Rehearsal Dinner : What happens

A few elements are generally incorporated into the festivities—here’s what to expect:

The Meet and Greet

The rehearsal dinner is your chance to welcome everyone. Walk around and catch up with loved ones (and meet more of the in-laws) throughout the evening, because the wedding night will most likely be a bit of a blur.

The Gift Exchange

You may hand out the bridal-party gifts at this occasion, but do it subtly. No matter what, take a moment to stand and thank your bridal party for their support. Parent gifts can also be presented at the rehearsal dinner, but we prefer a more private time. Parents will often break down in tears, and the gift exchange can be a nice last moment for you to connect with them before the festivities. Some brides and grooms also use the occasion to present each other with special wedding gifts or surprises.

The Toast

As dessert winds down, the toasts begin. As host of the party, the groom’s father (sometimes along with the groom’s mother) typically goes to bat first, toasting his soon-to-be daughter-in-law and her family. Next up: Traditionally, the groom also toasts his new wife, the guests, and the hosts, but there’s no reason why both of you can’t stand up to thank everyone together, if you’d prefer.

The Friendly Reminder

While everyone is still seated and you have their attention, it’s also your chance to slip in a few last-minute refreshers about the next day. Before calling it a night, double-check that everyone in the wedding party knows exactly where to go the next day, what things they’re supposed to bring, and when and where they are expected to arrive to get ready. If you have a broader audience, remind guests about any activities for them the next day, as well as pick-up times and locations for transportation you’ve arranged to get them to and from the ceremony.