The wedding ceremony rehearsal usually takes place at the end of the day before the wedding day. It is almost always followed by an invitation to bridal luncheon, which is commonly referred to as the pre-wedding rehearsal dinner. If circumstances prevent the priest or one of the bride and groom’s companions from participating in the wedding ceremony rehearsal, it may be held later, either after lunch or the next morning. However, the invitation to the pre-wedding dinner remains valid in any case.
It is now an almost universally established custom that the groom’s parents give the rehearsal dinner, although it is not obligatory. The essence of this touching gesture is that his family expresses a desire to at least partially compensate for the trouble and expense incurred by the bride’s family in preparing for the wedding festivities. If the groom’s father and mother come from out of town, they can ask the mother of the bride to reserve a dining room at a restaurant or club and consult with her about which of the bride’s relatives should be invited, so they know exactly how many people to order for dinner. After that, they should contact the manager by phone or send him a letter and make reservations. When the groom’s parents arrive the day before the wedding in the city where the celebration is to be held, they will have to go without delay to the restaurant or club where the rehearsal dinner will be held and make final arrangements for everything that is needed. If, for some reason, the groom’s family cannot give the pre-wedding dinner, it can be arranged by relatives or close friends of the bride’s parents.
Invitations for bridal luncheon
Invitations, as a rule, are sent on standard postcards with printed text or filled in by hand. Guests can also be invited by telephone, but since the guests are usually newcomers, it is better to send written invitations, as they will have the address of the restaurant with the time of the reception and other necessary information.
At the pre-wedding dinner it is customary to invite all participants in the wedding ceremony (except for the youngest – girls with flowers, pageboys and boys carrying rings), the closest relatives of the bride and groom, as well as those relatives who have come to the celebration from other cities. When conditions and financial resources permit, it is not uncommon to invite a few close friends to the reception as well, especially those who have come from far away. If the priest conducting the wedding ceremony is a friend of one of the families or has come from another city especially to marry the young couple, he and his wife should also be invited to the pre-wedding dinner.
Husbands and wives, grooms and brides, as well as friends and girlfriends who live with the participants of the wedding ceremony, also come to the reception, but casual acquaintances are not invited.
Seating of guests
The U-shaped table is optimal for a large reception. The bride and groom, who sits on the left hand of the groom, take seats on the outer side of the upper rung of the letter “U”, and participants of the wedding ceremony take seats next to them. The witness sits next to the bride and the bridesmaid sits next to the groom. If there are many people taking part in the ceremony, some of them may take seats opposite the bride and groom on the inside of the upper rung of the letter “U”. The groom’s parents or hosts of the reception – sit, respectively, at the ends of the left and right rungs of the letter “P.” The mother of the bride takes a seat to the right of the father of the groom, and the father of the bride takes a seat to the right of the mother of the groom. The other guests are seated as it is more convenient for the pre-wedding meal. Grandparents of the young couple are usually invited to sit close to the parents of the groom and the bride, and young people – not far from the heroes of the occasion.
Pre-wedding rehearsal dinner is usually given by the groom’s family. It (dinner) may be both modest and refined, depending on the desire of the hosts. The above scheme assumes a fairly large number of invitees. If the reception will be attended by more people, the guests may be seated at tables attached to those that make up the side rungs of the letter “U”. In doing so, the main considerations should be mutual sympathy and the interest of the table mates for each other, so that everyone invited gets as much pleasure and enjoyment out of the meal as possible.
For a more modest reception, a rectangular shaped table is best. The bride and groom can sit in the center of one of its long sides, the witnesses next to them, the host and hostess on either short side of the table, and the other guests on the opposite side from the bride and groom.
When the pre-wedding dinner is given at a rectangular table, the bride and groom may sit across from the witnesses and other wedding party, while the young couple’s relatives take the remaining seats.
During the bridal luncheon
The pre-wedding rehearsal dinner is a great opportunity for the bride and groom to give gifts to the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Witnesses, in turn, can present gifts to the newlyweds on behalf of the bridesmaids and groomsmen, before making toasts in honor of the bride and groom.
The host, usually the father of the groom, makes the first toast, welcoming the guests and sharing his joy with those present about the impending marriage. The father of the bride makes the return toast, after which the best men and all the other guests may take the floor.
Toasts of the participants of the upcoming wedding ceremony are usually informal in nature, they are used to telling amusing stories from the lives of the bride and groom. The bridesmaids sometimes recite previously composed poems, especially good on this occasion humorous quatrains. One young man, telling a funny story from the life of a groom when he was in college, finished a toast with these words: “And now I propose to drink to the health of someone with whom I shared a room in the college dormitory, and for the happiness of the one who will now share his home.
Entertainment and Decorations
Music and dancing at a pre-wedding dinner are far from essential. As a rule, many receptions of this kind are held for the purpose of eating good food and enjoying fellowship. Sometimes, however, they can be organized with great pomp and pageantry – for example, during the meal a violinist or accordionist plays lyrical melodies, and at the end of the rehearsal dinner guests dance to the music of a specially invited orchestra.
The bride and groom usually do not leave the reception late to get a good night’s sleep, and guests can stay even until late at night, if the hosts such a proposal. Bridesmaids and best men should not forget their responsibilities toward the bride and groom which they have to fulfill the next day, and should refrain both from abusing the champagne and from staying with the other guests until the end of the reception.
Pre-wedding dinner decorations are the simplest. Regardless of how many guests are invited, you should decorate the tables with vases of flowers. This is usually quite enough.
Menu of bridal luncheon
The pre-wedding rehearsal dinner is preceded by a brief cocktail party, during which members of the two families can socialize a little, and those of the guests who have not been acquainted before can get acquainted. Those invited are served cocktails, and those who don’t drink alcohol are served punch and refreshments. Hors d’oeuvres may be as modest or as elaborate as the hosts wish.
When a wedding reception is held with many guests, the rehearsal dinner should match it in style. The dishes to be served should also be chosen with the requirements of the formal reception in mind. However, there is no need to order elaborate and expensive delicacies. If the wedding will be informal and unconventional, then the menu of the pre-wedding reception should be appropriate. Obviously, in this case, and the setting of the reception should be different – it can be organized in the form of a barbecue in the open air or lunch “a la buffet” in a large room for games.
Dinner is usually served with wine and toasts are toasted with champagne. Sometimes champagne is served with all courses of the meal. If the meal is informal, beer, iced tea, sangria, or other drinks may be served at the host’s discretion.