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Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette

April 4, 2013

Clearing the Table of your Rehearsal Dinner Questions

As your “go-to” Eastern Shore bridal experts, we have noticed a trend in questions we’ve been receiving from you bridal beauties- everyone wants the inside scoop on rehearsal dinners! How long should they be? Who picks up the tab? Who gets to attend? What to wear and, of course, the best Eastern Shore locations for one of these shindigs!

We can tell you that a rehearsal dinner can be a tough nut to crack if you’re not sure what you want; but have no fear – this tradition will be fun! The challenge is that no two weddings are the same- sooo no two rehearsal dinners will be either. You can tailor it completely to your liking. Which leaves you and your groom with just one thing… MORE CHOICES!

Let’s get started with the basics: What exactly is a rehearsal dinner? It’s a dinner held after the wedding rehearsal- which takes place usually the afternoon or evening before the wedding. It allows time for the wedding party and the bride’s & groom’s families to get acquainted before the big day to come. It’s also a great time to toast and thank everyone who has contributed to your special day. If you are having trouble getting into the wedding mood, this intimate party should help you get geared up to spread the love!

The best part of the rehearsal dinner is that not all 10,000 of your guests will be in attendance, so it can be much more personal and relaxed than the actually wedding. You don’t have to worry about saying “hi” to your great grandma’s ex-neighbor’s dentist. In fact, the rehearsal dinner should be the opposite! The guest list customarily includes you and your soon-to-be- hubby, your immediate families, the wedding party, and the officiant and his or her spouse. Or you can expand the guest list, by including all the out-of-town guests if you’re concerned that they’ll feel left out. Although when it comes to the Eastern Shore, it won’t be hard for them to find something fun to fill their time. Here’s my opinion: It’s a sweet thought to include them. However, if you don’t think it’s your cup of tea, include a list of local restaurants or things to do in the area in their hotel rooms or on your wedding website.

When you’re deciding on who should attend, make sure to check with whoever is going to pay the bill. This could influence the number of people who attend or call attention to a special guest who may have been left out otherwise. Tradition says that the groom’s parents take on the responsibility of hosting and paying for this event but recently we have seen the bride and groom picking up the tab for this one more frequently.

Remember how we said that these dinners can be tailored to fit your style? Well, when it comes to the formality of your rehearsal dinner, it’s all up to you! Although it can be fun to get all dressed up it can also be really awesome to have a totally casual event. Anything goes here, from jeans, T-shirts and pizza all the way to gourmet hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and heels. {May we suggest a traditional Eastern Shore crab feast??!!} How great would it be to have a themed rehearsal dinner, everyone has to wear a funny hat or animal print or even better, bring back a childhood memory and have a tea party, white gloves and all! Let your creative side loose and be yourselves here. You’re going to be surrounded by your closest loved ones so no rules apply!!!!

When it comes to what to wear, you want to look pretty, feel comfortable but keep within the dinner’s style. Don’t think that just because you’re the bride it’s a good idea to wear a ball gown to a casual rehearsal dinner! If you’re having a very casual get together, go with a sweet lightweight sundress with fun rope sandals and shell jewelry to tie in the Eastern Shore vibe! If you’re having a dressier dinner, white lace and open backs are super popular this year. The most important thing to remember is if you don’t feel beautiful in it, don’t wear it. Your wedding events place you center stage so if you don’t feel radiant and happy in your attire, make a change!

If you’re getting married on the Eastern Shore there are TONS of great places to have your rehearsal dinner! St. Michaels has some wonderful places on the water to enjoy delicious local seafood while soaking in some of the prettiest views around! Have a waterfront crab feast at one of our most popular restaurants, The Crab Claw, where they’ve been steaming the largest and meatiest crabs since 1965 or take your loved ones on a sunset tour of the Miles River onboard the The Patriot, a two-level, 149 passenger cruise boat for a memorable rehearsal dinner experience. The Harbour Inn has a wonderful new deck on the harbor and features great food. The Miles River Yacht Club also has open river views and a yummy menu. The Oaks in Royal Oak often hosts its wedding guest’s rehearsal dinner on its dock and serves up fabulous traditional picnic fare among other options. Harbourtowne in Martingham in St. Michaels has a lovely waterfront patio and some of the widest views that their guests will never forget along with great cuisine. In Easton, The Tidewater Inn is super proud of it’s new he Gold Room Garden, and Skipjack Bar. This is a wonderful addition to the Inn’s several dining spaces and people are loving it. The Bartlett Pear Inn has a pretty, scenic patio at the Inn’s side where Chef Jordan serves a his special signature dishes. Cambridge and Oxford also feature some of the best Eastern Shore eats around. Stop by the trendsetting gastropub, The High Spot in Cambridge, and share toasts over delicious high-end food in a relaxed atmosphere or visit the prettiest town in Maryland and enjoy the fabulous view and menu at The Masthead’s waterfront deck in charming Oxford.

Since it will be such a touching night it may be a good idea to have a photographer come to document all the special moments. It’s also nice to ask anyone who gives a speech or toast to have a hard copy for the bride and groom to include in a wedding day scrapbook. Another idea is to ask someone other than the bride and groom to collect the speeches and save them to give as an anniversary present a year or two down the line.
GOOD LUCK LADIES! Hope this helped!


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