What’s the point of a rehearsal dinner? I know it’s tradition, but why did they evolve? Is it really just to cram one more event into an already overloaded weekend?
Nope: they were designed to build community among the most intimate members of the wedding guests. It grew to include people traveling from a distance, but presumably they were also intimate members of your community, or why else would they have made the trek?
So, is a formal dinner the best way for people to get to know one another? Is it the best way for the bridal pair to prepare for the next day’s activities? For some people it may be. Some communities like being dressed up and mingling over cocktails. And it’s one great chance for friends to see one another. (although I’d advise people to mix up the tables a bit and maybe provide some conversational gambits.)
But you can also have a much more laid back and relaxed gathering and find ways to shuffle folks around. I wrote an article on ezines about a Winter Bonfire. It got a huge response. This tells me folks are looking for something fun.
Tip: as you and your parents consider what you want for a Rehearsal Dinner, consider your crowd and how they like to spend time. Consider what will help one set of parents’ friends meet the other set of parents’ friends and one set of college friends meet the other’s set of college friends. What’s going to help you relax and be prepared for your day tomorrow, confident that your friends know and love you and are beginning to know and like one another?