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Rehearsal Dinner - do you have to have one?

We haven't budgeted for a rehearsal dinner and I know traditionally it's proper to host one with wedding party, their significant others and close family/immediate family. In all honesty we kind of forgot about it with all the planning. Oops!

Is it completely rude or in bad taste to not have one? My fiancé and I have a large wedding party - 16 in total (for bride and grooms side). Most of them are married or in a relationship so that boosts the headcount to double for a rehearsal dinner and then we would need to include immediate family. We are spending a lot to make our wedding happen, and just won't have the extra (thousands) to host this. 

So im wondering if it's acceptable to do something more informal like invite everyone for a drink and a bite and we provide appetizers? Or invite everyone for a toast and maybe as the bar to cap it at $500 or such. I truly believe that our close friends and family won't really care if it's not a formal dinner I think they will just want to spend time with us. But to spend the money for close to 50 people is like a whole other wedding in itself! Most restaurants don't allow for large parties unless you commit to catering. I just feel so con fused on what to do and was wondering if it would be in bad taste to just skip it all together? I sould mention that our wedding is out of town so our friends/fam coming down for the rehearsal would all be coming from out of town by about a 1.5-2 hour drive.


Re: Rehearsal Dinner - do you have to have one?

  • Do you absolutely need to have a rehearsal? If not, skip it. But if you have one (especially if you people are coming in from that far away) then yes, you need to host something. Pizza and beer at a local restaurant is fine. As is ordering in sandwiches/pizza at the hotel. 
  • The only way you can skip the rehearsal dinner entirely is by not having a rehearsal. Otherwise, you have to provide some sort of meal, even if it is something simple/inexpensive. There is no rule saying rehearsal dinners have to be formal. Pizza/sandwiches can easily be done for under $500, especially if you do not invite all wedding guests to the rehearsal dinner (which you are not required to do anyway).
  • If you are having a rehearsal that consists of more than just you and your FI, then you must feed your guests.  The rehearsal dinner is to thank the people involved in your wedding for taking additional time out of their schedule for your wedding preparations. 

    The good news is, it can be as informal as you like.  It doesn't have to be a big formal mini-wedding, but it must be fully hosted by you and food appropriate for the time of day.  So, if you want to make it pitchers of beer and pizza at the local pizza place or a party sub delivered to your hotel conference room, that's perfectly fine.  But the only way to not have a rehearsal dinner is to not have a rehearsal.
  • The dinner is technically just a "thank you" for attending the rehearsal, so you don't need to have a rehearsal dinner if you don't have a rehearsal. 

    Unless you have a really complicated ceremony, you probably don't need a rehearsal. You can simply tell people the order of the ceremony and line up. 

  • I think you need to either budget for a very low cost RD (pizza and beer or even lasagnas cooked in a church oven) or just don't have an RD.

    Are there places where you can cut the cost?  I think that your WP is probably going to be traveling on the day before your ceremony anyway so if it's possible to get them a meal it's really the nice thing to do. 
  • I think we need to know more about how "out of town" the wedding is. Is the wedding party and immediate family planning on doing the drive for the wedding that day, or are people all staying in hotels closer to the wedding venue for the night of the wedding? Do you know if they're already planning to stay the night before or not? Do you know if this would be a hassle for them?

    If people are planning on only coming for the day, or only coming for 1 night, I'd skip the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner entirely. If you expect people to be staying nearby the night before the wedding, i'd definitely host a "rehearsal dinner" even if you don't have an actual rehearsal. But ordering some pizzas is fine, it doesn't' have to be fancy. It just has to be hosted. 
  • One of the most fun RDs I went to was pizza, snacks & drinks (beer/soda) at the hotel! We brought everything down by the pool area and just hung out together. If you're having a rehearsal, you need to at least budget for that. If your wedding is super OOT and people may be coming in last minute-ish, maybe reconsider if you actually need the rehearsal.
  • Agree with other PPs.  Rehearsals are usually not necessary.  If there is no rehearsal, than no rehearsal dinner is necessary.  And rehearsal dinners can be very low cost and casual, as long as people are fed.

    My H and I had a small wedding at my mom/stepdad's house.  We were going to have a rehearsal dinner, except our officiant couldn't attend at the last minute.  NBD.  We still had a rehearsal dinner of homecooked dishes from my mom/stepdad's kitchen.

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  • We got married on a Friday.  Several members of our WP couldn't get out of work early Thursday and then also Friday so we hosted our RH the weekend before, at our home.  We had BBQ and sides, soda and beer.  No one had to bring anything but themselves. It was relaxed and low key and everyone enjoyed it.  The night before and morning of the wedding were relaxed and we didn't have 1000 questions about what was going on because we went over it all the week before (and any remaining questions were brought up during the week prior).  

    How OOT is your wedding? Could you maybe do it the weekend before at a park/public space?  Just do simple BBQ/cookout food and have cans of soda/water/beer and call it a day?  
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