wedding day.

Special Announcements

Announcements are an important part of the rehearsal dinner. It creates the perfect opportunity to focus on questions and answers, especially when it comes to the wedding party. The party might have questions about where they need to be at certain times. The wedding day timeline, locations, transportation and reviewing roles are main topics.

Who Hosts the Rehearsal Dinner?

Since the bride’s family takes most of the responsibility of planning and paying for the wedding day, the groom's parents take the opportunity to plan and pay for this special event. However, couples and family members are commonly sharing the cost of the event, especially when a large rehearsal dinner is being planned. If you are hosting your own rehearsal dinner, you will naturally be in charge of planning your own event and paying all the costs.

Rehearsal Dinner

Creating the Guest List

This event is usually put together by the parents of the groom. The parents of the couple and the wedding party will definitely attend. It is common courtesy to invite the officiant and their significant other, but it is not required. While the guest list is usually comprised of close friends and family that are central to the main event, you might consider inviting close family or friends that are not.

Appropriate Timing

The rehearsal dinner usually occurs the evening before the wedding day and lasts between one and two hours. The length of the party depends on the length of your timeline. If you have a three course meal and a long list of special events planned, you might have a slightly longer event than the average. If you are planning a more extravagant event, you should host the rehearsal dinner a couple of days prior to the wedding to allow time between the rehearsal dinner and the wedding.

Catering the Rehearsal Dinner

Smaller events can be held in a restaurant or a backyard barbecue, but you might consider a small venue and catering the rehearsal dinner. It is important to understand the different types of catering services and establish which ones your unique event requires. Drop-off service is designed to deliver your cuisine to banquet staff and food managers for a buffet-style dining experience. Full-service catering involves plated meals, portioning, artfully designing each plate and providing full-service to the reception tables. This involves setting up, breaking down, plated meals, staff services, bartender services and a much wider range of menu options. Think about the size of the rehearsal dinner you are planning and your overall vision for the experience you want to create.

Crystal Ballroom Clearwater

Choosing a Venue

The venue for the rehearsal dinner can be anywhere on the spectrum from casual backyard garden party to a formal ballroom. The budget, guest list and your unique vision will help you make the decision about the space. If you can get a special rate at an all-inclusive venue to host the rehearsal dinner and the wedding in one space on separate dates, it will provide savings and convenience. Crystal Ballroom Clearwater is an all-inclusive event and wedding venue with a dedicated design team to create an elegant rehearsal dinner and magical wedding day.


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