My Little Etiquette Shop: Places please! This is a rehearsal dinner, people!

What the heck? Who needs to rehearse how to eat, right? May is here and from New York to San Francisco, wedding guests are digging through drawers trying to find invitation maps they buried under receipts and take-out menus.  Many will discover that they have been invited to a rehearsal dinner, whether or not they are in the wedding party.  We had some etiquette queries come in about rehearsals and the associated dinners, so we’re going to take them on. Do you have questions about being a wedding guest? Write us! We love questions, rehearsed or not.  Please put the word “Etiquette” in your subject line.


Why was I invited to my friend’s Rehearsal Dinner? I’m not in the wedding party, and I’m not family.  Is it rude to decline the invitation?


A:   Well, Barbara, rehearsal dinners have changed over time.  Many are still intimate affairs where the people who are at the actual rehearsal go out to dinner.  Others, however, have become parties practically as elaborate as the weddings themselves.  Many couples have decided that with guests traveling from afar, it’s nice to invite out-of-towners to the dinner so as to have an activity their first night, and see friends and family.  Others choose to invite those closest to them who are not in the wedding party to join the group to recognize their special place in the bride or groom’s life. Regardless of what your friend’s reason was, it’s a nice invitation, and chances are the food will be better than at the Motel 6 coffee shop so hey – why not?  As to declining, no it’s not rude, as long as you actually decline according to the invitation’s instructions.  If it says to call your friend’s future Mother-in -Law, you should call her, and not just drop your friend an email.  People are dealing with caterers and the bride may not have time to communicate (or remember) all such details. She’s a little busy right now. And, needless to say, thank her FMIL for the invitation.

Let the toasting begin!  More on wedding guests to come.

Malin / Balestriere Rehearsal Dinner
Why am I here? For the party, of course! Photo by Sean O'Shaughnessy