Once you’ve booked your venue, completed the guest count and have wedding preparations underway, it’s time to start thinking about the rehearsal dinner. But don’t fret! We spoke with Bobbi Jo Ballard from Maggiano’s to get all her expertise on planning, timing and today’s trends so you can easily check one more thing off your list.
Who’s typically in attendance at the rehearsal dinner?
Traditionally the rehearsal dinner is going to consist of the bride and groom, the wedding party and their immediate families. Now we are starting to see more of a trend towards inviting out of town guests to rehearsal dinners (not to the rehearsal itself). A lot of parents feel that it’s important to take care of the out of town guests.
When does the rehearsal dinner take place?
It is typically the evening before, but it doesn’t have to be. With different venues and crazy schedules, rehearsals aren’t always the day before the wedding. Sometimes they’re a week before or the Thursday before a Sunday wedding.
How far in advance should you book your rehearsal dinner?
At Maggiano’s, the further out we book your rehearsal dinner the better. But we know it can be hard to plan rehearsal dinners very far in advance because you don’t know your guest count or when your actual rehearsal is taking place at the wedding venue, so we are flexible. The general consensus is at least three to six months in advance of the date. By three months out, couples have a good idea how many guests will be attending and they can plan a menu that doesn’t conflict with their wedding day.
What does the rehearsal dinner hope to accomplish?
The ultimate goal is to bring the two immediate families and bridal party together as an introduction if they haven’t met prior to the the big day. This way you alleviate all of that awkwardness before the wedding. It’s also just another great opportunity for the families and wedding party to celebrate this special time together.
What does Maggiano’s provide for rehearsal dinners?
We provide private dining spaces with tables, chairs, linens, centerpieces, a service team, music and the meal itself. Our standard dinner menu includes ten items (four first course, four second and two desserts), but substitutions can be made based on the couple’s taste. Appetizers as a first course cocktail time are popular for rehearsal dinners in case the rehearsal is running late.
Maggiano’s is known for our family style meal service, which is a huge bonus for something like a rehearsal dinner where the goal is to bring these families together in a much more intimate setting. They say that home is where the heart is, but for Italians home is in the kitchen. And our heart is with the food.
What trends are you seeing in rehearsal dinners?
A lot of brides will bring the grooms cake to the rehearsal dinner so that the wedding cake is the only dessert showcased during the actual wedding. We’re also seeing groups shy away from the more formal dinners and opt for casual family fellowship without assigned seating.
Any other important tips to share?
The first step is to sit down with your groom and figure out what kind of rehearsal dinner you want. Is it a casual backyard potluck or a formal dinner at a venue? The second step is to figure out who’s covering the costs. What kind of budget you have narrows down how many people you can invite. Start broad, but then figure out the goal of your rehearsal dinner. Many couples are working professionals that are paying for the rehearsal dinner themselves. Lastly, relax and have fun!
Maggiano’s believes that every occasion should be filled with culinary classics and an extensive beverage selection at a sophisticated venue. No matter the occasion, Maggiano’s banquet halls can accommodate social events that range from casual to elegant. The team at Cumberland Mall Maggiano’s would be honored to be a part of your special event.