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Navigating The Rehearsal Dinner August 1, 2016

Rehearsal dinners are a fun wedding tradition that typically take place the night before a couple walks down the aisle. The immediate families of the bride and groom as well as any additional members of the wedding party are on hand for the rehearsal dinner, which often follows a walk-through of the wedding ceremony.

The rehearsal dinner is usually a laid-back affair, but there are some things couples must navigate as they sit down to their last dinner together before becoming husband and wife.

Guest List

It is customary to invite anyone participating in the wedding, including bridesmaids, groomsmen, ushers, flower girls, and ring bearers, to the rehearsal dinner. In addition to those in the wedding, family members, such as parents of both the bride and groom and their respective siblings who are not in the wedding, also are invited to traditional rehearsal dinners.

Menu

If the rehearsal dinner will take place at a restaurant, the couple should try to find a restaurant that can cater to various tastes. Rehearsal dinner parties tend to be large, and within the party a couple may have guests who are vegetarian or on gluten-free diets or those who need to avoid certain foods. The more versatile the menu, the more capable an establishment is likely to be with regard to meeting the various needs of the party.

While many rehearsal dinners are held at restaurants, it's not unheard of to host a dinner party at another location, such as the home of the bride's or groom's parents. If the couple plans to go this route, they should be sure to provide a variety of food so no one goes home hungry.

Booking

If the couple is hosting a rehearsal dinner at a restaurant, booking a reservation should be near the top of their priority list once they have chosen a date for the wedding. It's not always easy to find restaurants that can accommodate especially large parties, nor is it easy to find restaurants that can accommodate the unique diets of potential party guests. So try to book a reservation three to six months in advance of the dinner. If the couple is getting married during an especially popular month to tie the knot, such as June or October, they should try to make the reservation even earlier. The longer the wait, the more likely it is that other couples will book the restaurant for their rehearsal dinners. Starting early also gives the couple more time to find the ideal restaurant to host the dinner.

Tab

Many wedding traditions have fallen by the wayside over the last several decades, and that includes who is picking up the tab. In the past, the brides' parents paid for the wedding while the grooms' parents were expected to pick up the tab for the rehearsal dinner. But many couples now pay for their own weddings, and those who are footing the bill should include the rehearsal dinner in their wedding budgets. If parents offer to pay or split the tab, couples can take them up on their generous offer. But it is still to a couple's advantage to expect to pay for their rehearsal dinners.

Rehearsal dinners are an enjoyable tradition that affords couples the chance to sit down with their closest friends and family members and enjoy a great meal together. Planning ahead can make the dinner even more enjoyable.

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Tips For Toasting The Bride And Groom August 1, 2016

Wedding toasts are a tradition to which many guests and wedding participants look forward. An opportunity for maids of honor and best men to express their feelings about the bride and groom, wedding toasts often touch on the heartfelt and the humorous while shedding light on the relationship between the happy couple and the men and women they have chosen to play such significant roles at their wedding.

While guests might enjoy wedding toasts, best men and maids of honor may be nervous about honoring the brides and grooms in such public settings. That anxiety is perfectly normal, especially for those who have never before been asked to serve as maids of honor or best men. Those tasked with toasting the newly anointed husband and wife can consider the following tips to make the task a little easier.

· Keep it brief. While there might be many things you want to say, try to be as concise as possible. Convey your relationship to the bride and/or groom, but avoid lengthy histories that might come off as rambling. While personal anecdotes that shed some humorous light on the relationship are great additions to wedding toasts, avoid going into too much detail when telling such stories, focusing instead on the parts of the stories that illustrate your feelings and generate a few laughs.

· Avoid being too formal. Even the most formal wedding can benefit from a toast that veers more toward the spontaneous. While you want to thank the parents of the bride and groom for hosting the wedding and the guests for being on hand to celebrate, there is no need to be especially formal. Giving a less formal speech also may help calm your nerves.

· Practice, practice, practice. Practice your speech ahead of time so you are not reading from cards or notepads during the toast. Reading from a piece of paper is less likely to engage the audience than speaking to them directly and sharing some heartfelt thoughts about the bride and groom. It's all right to hold onto some cue cards while delivering your toast, but practicing the toast as the wedding draws near will boost your confidence and make you more comfortable with the microphone in hand.

· Stay appropriate. Humor adds a lot to wedding toasts, but make sure to clean up any humorous anecdotes so they can be shared with all wedding guests, including children. In addition, avoid stories that, while humorous, may embarrass the bride and groom.

· Share well wishes. Before you raise your glass and ask guests to do the same, express some heartfelt well wishes for the bride and groom. Doing so is a fitting end to a tradition that's meant to highlight the special relationship brides and grooms have with their maids of honor and best men.

Maids of honor and best men making their first wedding toasts may be nervous in advance of the big day, but there are ways to calm those nerves and deliver heartfelt, memorable toasts.

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Table for 20? September 3, 2013

One of the final responsibilities a couple has before tying the knot is planning the rehearsal dinner. Typically held the night before the wedding, the rehearsal dinner is an opportunity for the families of the bride- and groom-to-be and the members of the bridal party to get to know one another over a good meal.

Planning a rehearsal dinner is much less complicated than planning the wedding, but couples still must take steps in advance of the dinner to ensure it goes smoothly.

* Choose the right restaurant. Couples who are having their ceremony and reception at the same venue may be able to have their rehearsal dinner at the venue, as well. But many couples still prefer the rehearsal dinner to be held at a different restaurant. Be sure to make a reservation several weeks in advance and choose a restaurant that's fully capable of accommodating your party. The restaurant should have a menu that's versatile enough to accommodate guests on special diets or those who are vegetarian or vegan. The rehearsal dinner party can be quite large, so you'll want to make your reservation as early as possible so you can get the restaurant of your choice. The larger the group, the earlier you should make the reservation.

* Invite the right guests. Some couples may be confused about who should be invited to the rehearsal dinner. Wedding party members and their significant others should always make the cut, as should the parents of both the bride and groom, as well as the person officiating the wedding. Children who will be in the wedding and their parents also should be invited. Many couples also invite their immediate family members and siblings, even if those relatives are not in the wedding.

* Determine in advance who is paying. The groom's family traditionally pays for the rehearsal dinner, but that tradition has largely fallen by the wayside. Couples should determine in advance who will be paying for the dinner so there's no confusion once the meal is over. Couples who are handling the bill for their weddings should include the rehearsal dinner in their overall wedding budget.

* Try to create a relaxed atmosphere. Many of the people invited to the rehearsal dinner may be meeting one another for the first time, so couples should aim to create a relaxed atmosphere to reduce any nervousness and tension. The rehearsal dinner may also be the only time couples can relax and let their hair down with their family and friends, as the wedding day itself and the ensuing reception can be hectic. So take advantage of the more relaxed atmosphere and share a few laughs with those closest to you.

* Bring the gifts for members of your wedding party. The rehearsal dinner is when brides- and grooms-to-be give their bridesmaids and groomsmen their gifts. If the gifts are especially large, you might want to give them before you enter the restaurant or even back at the hotel. But in many cases, it's perfectly all right to give out the bridesmaid and groomsmen gifts at the rehearsal dinner.

* Allow time for toasts. Toasts are not just a tradition of the wedding reception; they are also a tradition of the rehearsal dinner. The couple's parents often want to toast the bride- and groom-to-be, and such a toast may be conducted in tandem. But the groom is also expected to give a toast, most notably to his bride-to-be. In addition, the couple walking down the aisle can toast their bridal party during the rehearsal dinner, thanking them for being a part of the big day.

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