Who Gets an Invitation to the Rehearsal Dinner?

Making the guest list for this pre-wedding party can be tricky.

guests watching
Photo: Audrey Hall & Melanie Maganias Nashan

If you're starting to plan your rehearsal dinner, then you've probably given at least some thought to the guest list. Some invites are easy-immediate family members and the bridal party are obvious attendees, but what about your bridesmaids' plus-ones? Or your brother's new girlfriend? Etiquette dictates that all out-of-town guests should be invited to this pre-wedding party, but what if more than half of your big-day attendees are traveling for the ceremony and reception? Crafting the guest list for this event can be almost as difficult as deciding who gets invited to the wedding! That's why we're sharing a few helpful tips that will help you determine exactly who should attend your rehearsal dinner.

Here's who definitely gets an invite.

Your immediate families, the bridal party (including the parents of the flower girl and ring bearer, even if they're not in the wedding), any ceremony readers, and your officiant (plus his or her spouse, if married) should always be invited to the rehearsal dinner. Simply put: Anyone who will be at the wedding rehearsal should also be included in the celebration held after. Any married members of your bridal party should also be given the option of attending with his or her spouse.

Here's who you might want to invite.

If space and budget allows, it's nice to give your entire bridal party the option of bringing a plus-one, even if they're not married or in a serious relationship. This ensures that everyone who is at the rehearsal dinner knows someone, and that any plus-ones who are traveling to attend the wedding have something to do the evening before the big event. You may also want to invite both of your extended families, including grandparents, aunts and uncles, and close cousins, since the rehearsal dinner is a good opportunity for your families to get to know each other.

The truth about out-of-town guests.

If you're tying the knot in your hometown and have just a handful of out-of-town guests traveling for the big day, it's a thoughtful gesture to include them at this pre-wedding event. But if you're hosting a destination wedding, or else the majority of your guest list is traveling for the big day, you don't have to invite everyone to the rehearsal dinner-otherwise you'll end up with a party that's just as big as your wedding! Instead, consider organizing a welcome celebration (assuming your budget allows). Something as formal as a sit-down dinner or as low-key as cocktails at a nearby bar is perfect.

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