Whether you're planning a destination wedding or an event in your own hometown, you're bound to have guests who have to travel in order to celebrate with you. It's customary to invite out-of-towners to the rehearsal dinner, but does that mean everyone who's traveled in some capacity needs an invitation to this pre-wedding event? The etiquette can be tricky, so we turned to the experts and got their best advice on inviting traveling guests to the rehearsal dinner.
First, consider whether you want an intimate rehearsal dinner with your closest friends and family, or whether you want to use this event as an opportunity to spend time with some of your other guests, including those you don't see often and have traveled to be there. No matter what you decide, your out-of-town guests should feel taken care of.
Michelle Leo, owner of Michelle Leo Events, doesn't think couples should feel obligated to include out-of-town guests at the rehearsal dinner. "I don't feel it's necessary for the bride and groom to entertain all guests for both events," she says, "I find that the best rehearsal dinners include immediate family and close friends. It's a time for this particular group to bond, toast, and spend time together before the big event the following day."
"If you prefer to have an intimate rehearsal dinner, consider hosting a dessert and bubbly welcome event for out-of-town guests later in the evening," event planner Marcy Blum suggests. This is a great alternative to inviting all guests to the rehearsal dinner and gives you the best of both worlds! Guests will feel thanked for their travel and included in the celebration.
"We've had a lot of clients say that they were happy they invited a larger group to the rehearsal dinner, because they were able to visit with more guests ahead of time and be fully present the night of the wedding," Susie Papadin, event producer at Shelter Co., shares, "We've also had clients who enjoyed the intimacy of being with a close knit group who calmed their nerves and allowed them to fully relax heading into the big day," she says. In the end, Susie suggests basing your invite list on what you and your future spouse are comfortable with rather than on how far someone has traveled to be there.