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Destination Weddings

rehearsal dinner etiquette for destination weddings

Hi all, 
wasn't sure if this is better for Etiquette board or here, but here is my question: 
We live in NYC and are getting married in a beautiful city in Europe where I grew up and where my family and close friends from growing up still live (decided not to disclose for privacy reasons, sorry), and fortunately FI's family and many of our friends from here will be able to make the trip. We are expecting about 80-100 guests. Other than the wedding itself, we are thinking of inviting everyone to a brunch the morning after the wedding at the hotel where will be staying. I am not sure what to do about a 'rehearsal dinner' though - should it be 'just family' or 'family and OOT guests' (but then, >50% of the guests will be OOT, so I feel like it would be rude to invite the majority of guests to something but not all of them?? But then we are basically talking about us hosting a second wedding-size event which will probably get expensive very quickly? Any ideas? One thing I was thinking was maybe invite everyone to welcome drinks? 
Just to clarify - we are not actually rehearsing anything, it would be just a fun get-together. 
Thanks!
- The stars, like dust, encircle me in living mists of light. And all of space I seem to see in one vast burst of sight. 

Re: rehearsal dinner etiquette for destination weddings

  • Jells2dot0Jells2dot0 Cowtown mod
    Moderator Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its

    A rehearsal dinner is hosted after the rehearsal to host those who participated in the rehearsal event. So, if you are not having a rehearsal, then you are not expected to have a RD.

    Hosting anyone the night before the wedding is not required, but if you choose to do something, then make sure it is properly hosted according to the time of day. So, if you want to do welcome drinks at 5pm, then you should also host very heavy appetizers or a full meal. If you do something at 2pm, that is considered a non-meal time, so you could do drinks a light apps or cake/pastries.

     







  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited March 2015
    mj8215 said:

    Hi all, 

    wasn't sure if this is better for Etiquette board or here, but here is my question: 
    We live in NYC and are getting married in a beautiful city in Europe where I grew up and where my family and close friends from growing up still live (decided not to disclose for privacy reasons, sorry), and fortunately FI's family and many of our friends from here will be able to make the trip. We are expecting about 80-100 guests. Other than the wedding itself, we are thinking of inviting everyone to a brunch the morning after the wedding at the hotel where will be staying. I am not sure what to do about a 'rehearsal dinner' though - should it be 'just family' or 'family and OOT guests' (but then, >50% of the guests will be OOT, so I feel like it would be rude to invite the majority of guests to something but not all of them?? But then we are basically talking about us hosting a second wedding-size event which will probably get expensive very quickly? Any ideas? One thing I was thinking was maybe invite everyone to welcome drinks? 
    Just to clarify - we are not actually rehearsing anything, it would be just a fun get-together. 
    Thanks!
    I see no reason why you can't have a traditional rehearsal dinner which includes your wedding party and immediate family.  I have attended several OOT weddings and had no expectation of being hosted outside the actual wedding.  A brunch following the wedding would be thoughtful, and in my opinion, more enjoyable because the stress and chaos of the wedding is behind you.

    ETA:   I just noticed you are not actually having a rehearsal dinner, but more of an intimate dinner for your wedding party.  Your other wedding guests really won't be privy to that information, so no harm/no foul in that respect. 
  • Thanks for your response! I guess I feel kind of obligated to "do something" in addition to the actual wedding since people took it upon themselves to purchase expensive plane tickets and fly across the Atlantic... does that make sense? 
    So, maybe an after-dinner time for welcome drinks then (wedding itself is the following day in the late afternoon)? Or just find an inexpensive pizza place or something and host everyone for welcome dinner - but again, are we talking 80-100 people then? 
    I guess I am asking, if you were one of our guests flying in from the US, would you expect some kind of hosted activity the day before the wedding? 

    - The stars, like dust, encircle me in living mists of light. And all of space I seem to see in one vast burst of sight. 
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    mj8215 said:

    Thanks for your response! I guess I feel kind of obligated to "do something" in addition to the actual wedding since people took it upon themselves to purchase expensive plane tickets and fly across the Atlantic... does that make sense? 

    So, maybe an after-dinner time for welcome drinks then (wedding itself is the following day in the late afternoon)? Or just find an inexpensive pizza place or something and host everyone for welcome dinner - but again, are we talking 80-100 people then? 
    I guess I am asking, if you were one of our guests flying in from the US, would you expect some kind of hosted activity the day before the wedding? 

    I personally would not expect a hosted activity.  I would assume that the bride and groom would be busy with typical "wedding eve" responsibilities.  Since you are from the area, however, providing your guests information regarding good places to eat and fun places to go would be a nice touch.  Unless you knew the personal itinerary of each guest, trying to coordinate something would be difficult.  If I were travelling to Europe and knew I would be spending at least one full day with wedding events, I would enjoy some time just sight seeing and soaking up the local interests.
  • flantasticflantastic The Midwest member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    mj8215 said:

    Thanks for your response! I guess I feel kind of obligated to "do something" in addition to the actual wedding since people took it upon themselves to purchase expensive plane tickets and fly across the Atlantic... does that make sense? 

    So, maybe an after-dinner time for welcome drinks then (wedding itself is the following day in the late afternoon)? Or just find an inexpensive pizza place or something and host everyone for welcome dinner - but again, are we talking 80-100 people then? 
    I guess I am asking, if you were one of our guests flying in from the US, would you expect some kind of hosted activity the day before the wedding? 

    I would never expect to be hosted beyond the reception of the event I was flying out for. It's perfectly fine if you only host them for the ceremony and reception, as long as that's truly well hosted. If it were made clear my presence was required at the rehearsal, I would expect to be hosted at the RD.
  • Dreamergirl8812Dreamergirl8812 your closet member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer
    If I was flying in for your wedding I would probably like to see you the night before the wedding but would not expect to be hosted. Would you feel comfortable letting people know via word of mouth that you will be at a particular pub the night before the wedding? That way people can flow in and out as they see fit, and eat or drink where and how much they please without expecting it hosted.

    Though please correct me if this is bad etiquette.



    Anniversary
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  • My family tends to have weddings that are OOT for most people and sometimes we get invited to the rehearsal dinner, other times not. It's not required at all but even if we don't get invited to the rehearsal it's still nice to see the B&G the night before, even if we aren't "hosted" or anything. When my sis got married she knew everyone was staying at the same hotel so after the RD we all popped over just to say hello.
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  • princessleia22princessleia22 Oceanfront Property in Arizona member
    Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Answer

    I wouldn't expect to be hosted for anything other than the wedding.  And honestly, I'd probably prefer not to have events scheduled everyday, as I'd probably want to sightsee a little while there. So, I think you are fine with having a rehearsal dinner for just the people attending the rehearsal.

    If you did want to host something for everyone, just something simple may be a good idea. The after dinner drinks may be a good option.  Or for mine, we just ordered a few pizzas and soda for everyone and hung out in the breakfast lounge area of our hotel (we had about 30 people and the hotel said it was okay at no charge).  Most people attended, but a few preferred to sightsee or experience the local cuisine instead of joining us for pizza.

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  • WinstonsGirlWinstonsGirl The Cold North member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    You are under no obligation to host anyone other than at the wedding (and RD if you have a rehearsal).  That said, I get wanting to do something since people are paying more to go to your wedding that they normally would.  

    We got married in Hawaii and offered several optional activities if guests wanted to get together.  1 was a beach day, 2 different nights of watching fireworks (one before the wedding, one after) then going to a local bar for drinks (not hosted) and 1 day of snorkelling.  We paid for rentals on that day.  The drinks/beach, we had maybe 5-10 people max, and about 10-15 joined us for snorkelling.  We had 40 guests total.  

    We made it clear the activities were optional and what was hosted and not so that people could decide if they wanted to join us.  We were there for 10 days ourselves, so really, only 2 days were booked other than the wedding.  We knew some people would want to see us/family/friends and others would want to have their own vacation time.  

    Is there something low key you could do, like sightseeing/famous landmark or similar that might not cost as much??  As others have said, if you do something during a non-meal time, you can serve snacks and drinks (doesn't have to be alcoholic) instead of a  meal, cutting down on expenses.  Or perhaps saying you're going to be at such and such pub on this date, anyone is welcome to join you to catch up?  Some people might not want to attend, choosing to go see things they were planning to do on vacation anyway.  I hope that helps with some ideas.  
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  • Thanks Everyone for the great advice! I think we will do dinner with only family and bridal party and invite all guests to after-dinner welcome drinks (I'm guessing it would be about 30-50 people who would come out for drinks). Will definitely try to come up with some good sightseeing ideas as you guys suggested. And then we'll have the day-after brunch. And of course the wedding itself :) getting excited :D 
    - The stars, like dust, encircle me in living mists of light. And all of space I seem to see in one vast burst of sight. 
  • mj8215 said:

    Thanks Everyone for the great advice! I think we will do dinner with only family and bridal party  

    That is what we did! There were only 2 non-family couples in the wedding from the US and their accommodations were far enough out from our venue that it would have been inconveniencing them anyway.

    Oh and we didn't rehearse anything. We just hosted a dinner because people gotta eat. :)
  • mj8215mj8215 member
    100 Comments 100 Love Its First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited April 2015
    So, just to give you ladies an update, after some deliberation we decided that we will go ahead and invite everyone. yes it ups the budget (although not quite as bad as I originally thought), but hey, these people are jetting across the Atlantic to see us get married (or they are local which means that they are my family or I stayed close friends with them despite moving to the US almost 4 years ago, so how could we exclude them). 

    At this point we are assuming the attitude "Wedding = expensive. Not much to do about it. We are rolling with it". I guess we just feel like its not worth the stress of figuring out who to invite / who not to invite etc etc. And it will not be formal or anything, basically a fun all-you-can-eat middle eastern buffet at my family's favorite restaurant. This way its not necessarily a sit-down event the whole time/ people can move back and forth and mingle. 

    This also makes FILs happy since they really want to include their friends for dinner the night before (and just including family and FILs' friends would not have worked for me).

    Edited for paragraphs/ clarity
    - The stars, like dust, encircle me in living mists of light. And all of space I seem to see in one vast burst of sight. 
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