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Inspiration » Wedding Planning » Who is Invited to the Rehearsal Dinner?

Who is Invited to the Rehearsal Dinner?

by Heather Taylor
Who to Invite to Your Rehearsal Dinner

Finalizing the guest list for your wedding rehearsal dinner isn’t as easy as it may seem. Your wedding day is a special occasion, after all. It’s natural to want your loved ones to celebrate the big day, and all the wedding weekend events leading up to it, with you.

But many couples may feel pressured to determine who receives an invitation to the rehearsal dinner. Should you stick just to the wedding party and family members? What about inviting other relatives such as grandparents or godparents? Is it a good idea to extend out-of-town guests an invitation? What do you do if your wedding is a destination wedding, where everyone is technically an out-of-town guest? Should you just invite everyone who RSVP’d to the wedding and call it a night?

Keep calm and remember: Rehearsal dinners do not need every wedding day guest in attendance. Figuring out who to invite to the rehearsal dinner means you have to go back to the basics.

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Who Goes to a Rehearsal Dinner?

wedding name placement on dinner table

Traditionally speaking, who should attend the rehearsal dinner? According to the Emily Post Institute, the following individuals should be invited:

The Couple

As the stars of the wedding, both individuals are always invited to the rehearsal dinner. During the rehearsal dinner, the couple will practice walking down the aisle, exchanging vows, and the timing of their procession.

The Wedding Party

It’s common for couples to invite the wedding party to their rehearsal dinner. Doing so helps the entire wedding party get to know each other and break the ice. Rehearsal dinners are an excellent way to express gratitude to your wedding party for joining you on your big day. 

Parents of Young Attendants

It’s courteous to invite the parents of young wedding attendants to your rehearsal dinner, such as the parents of flower girls and ring bearers. Because the rehearsal dinner includes a practice session or two, young children in your wedding party will feel more comfortable with their parents present. It’s also helpful for the parents to watch the rehearsal so they can help their child prepare.

Immediate Family

Immediate family should be invited to the rehearsal dinner because it’s an opportunity for the couple and their new family members to spend time together before the wedding. Immediate family members such as moms, dads, sisters, and brothers can also provide emotional support and help with any final wedding preparations.

Should Anyone Else Be Invited to the Rehearsal Dinner?

gourmet meal on a plate surrounded by glassware

Many wedding planners agree with the rehearsal dinner guest list rules from Emily Post. But at the end of the day, who gets an invitation to the rehearsal dinner is ultimately up to the couple and their available budget. In addition to those listed above, the following individuals may also receive a rehearsal dinner invitation.

Anyone With a Role in the Wedding Ceremony

Anyone who is in your wedding ceremony should be invited to the rehearsal dinner. Irene St. Onge, a New York City-based wedding planner behind Soirée Special Events, has overseen countless wedding rehearsal dinners. She advises anyone with a role in the ceremony, in any capacity, to be invited to the rehearsal dinner. Beyond the wedding party, ring bearer, and flower girl (or flower person), this includes:

  • Readers
  • Ushers
  • People bringing up gifts

Each individual should also receive a plus-one invitation out of courtesy. While it’s not required, offering a plus-one invitation for those in the wedding ceremony can make them feel more comfortable because they have someone familiar they can talk to during dinner. 

Your Wedding Officiant

While your wedding officiant should be invited to the rehearsal dinner, St. Onge says not to be too disappointed if they decline the invitation.

“Depending on the relationship, the officiant doesn’t always take you up on it,” she says. “Nonetheless, they should be invited as a gesture of thanks.”

Should Out-of-Town Guests Be Invited to the Rehearsal Dinner?

One of the most common questions about rehearsal dinners is whether out-of-town guests should be invited. Kylie Kinnaman, a bride who was married in 2019, says that a good rule of thumb for inviting out-of-town guests to the rehearsal dinner is the hotel rule. 

“If a guest is staying at a hotel the night before the wedding, they should be invited to the rehearsal dinner,” she says. “This implies that they likely traveled an hour or more to attend the event.”

Wedding and elopement photographer Karen Norian also agrees with Kinnaman. Norian, who works for Simply Eloped, has planned hundreds of budget-friendly elopements and intimate weddings across the United States.

“If guests are traveling to your wedding, it’s a thoughtful gesture to invite them to your rehearsal dinner,” Norian says.

Who to Invite to a Destination Wedding Rehearsal Dinner 

people drinking liquor and socializing at dinner table

“For destination weddings where many friends and family are traveling for the big day, the guests who are arriving in time for your rehearsal dinner should be included,” Kinnaman says. 

But remember, destination weddings tend to come with a higher price tag than traditional weddings. For that reason, it may not be financially feasible to invite everyone attending the ceremony to the destination wedding rehearsal dinner.

If you’re planning a destination wedding rehearsal dinner, remember that clearly communicating and managing the expectations of your guests will be key to your success.

Frequently Asked Questions About Rehearsal Dinner Guest Lists

glassware and dinnerware on a table

Do you invite grandparents to the rehearsal dinner?

It depends. Whether you invite your grandparents to the rehearsal dinner depends on your relationship and budget. You should also consider any age-related mobility needs that you may need to accommodate at your rehearsal dinner venue.

Do aunts and uncles attend rehearsal dinners?

It depends. Couples with close relationships to their aunts and uncles may invite them to the rehearsal dinner if their budget allows. 

Do all wedding guests go to the rehearsal dinner?

No, not all wedding guests go to the rehearsal dinner. Usually, the rehearsal dinner is reserved for close friends, family, and the wedding party. Additionally, inviting all wedding guests to a rehearsal dinner would be costly.

Need Help Managing Your Guest List?

Let Joy assist you with managing the details for your big day! With just a few taps and clicks, Joy’s free guest list manager can help organize guests, assign plus ones, and allow guests to RSVP with electronic invites to your website or app.

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family at rehearsal dinner

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