Wedding Wednesday – 50% Hosting Is 100% Rude

by admin on September 13, 2017

I’ve got another one for you, and I’m not particularly sure about the etiquette here, despite my opinions.

We’ve got a “destination” wedding coming up. So we are looking at $500 in flights, another $300 in hotels, suit rentals, taking time off work, and the typical expenses that come along with it. Hey, we RSVP’d, we want to see our friends get married, give them a nice gift, and go on our merry way. Usual wedding stuff. I’m actually quite looking forward to it.

The issue. It has come to our attention that the wives of the groomsmen, while invited to the rehearsal dinner, will be footing their own bill for said dinner. Many of the wives have opted out of attending. Now, these wives all had the future bride and groom at their wedding/reception dinners, and their meals were paid for, and a location for those dinners specifically chosen so that all could be accommodated and paid for by the wedding couple. I know that the future bride and groom cannot afford any additional mouths to feed at their very expensive rehearsal dinner location (+$100/person, plus drinks), and that this location was picked because it has special meaning to the couple. I would have chosen a less expensive venue, but it seems they really have an attachment to the one chosen.

So, at what point would paying for one member of the couple- But not the other- at the reception dinner be okay? Or is it never okay?

I have an opinion- But I would love to hear both yours and the eHell community thoughts on the matter.   0913-16

Whether it is a wedding reception or rehearsal dinner makes no difference in the etiquette. It is beyond rude to invite a couple to a dinner and pay for one half of the couple while declining to pay for the other.  It’s never okay.   Ever.   I don’t care how sentimentally special the dinner venue is for the hosts.   In this case, place became the greater prior than people.   On a budget?   Either reduce the number of attendants involved in the wedding or find a dinner venue that is affordable so that everyone is offered the same hospitality.

 

{ 113 comments… read them below or add one }

Marie September 13, 2017 at 3:31 am

I have a question: in many European countries (if not all), the “Rehearsal dinner” is a foreign concept.
I have a few questions that might seem weird/rude to ask, but I honestly wonder about them:

1. What is there to rehearse? It’s not like you never sat down and had dinner before. Why is it called rehearsal dinner?
2. What kind of food is being served? The exact thing that will be served at the wedding? But why would you want to eat the same thing at the same restaurant twice without some time in between? I assume the couple itself has tasted the food when booking the venue, so there would be no need for tasting. But if there is other food, how does this differentiate from a regular dinner with your closest friends/family?
3. When is the rehearsal dinner typically held? If its the night before the wedding as I heard is common, wouldn’t that just put more pressure on the bride and groom? Don’t they want some time alone instead of entertaining people right before the big day?

In all honesty, the rehearsal dinner sounds to me like something the venue makes a lot of money off, without it having a real purpose or added value over a regular dinner.
At my wedding, we did take out the BM and his family for dinner the night before, because they had travelled from abroad (context: if you drive for 3 hours in any direction, you are either in the sea or in another country, so all our guests that came from the same country did not need hotels or flights). We just booked a restaurant that was cosy and fun for their kid as well. So, I can understand that a couple wants to provide for friends/family that had to travel to get there, and spend some extra time with them. I do not understand however, why it needs to be expensive and at the venue, and include the entire bridal party while some attendants might live around the corner.

Thank you guys in advance for giving me some insight in this!

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ladyv21454 September 13, 2017 at 10:52 am

Marie, usually there will be a rehearsal of the wedding ceremony the evening before the wedding, so that the wedding party will know in what order and at what pace they should proceed down the aisle. This is normally followed by a rehearsal dinner for the bride, groom, parents and attendants (and sometimes out-of-town family members). This is held in a restaurant and not at the reception venue, so the type of food would be dependent on the location. It’s normally a pretty informal occasion, and is designed to be a “thank you ” to the attendants. Hope this clears things up for you!

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Shannon September 13, 2017 at 11:11 am

A “rehearsal dinner” doesn’t involve practicing eating or trying out the food or whatever. The caterer’s food is tried out at a tasting some weeks or months before the wedding, so there’s time to change the menu if it’s not to the couple’s taste.

The rehearsal and rehearsal dinner are a different concept.

Often, the night before an American wedding, there is a rehearsal of the ceremony for the wedding party, parents, and officiant. This is so they can familiarize themselves with the venue and learn details like when a reading will happen, which bridesmaid will be escorted by which groomsman, if there are any religious rituals or expectations, etc. The run-through takes about twenty minutes if everyone buckles down.

It sounds a bit fiddly, but wedding ceremonies in the United States can vary widely from couple to couple, due to the religious and ethnic diversity here, and because ceremonies can be highly personalized and have larger wedding parties. So the run-through can be very useful so everyone knows where to go and when.

It’s also been my observation that it “gets the wiggles out” – wedding party members get all their catching-up and fidgeting and distraction and goofing done, so they can actually focus on the day of the wedding. (Groomsmen in particular are prone to wandering off and jabbering. At my own rehearsal I had to keep retrieving them from the bar across the hall, which made the rehearsal take twice as long. But they got their wiggles out and held it together for the wedding itself.)

The rehearsal is followed by a celebration/welcome dinner for the wedding party and their spouses, the bride and groom’s parents, and their grandparents. Sometimes close family and out-of-town guests are invited, if the hosts so choose. It’s not always at the same venue as the wedding, in fact, it’s usually somewhere else, like the private room of a restaurant. The groom’s parents traditionally host, or the couple may do so. It doesn’t have to be fancy, I’ve been to rehearsal cookouts, rehearsal clambakes, and the like. It can be very low-key and wrap up early if the couple wants time to rest up before the big day.

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Liz September 14, 2017 at 8:40 am

This especially
“It sounds a bit fiddly, but wedding ceremonies in the United States can vary widely from couple to couple, due to the religious and ethnic diversity here, and because ceremonies can be highly personalized and have larger wedding parties. So the run-through can be very useful so everyone knows where to go and when.”

Back in the day, when my BFF got married, i was a BM and it was in her church, which was Catholic. And during the rehearsal, her mom said ok, now at this point, everyone, and the bridal party first, after the HC, will go up for communion. I panicked. I’m not Catholic, nor religious really, so what do I do? Its not like i’m a guest, and can just stay seated, nope. But as it was the rehearsal and not the actual day, her mom said, just go up, and bow your head, and continue on.

Had there been no rehearsal, it would ahve been very awkward to say the least during the actual cermony!

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DGS September 13, 2017 at 11:15 am

Great questions. The reason it is called the Rehearsal Dinner is because typically, preceding the dinner is the wedding rehearsal – the couple and wedding party and the clergy person/justice of peace of their choice and immediate family go to the venue/church/synagogue/mosque/temple and practice the processional and recessional and the vows, followed by a dinner that typically is limited to that circle of people, or out of town guests. When my DH and I got married, his parents hosted an Out-Of-Town dinner the night before the wedding for our wedding party (with significant others), immediate family and those extended family members and close friends that had traveled from out of town. We had had about 200 people at our wedding, and about 50 of those were hosted for dinner at a (beautiful, so sad that it has since closed) restaurant. Afterwards, we got a chance to hang out and lounge at the hotel across the street where most out-of-towners were staying for our wedding and catch up with cousins we had not seen in a while, friend that had moved across the country, etc. My DH and I also handed our thank-you notes and gifts to our family members and wedding party members at the dinner – we had purchased gift cards to restaurants to our parents and written nice cards to thank them for hosting the wedding and rehearsal (we had paid for a third, his parents for a third, and my parents for a third of the budget), and we had purchased necklaces (me) and cufflinks (DH) for our wedding party to thank them for being involved in the wedding party. It was a really lovely evening!

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Ernie September 13, 2017 at 11:16 am

I can see where this would be confusing. The rehearsal is a rehearsal of the wedding ceremony, as in who stands where, who talks when, who comes down the aisle in what order. Not unlike a rehearsal for a play. The rehearsal dinner is then a thank you dinner for those in the wedding party for all of their help. I guess a better term would be “The after rehearsal thank you dinner”.

You’re not wrong that these things are often over complicated and come at a stressful time. At our wedding, we didn’t have a traditional wedding party, so we just had our parents over for dinner a week before the wedding to thank them for their help.

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Barensmom September 13, 2017 at 11:24 am

There’s usually a run-through of the wedding (to show people where to stand, etc.) a day or so before the actually ceremony, followed by a “rehearsal dinner.”

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lakey September 13, 2017 at 11:35 am

The day or two before the wedding, the couple, the members of the wedding party, and parents of the bride and groom meet at the church or wedding venue to rehearse for the wedding. The officiant explains the details, what the bridesmaids and groomsmen do, and so on. Then everyone involved goes to a restaurant for dinner. The grooms family or the couple usually acts as hosts and therefore pay.

It’s not usually considered to be as big a deal as the reception dinner and going to a restaurant that charges $100 + for a meal is extravagant.

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Leigh September 13, 2017 at 11:43 am

Hey Marie,

1.) The rehearsal dinner generally follows the rehearsal of the wedding procession. It is a meal that is hosted by the couple and/or their family for the wedding attendants. They aren’t rehearsing the dinner, just the procession the next day.
2.) The food varies. It’s generally not what will be served at the wedding, it’s generally (or should be) a “thank you” to the members of the wedding party for being in the wedding and showing up to go over the mechanics of the actual ceremony taking place usually the next day.
3) Typically they are held the day before the wedding so that everyone can relax after practicing the processional & everything that day/evening.

Mine was a low-key dinner at a local BBQ restaurant where we all sat around, both sides of the family could interact, and everyone got a nice meal. Rehearsal Dinner is really just a fancy way of saying “hey, we’ve spent two hours practicing for tomorrow, so let’s go eat!” (which is way too long, so we shortened to Rehearsal Dinner).

I hope this helps clear up the confusion!

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Semperviren September 13, 2017 at 11:51 am

Marie, the rehearsal dinner is generally held following a run-through of the wedding procession, ceremony, and recessional (so everyone understands where the wedding party is to stand, in what order they’re going down the aisle, when readings will be done, if that’s part of the ceremony, things like that).The dinner is held following the rehearsal and can be at a restaurant or private home and is frequently hosted by the groom’s family (my rehearsal dinner was thrown at my MIL’s home, for example). Invitees are usually the bride ‘s and groom’s families and the wedding party and their spouses/significant others. Most often the rehearsal dinner is held the night before the wedding (which I personally agree is not ideal – it makes for a packed and stressful 24 hours before the actual wedding in my opinion).

It is certainly not necessary to hold it at the wedding venue, or for it to be formal and expensive. A simple venue and meal is fine and no, you definitely would not want to duplicate the wedding menu.

In the OP’s example, it’s really inexcusable to ask your guests, including the wedding party, to incur travel expenses for your destination wedding and then not pay for their spouses to accompany them to the rehearsal dinner. That is an etiquette atrocity.

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Charliesmum September 13, 2017 at 12:08 pm

You may wind up getting 15 answers to your question, but I thought I’d chime in anyway. Generally speaking one would have a short rehearsal for the ceremony – who walks in when, etc. and then after that, the immediate family members and bridal party would have a dinner, traditionally paid for by the groom’s family. I literally can’t remember if spouses/partners of the bridal party were involved in the rehearsal dinner, as it’s been a long while since I’ve been involved in weddings on any kind of frequent basis, but I would imagine they were.

I wonder if nowadays the ‘rehearsal’ part has been scrapped and now it’s just another Big Moment before the Big Day.

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LovleAnjel September 13, 2017 at 12:11 pm

1. What is there to rehearse? It’s not like you never sat down and had dinner before. Why is it called rehearsal dinner?

The wedding is rehearsed the day before, so everyone knows their cues, where to stand, when to adjust the train, ect. The dinner is after this rehearsal, and often the attendants’ gifts are handed out before or after the meal. Traditionally, the groom’s family hosts the rehearsal dinner, while the bride’s family hosts the wedding.

2. What kind of food is being served? The exact thing that will be served at the wedding? But why would you want to eat the same thing at the same restaurant twice without some time in between? I assume the couple itself has tasted the food when booking the venue, so there would be no need for tasting. But if there is other food, how does this differentiate from a regular dinner with your closest friends/family?

The rehearsal dinner is often at a completely different location than the rehearsal. As above, it’s traditionally hosted by a different family than the wedding is. Often the meals are more costly, because it is a smaller group at a restaurant, instead of hundred plus guests with a caterer.

3. When is the rehearsal dinner typically held? If its the night before the wedding as I heard is common, wouldn’t that just put more pressure on the bride and groom? Don’t they want some time alone instead of entertaining people right before the big day?

Traditionally, it is the night before the wedding, as the rehearsal is generally scheduled for the day before the wedding. However, neither the rehearsal or the associated dinner are required, so if the couple wants to, they can tell the Groom’s family not to worry about it (how that plays depends on family dynamics and the size of the wedding).

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ladyv21454 September 14, 2017 at 10:42 am

LovleAnjel, I have to disagree with one thing you said – “Often the meals are more costly, because it is a smaller group at a restaurant, instead of hundred plus guests with a caterer.” Considering how often we see stories of brides having a fit because the cost of a gift didn’t equal or exceed the per plate cost of the reception, I would think the restaurant would be LESS expensive per person. From what I’ve seen, the per plate cost for a formal catered reception starts at $50 per plate and goes up from there. You can get a nice meal for far less than that at most restaurants.

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Kat September 13, 2017 at 12:32 pm

The rehearsal isn’t for the dinner, it’s a walkthrough of the ceremony. The rehearsal dinner is a sort of afterparty to thank everyone for showing up to the wedding rehearsal.

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Paula September 13, 2017 at 12:34 pm

The rehearsal is actually for the wedding ceremony. You invite your bridal party the day before to rehearse so that you can plan who is walking down the aisle with whom, what order they will walk in, etc. Then you provide a dinner for them as a thank you for spending additional time on your wedding preparations. It is also customary in some areas to also invite the out-of-town guests that came for the wedding. In my case, the rehearsal dinner was nothing like our reception. We had a picnic for the rehearsal dinner, while our reception was at a large wedding venue.

The rehearsal dinner is also generally hosted by the groom’s family, so there is no added pressure on the bride and groom to coordinate.

If you have people attending a destination wedding with their spouses who are in the wedding, you absolutely need to pay for them to be at the rehearsal dinner.

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Girl in the Stix September 13, 2017 at 12:58 pm

Typically, the wedding party and the officiant hold a rehearsal of the ceremony before the wedding, so everyone knows what to do the day of. The dinner takes place after the rehearsal, and is usually hosted by the groom’s family, and is for the wedding party, and, for some, out of town relatives. Hope this helps!

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Captain Knittastic September 13, 2017 at 1:01 pm

In the U.S., it is customary to have a (hopefully short) walk-through of the ceremony the day or evening before the actual wedding. This is done so that all members of the wedding party know where to stand, when to perform any assigned duties, etc. This is also helpful to any younger children who may be participating so they know what to do and can become familiar with the venue before being asked to perform in front of an audience. (Thankfully for those of us in said audience, this does not always keep them from doing unexpected things during the actual event!)

As this event is generally held on a Friday evening, dinner would be provided for the wedding party and any attendant spouses after the rehearsal itself. Over time, it has become a larger and more elaborate event. Many people now invite out of town guests and/or other wedding guests to the rehearsal dinner, although not the rehearsal itself.

Hope this was helpful!

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Shoegal September 13, 2017 at 1:03 pm

Rehearsal dinner – is a dinner that is held after the couple and the entire wedding party rehearse the wedding ceremony. Hence the name. The participants all practice their part in the ceremony usually at the place the ceremony is held. The where, when and how are all figured out and practiced just to make sure everybody is comfortable for the actual day. Afterward a dinner is held – usually hosted by the groom’s parents and can literally be anything under the sun in terms of food or expense. It can be a simple picnic / barbecue, or a formal dinner at a restaurant. The menu is usually completely different than the wedding food. The food there could be exactly what the family typically serves at their family dinners – it can literally be just about anything. It is just a nice evening that the wedding party and sometimes out of town guests sit down and all have a nice dinner together. Some other traditions there are for the bride and groom to give gifts to the wedding party as a thank you for participating in their wedding. It is typically held the day before the wedding as a way to kick off all the wedding festivities. It can be very little trouble to anyone if that is what is wanted and is not mandatory in terms of the wedding but most people do it.

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Dippy September 13, 2017 at 1:08 pm

A rehearsal dinner is a little party thrown after the wedding rehearsal. Typically, the wedding party, the parents and any other participants get together with the officiant at the church or venue and practice what’s going to happen at the ceremony. You stand here, walk here, etc.

Afterwards, they all go together and have dinner. These parties can be elaborate, or simple. Mine was in the church basement and was just pizza and salad and pop.

Sometimes, out of town guests are invited as well.

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Lisastitch September 13, 2017 at 1:27 pm

The weddings I’ve been involved with have all been large enough that there were a number of attendants. The rehearsal is of the wedding itself–who comes in when, who stands where, who escorts the mother of the bride down the aisle, how people get to where they need to be, what their cues are, etc. –so that everyone knows just what is expected of them. It’s also a chance to make sure that all the details have been handled–the couple is lighting a unity candle but there are no matches by it, for example. It is meant for the bridal couple, their attendants, their families, and anyone else who is involved directly in the wedding. After the rehearsal, traditionally, there is a dinner (the rehearsal dinner) for those people plus spouses/SO’s (who were often at the rehearsal), although it has now expanded and often includes extended family and guests coming from a distance. Hope this helps!

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Jelaza September 13, 2017 at 1:47 pm

The rehearsal dinner is actually called that because it is a meal that takes place after the wedding rehearsal (where the officiant goes over who stands where and what happens when with the couple and their attendants).

Usually, the bride and groom do not organize the dinner, traditionally it is hosted by the groom’s parents, but I’ve also seen it hosted by the bride’s parents, both sets of parents, other family members or friends of the couple. It does not need to be at the venue. Sometimes it is, sometimes it’s at a local restaurant, less often it is at someone’s home.

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JD September 13, 2017 at 1:51 pm

Marie,
What they are rehearsing is the wedding ceremony. Everyone in the wedding party, including the officiant, gets together a night or so before the wedding and does a “practice” ceremony so everyone is sure who escorts who, when to walk, where to stand, at what point to hold the bouquet/straighten the train/hand over the rings, etc. In my area, the entire wedding party is then taken out to dinner by the couple, or more commonly in the old days but still often done now, by the groom’s parents, as a way to take some financial burden off of the bride’s parents, who used to always pay for the wedding and reception. It can also be a time for the couple to give out gifts to their attendants to thank them for their assistance, and sometimes short speeches. I’ve never been to one in which significant others of wedding party members had to pay for their own meals. I consider that very rude, as Admin said.

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Frog24 September 13, 2017 at 2:28 pm

Hi Marie,

In some places in North America, the rehearsal dinner is held the evening before the wedding.

Usually what happens is the wedding party (and the parents of the wedding couple) go to the location of the marriage and do a practice run-through (or rehearsal) with the officiant. After the run-through, they all go to dinner together, which is called the rehearsal dinner. Sometimes, this meal is the first time the families of the bride and groom have ever met and it’s a way of getting the parents together. Sometimes, they all know each other really well and it’s just a fun meal everyone has together before the “big day”.

Frog

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Isabelle September 13, 2017 at 2:34 pm

I’m Canadian but have been living in the US for a while now so, while I was unfamiliar with the concept, I am now.

The dinner is not the rehearsal… it’s a dinner after the rehearsal for the ceremony. At least technically. My experience with it has been that the wedding party (so bridesmaids, groomsmen, parents, and bride and groom) go to the venue where the wedding will take place and rehearse how the ceremony will go, especially around the logistics. And then, usually, there is a dinner afterwards to thank people for their attendance to that and to have some downtime before the big day.

I’ve also attended one where there was no actual rehearsal done but it was an occasion to get together before the big day when there will be more people and less time to chat.

The food served is different than the wedding.

Hope this helps.

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Anna September 13, 2017 at 2:47 pm

Usually the thing being rehearsed is the wedding. The members of the wedding party go through a rehearsal of who stand where, etc., at the wedding venue.

Then everyone goes out to dinner at a restaurant, and I believe it is typical for the groom’s family to pay (in the same way the bride’s family might pay for the wedding itself).

The rehearsal dinner has turned into a larger event than just the wedding party, in some cases. I’ve been invited to the rehearsal dinner because I was part of a group traveling with some members of the wedding party, etc.

To clarify, the rehearsal dinner is a dinner that occurs after a rehearsal, it is not a rehearsal itself!

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A Weaver September 13, 2017 at 2:49 pm

The rehearsal is a practice run of the wedding. Who walks with whom, when, where people sit, etc. As a thank you for their time, dinner is provided, usually hosted by the groom’s parents. Often out of town guests are invited to attend. It can be held at the wedding venue, or a restaurant, or even at someone’s home.

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Solidus Pilcrow September 13, 2017 at 3:06 pm

The rehearsal is for the ceremony itself: where the door to the aisle is, where do attendants stand/sit, where do the flower girl and ring bearer come and go, stuff like that. Think of it as stage blocking.

The rehearsal is typically 1-2 days before the wedding. The *dinner* is good hosting to feed the wedding party afterwards. Other close friends and family may also be invited. I think it’s also the time when the couple gives out bridesmaid and groomsman gifts.

The dinner venue is most likely not to be the same as the reception venue. It can be pretty much any restaurant or at someone’s home. So, yes, in a way it’s pretty much just a big dinner with friends and family, but it’s to thank them for taking the time and effort to make sure the wedding runs smoothly. In this letter, I’m guessing the venue the couple picked out for the rehearsal dinner was something like the restaurant where they had their first date or other significant event occurred.

I found a good article that sums it up here:
https://apracticalwedding.com/wedding-rehearsal-how-to/

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Kate September 13, 2017 at 3:42 pm

The rehearsal dinner isn’t to rehearse the dinner, but the wedding. Before the dinner, there is a wedding rehearsal for all members of the bridal party. Afterwards, there is a dinner, traditionally hosted by the parents of the groom.

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NRoss September 13, 2017 at 3:51 pm

Marie,

A rehearsal dinner is usually held after the wedding rehearsal and is usually for the people involved in the wedding ceremony and their spouses. (Bride, Groom, their parents, groomsmen, bridesmaids, musicians, pastor/officiants). Typically it is held at a restaurant, but that can vary. Traditionally the groom’s family pays for it. It is not the same food as the wedding.

This can vary of course. But that is the basic idea.

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NRoss September 13, 2017 at 3:53 pm

I meant to say, the groom’s parents typically pay for it.

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Danielle September 13, 2017 at 3:52 pm

They’re not rehearsing for the dinner; they’re rehearsing for the ceremony. It’s usually a run-through so that people know when to walk, where to stand, what’s going to happen. Because the entire wedding party will be there, there’s usually some kind of dinner afterward for people to socialize. We had our rehearsal dinner near the wedding venue, at a restaurant that was a favorite of ours as well as others in the wedding party. We had a nice time relaxing, chatting, and we gave out our attendant gifts and officiant gift at the rehearsal dinner.

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Vicki September 13, 2017 at 4:01 pm

My understanding (maybe out of date) is that it’s a dinner for the people who are at the wedding rehearsal: the wedding party and possibly the parents of the people getting married.

What you’re rehearsing is basically who does what, where, and when. I went to a rehearsal dinner when I was maid of honor in a Catholic wedding. The “rehearsal” included the priest telling the non-Catholic members of the wedding party what to expect during the wedding. This is also a chance to make sure everyone knows where the church is/how to get there, and can find the bathrooms.

The rehearsal dinner was in a different location than the wedding reception, and much less formal; it was also smaller, so the wedding party actually got to talk to the people who were getting married, and say more than “nice to meet you” to the parents.

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Dee September 13, 2017 at 4:10 pm

Marie – The rehearsal is a wedding rehearsal, usually held the evening before the wedding, to make sure everyone knows their places and the order of the ceremonies. It involves the couple and the bridal party. If motivated to do so, the group can then go out for dinner afterward, and that would be the rehearsal dinner. That dinner would not take place at the venue where the wedding would be held; it would be at whatever restaurant chosen by whoever is paying or the group, it it’s Dutch.

I’ve heard of rehearsal dinners since I was a little kid (I’m in my 50s) but I’ve never been to one, never had one, and never known anyone to have one. In years past, the groom was usually snagged for his stag right after the rehearsal, if he didn’t find means to escape the kidnapping, that is. By the time I got married most brides had forbidden any shenanigans on the wedding eve, in order to prevent a very sick groom the next day, so the stags tended to take place two or more nights before the wedding. But there still weren’t any rehearsal dinners happening, despite the fact that grooms were now available that evening.

I think rehearsal dinners are, for the most part, a fabrication of media and Hollywood. Like the registry, the two/three/four-month-salary-diamond-ring, save-the-dates, destination weddings, and so on. I’ve been to many weddings in my life among a variety of cultures and traditions and the rehearsal dinner was never considered because it’s just not a “thing”. If you have the money and time, go for it. But for most people it’s neither an option nor a desire and never occurs to them to consider it.

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Pam September 14, 2017 at 9:04 am

Dee, I’m also in my 50’s and have participated in over 20 weddings and have attended 20 +rehearsal dinners. My first one was at age 5 in 1970 when I was the flower girl. I can also only think of 2 weddings I’m even aware of that didn’t have a rehearsal dinner because they didn’t have a rehearsal because of the informality of their wedding. Definitely not a media fabrication. Also, bridal registry’s have been around since 1920’s when invented by Macy’s. As far as bachelor parties, they often started after the rehearsal dinner ended. However, like you mentioned, most couples choose to forgo the night before revelry and instead have those events well before the wedding. Based on our ages, I would assume we married around the same time. It was not the bride’s forbidding these actions but the grooms made these decisions on their own.

I’m glad you’ve been to weddings of many cultures but you obviously haven’t spent time amongst my culture.

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Jane September 14, 2017 at 2:03 pm

Agreed with Pam. I have been a bridesmaid five times, as well as attending numerous others as a guest, and every single one had a rehearsal dinner. If I ever get married I certainly plan on having one as I think they’re wonderful and a great way to spend relaxed time with out of town family and your wedding party before the stress of the big day. Maybe not common in your circle Dee, but certainly not a media fabrication! I would say that they are very popular and commonly done.

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Dee September 14, 2017 at 4:26 pm

The weddings I’ve heard of and/or attended have been across four provinces and spanning about 50 years, so I know that rehearsal dinners aren’t generally done here, and by saying ‘here’ I mean a good part/most of the country. There’s no advertising for rehearsal dinners, I’ve never encountered seeing one at any restaurant, or working one at a restaurant, or hearing anyone personally talk of having or attending one. Registries, too, seem to be accepted because media has made them out to be tradition, but there’s no historical basis for them ‘here’. As far as the stag on the wedding eve, that tradition only ended when brides let it be known they wouldn’t accept the possibility of a shabby groom at the wedding, and/or made sure the groom was very busy the night before. I do remember more than a few sick grooms at weddings in the ’70s, and more than a few teenage girls vowing this would not happen at their own future nuptials. By the time I got married in the 80s it was not done on wedding eves anymore, because of pressure by the brides. Like other brides before and after me I put the word out to my fiancé’s friends that they were simply not going to have him that night, no ifs, ands or buts. The grooms didn’t think too much of it one way or the other and didn’t have a say in it at all, since they were essentially kidnapped for it.

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Deb September 15, 2017 at 2:30 pm

Dee,
Since you mention “provinces”, I assume the country you refer to is not the US. Many of the posters who are very familiar with rehearsal dinners (myself included) are probably in the US.

Rose September 13, 2017 at 4:24 pm

It’s for the wedding party, after they rehearse the wedding ceremony. Typically, they walk through it a few times, making sure everyone knows where they’re supposed to be, etc. Afterward, they have dinner together. It’s a smaller, and usually more casual, affair than the reception. When my two best friends got married, we all went out for pizza after the rehearsal. It was a nice, quiet evening for all us friends to hang out and relax, before the big wedding and reception two days later.

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Kheldarson September 13, 2017 at 4:50 pm

1. A rehearsal dinner refers to the fact that it takes place after the wedding rehearsal. It’s not a rehearsal for a dinner 🙂

2. The food is whatever the bride and groom choose (or the groom’s parents who traditionally pay).

3. It’s held the night before with typically only the wedding party present. Out of town guests may also be included. It’s effectively a low-key dinner for family and friends before the larger party. Of course some people take it to extremes.

So it doesn’t have to be expensive or a full party on its own. Personally we had pizza at my parent’s house for my husband’s and my wedding.

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Heather G September 13, 2017 at 5:07 pm

Happy to help!

1) The rehearsal dinner is the dinner held for the bridal party and sometimes the officiant, along with the parents of the bride and groom after the rehearsal for the wedding ceremony. That’s what the rehearsal is referring to. After you go to your venue and walk through the ceremony with your officiant to make sure everyone knows where they need to be and when, you all go to dinner. It is often paid for by the groom’s family.

2) It is usually at a restaurant and not the same one doing your catering, if it is a restaurant doing the catering. Other times it can be a family cooked meal. We had delivery in the parish hall after our rehearsal. My brother-in-law had a home cooked meal at the family home.

3) The rehearsal is usually the evening before the wedding and is the last thing everyone does together before breaking up for the evening. It’s your last meal as an unmarried couple and is an hour or two to spend with your family and attendants before the hustle and bustle of the wedding happens the next day and you don’t have much time to talk.

It’s a fun custom that no one really seems to mind or think much of. We had a great time laughing and talking with family and friends, decompressing from the stress for a while and going over what last minute things needed doing the next morning.

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sunnydi84 September 13, 2017 at 6:23 pm

Not a weird question at all if it’s a custom you’re not familiar with. So, here in the US the rehearsal is actually for the wedding ceremony. It is generally held on the night before the wedding so everyone knows where/when to stand, sit, kneel, etc. After the ceremony rehearsal, everyone involved in the ceremony, even the ring bearer and flower girl (and their parents/siblings) come to the rehearsal dinner. Everyone. That is customary here in the US. Some people even include out of town guests as they made a special trip to come see the wedding. That is not mandatory, but a nice gesture to people who took time to fly to see you get married.
It doesn’t have to be this high dollar event. We were tight on funds and had a lot of out of town guests fly in for our wedding. My MIL was an amazing cook and loved to cook for an army (she was Italian from Italy). She made everything from scratch. We had the rehearsal dinner at my BILs house and everyone in the wedding party, their plus ones (and kids, if they had them), our parents, siblings and any out of town guests were welcome to come. We didn’t break the bank and had a lovely dinner.
What these people are doing is over the top. Generally, the rehearsal dinner is a smaller affair due to the large celebration the next day.

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Lori September 13, 2017 at 8:58 pm

Lol, they aren’t rehearsing dinner. ?
It is a dinner that’s held after the wedding rehearsal. All parties participating (and spouses or parents in the case of ring bearers and flower girls) in the wedding meet somewhere for dinner.
This usually occurs the night before the wedding

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Darshiva September 15, 2017 at 9:16 am

Sometimes, I think people SHOULD rehearse the wedding dinner. I’ve heard of some horrible shenanigans at wedding dinners, and a rehearsal would have stopped them from happening on the day.

Surprise pranks, “kidnapping”, passing the hat to raise money for the honeymoon, and other such things happening at the wedding reception dinner… Ugh. Not to mention table manners.

But, yes, this is an American thing – rehearsing the wedding ceremony, and then having a dinner afterwards with the “cast.” Thus leaving the actual reception completely unrehearsed and ripe for stuff going wrong.

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nicole September 13, 2017 at 9:39 pm

The rehearsal dinner takes place after the wedding rehearsal (usually the night before the wedding). At the wedding rehearsal everyone (bridesmaids, groomsmen, readers, etc) all run through their parts. Then everyone there (and traditionally any guests who have traveled to get to the wedding) go out to dinner. It is generally not held at the same venue as the wedding or wedding reception. The cost of the rehearsal dinner is usually paid by the bride/groom and/or their families. It is called the rehearsal dinner because the dinner that takes place after the rehearsal for the wedding ceremony.

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Ripple September 13, 2017 at 10:13 pm

Marie:
The “rehearsal” is rehearsing the wedding ceremony the day before the actual wedding, so everyone is fully aware of their order of entrance, where everyone will stand, etc. Generally, the rehearsal dinner follows this and is not the same as the wedding reception. There are only a few guests at the rehearsal dinner compared to the reception, usually the bride and groom, both sets of parents, and the other members of the wedding party, including SO’s. Sometimes grandparents or other guests who came a long way and don’t know the area might be included. It might be held at the same venue as the reception, but not always. And the menu is different from the reception.

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Miss Herring September 13, 2017 at 10:23 pm

Oh, there is a bit of confusion here! Your questions don’t seem rude at all; this is a foreign concept to you. 🙂

Usually the day before a formal wedding, there is the wedding rehearsal. The happy couple, the wedding party (bridesmaids, groomsmen, any flower girls or ringbearers), the bride and groom’s respective sets of parents, the officiant (reverend or priest or minister), and any additional people with roles in the wedding ceremony all meet at the site where the actual wedding will take place. They do a practice wedding.
“Okay, here’s where bridesmaid #1 starts walking. Now wait…okay, when #1 gets to that pew/bench, that’s when bridesmaid #2 starts.” This makes sure that everyone knows what to do and when.

After the rehearsal is over, there is often a rehearsal dinner (So named because “You helped with the rehearsal; here’s dinner!”). This is where all the people who participated in the rehearsal (plus their spouses, maybe their kids, plus probably any out-of-town relatives) get together for dinner. Sometimes there will be little speeches by the parents, but not always. Often, the parents of the groom and the parents of the bride won’t know each other that well, so this can be a good opportunity to let them become closer.

Often, there will be relatives from out of town, and having this big dinner lets them spend more time with the bride and groom than will happen at the wedding reception. There can be relatives who live more than a 3-hour drive away (maybe a 10-hour drive or a multi-hour flight), so it could be that the bride or groom hasn’t seen them for years. Sure, the bride and groom might want to relax, but they can do that after the wedding, and they don’t want to miss precious time with relatives who have traveled all this way to see them married.

The location of the rehearsal dinner doesn’t really matter. If one set of parents want to host, that works great and everyone ends up at the parents’ house. If no one feels up to feeding that large a group of people amidst the stress of other wedding planning, then the rehearsal dinner may take place at a restaurant. I have been to a casual rehearsal dinner, where the bride’s mother made a taco buffet; I have been to a fancy rehearsal dinner at a restaurant. I don’t think the rehearsal dinner usually ends up at the same venue as the wedding reception. It would be odd for the same food as the wedding reception to be served. This rehearsal dinner might be distinct from “a regular dinner with your closest friends/family” only in the timing. 🙂

There is no requirement for a rehearsal dinner to be expensive. That is the choice of the LW’s friends.
I don’t think the LW’s friends are having the rehearsal dinner and the wedding reception at the same venue.
Rehearsal dinners include even attendants who live “right around the corner” because it allows the circles of family and friends to get to know each other. (And, from my perspective, it’s like giving pizza to the friends who help you move. Your friends sat through this dull rehearsal, so you at least owe them a meal!)

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Geekette September 13, 2017 at 10:32 pm

Its not actually the *dinner* that’s being rehearsed! 🙂

You know that wedding rehearsal people have, usually late in the evening the day before the real thing? That’s used to make sure everything is sorted out, goes smoothly and, in the case of clever couples, maybe get a few extra candid shots in.

A rehearsal dinner is just the meal after the wedding rehearsal, with just the bride, groom, and their attendants (and usually also their parents). That’s all it is. There’s no special food or venue. It doesn’t even have to be a venue, much less the same one as the reception; I know of rehearsal dinners that were in the groom’s parents’ home, and rehearsal dinners that were it was actually a BBQ lunch before the wedding rehearsal. I believe traditionally the groom’s parents pay for the rehearsal, since the bride’s family pay for the full wedding?

Think of it as making time to thank your attendants and the other people who helped set up the wedding and made the wedding _possible_ and showing gratitude for their efforts on your behalf, while the reception is to celebrate with your friends and family your good fortune.

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InTheEther September 13, 2017 at 11:24 pm

Answers.

1) The thing being rehearsed is the actual wedding ceremony. Just a run through with the wedding party, priest, and whoever else will be involved the with ceremony itself. That way on the day of no one’s wondering what order they’re walking in, when speeches or readings are being done, what the queues are, etc. It’s become the standard to have a dinner afterwards since all the nearest and dearest have driven down early, given up a night, whatever for the practice run.

2) Usually its not the same food that will be served for the wedding reception. At least around where I’m at the rehearsal dinner is a much more casual affair. The last one I was at it actually consisted of pizza, soda, chips, and pound cake. Some people do make it much more of an event though.

3) The rehearsal dinner is after the rehearsal ;p. Sounds like a smart ass answer, but that’s the only one I’ve got. Most people have the rehearsal the night before the wedding, so that anyone who had to drive in for the event don’t have to make 2 trips, but really its whenever works best for everyone’s schedules. As for the bride and groom, technically the rehearsal dinner is traditionally put on by the groom’s family, but this goes along with the wedding usually being put on and financed by the bride’s family. Since nowadays people are waiting until they’re pretty well settled before marrying, the whole getting your parents to pay for your wedding thing is going the way of the dodo.

In essence, the dinner serves the same purpose that your restaurant dinner did. To treat people who had to come from abroad, and thank the people who showed up for the dry run.

Lastly, the rehearsal dinner isn’t necessarily held at or put on by the venue. In my experience it definitely isn’t but the sort of weddings I’ve gone to haven’t been at a venue that even provided food. I guess in higher scale locations the hall or whatever might have the rehearsal dinner as part of the package, but I don’t think its the standard. Anyone who checked out or worked at that sort of place feel free to correct me.

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Cheryl September 14, 2017 at 12:23 am

The rehearsal is the night before the wedding and is when all the wedding party practice who stands where, who walks in ahead of the bride and what order and things like that. It is done with the preacher or officiant there also. The dinner is after this. I suppose the rehearsal dinner started because the rehearsal itself takes place at the time when most people eat and it was considered polite to feed the wedding party.It is not generally the same food that will be eaten at the wedding. Since we had the rehearsal dinner in the activities room of the church where the wedding was to be held, there was minimal extra cost to us for the venue. That is just how it was in my home town which is small and my mother was a member of the church (I was too when I still lived at home, but had not lived at home for several years prior to the wedding). We had the rehearsal dinner and reception catered BTW. We also came home to have the wedding as it was easier for DH and me to do that than try and move two large families to the city where we lived at the time of the wedding, some 400 miles away.

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Marie September 14, 2017 at 12:14 pm

Whoah! 40 replies and counting! Thank you guys for taking the time to tell me where my train of thought went wrong… “Dinner after rehearsal” = “Rehearsal dinner” and not “Dinner to rehearse having dinner”.
This has baffled me for years but somehow I never realized that dinner was just that – dinner! I knew about the ceremony rehearsals, but it just never clicked that dinner wasn’t part of the rehearsal, but a “thank you”.

Thank you guys again for your very elaborate answers, it’s really nice to gain more insight in what is common in cultures other than my own. 🙂

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Kat September 14, 2017 at 4:07 pm

Of course now I’M curious — are ceremony rehearsals / dinner after rehearsal not customary in the EU?

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Dee September 15, 2017 at 12:29 pm

Kat – Would the question maybe be – are rehearsals and dinners only really common in the US? Because it seems to me that rehearsals, but not the dinners, are the norm in Canada. We certainly have heard of rehearsal dinners but from American media and entertainment, not from personal experience. I wonder if it’s a phenomenon common ONLY to America? Which leads to MY curiosity as to whether other countries have these traditions? (I think Ukrainian weddings are typically 3 day events, so they could be having 3 dinners!)

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Aleko September 13, 2017 at 4:04 am

*Of course* this is in every way wrong. And not only that, it’s also something the couple will regret, when their happy memories of this venue to which they have such a sentimental attachment are overlaid by those of a strained rehearsal dinner, with half of the groomsmen on their own while their wives congregate for a grumpy pizza’n’coke somewhere else, and the wives who do turn up having been made to feel like second-class citizens. I can’t see how that could possibly be a happy occasion.

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AS September 13, 2017 at 6:24 am

Opt out, like the other wives did. And enjoy a take-out, with some nice book or Netflix. Or go out with the other wives if you know them well enough.

I hope they are paying for both at the actual wedding.

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Darshiva September 15, 2017 at 9:19 am

Yeah, I think the wives should get together for their own “rehearsal dinner,” and enjoy a party without “bride/groom zillas” dictating their every move, and “owning” them for the evening.

After a drink or two, they’ll be SO GLAD they didn’t have to go to that rehearsal dinner, and feel sorry for their poor, put-upon husbands.

In fact, with hosts like these, it’s not at all unlikely that the husbands will, in fact, be very put-upon, indeed.

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Cleosia September 13, 2017 at 7:27 am

Wow! That’s so low-class words escape me!

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Darshiva September 15, 2017 at 9:20 am

Back in the days before Coach, it was called “Third Class.” Or sometimes “Steerage,” if you were on a ship.

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Liz September 13, 2017 at 7:41 am

I agree with the admin; its just rude. I’ve been invited to weddings where my SO was part of the wedding party, and i was always included in the rehearsal dinner. Even though I wasn’t actually in the wedding party, but was the other half of someone who was.

They should have either sucked it up and paid for everyone, or held it somewhere else more affordable. I can only imagine how awkward it might be when the groomsman are there, minus their spouses or SO’s.

I say all the wives etc. go out at the same time, and have their own nice dinner!

Although I did have a similar situation with one BF: whose sister was getting married, he was in the WP, and i was not. She and i were friends first but when her brother and I got together, it was a bit awkward. She stopped speaking to me, etc etc etc. We were also young and immature which I’m sure didn’t help.

Anyway, I was invited to both the wedding, all related wedding events plus her bridal shower. Which was held out of state, on a Sunday, and apparently the night before, was some sort of party for the HP. Not sure who the host was, if formal invites were sent or just word of mouth, who all was invited, etc. but my BF came out and said he wasn’t sure if I was invited/included or not, as it might have just been family. Um ok. So you want me to travel however many hours, 4+ or so, and sit in the hotel sat night, while you go to an event. that i may or may not be included in, and then attend the shower the next day? Um no. We had been together for 6+ years at this point too.

I did legitimately have a good reason for not being able to go that weekend, but probably could have made it work, had i been more welcome. I politely declined the shower, and sent a gift.

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Darshiva September 15, 2017 at 9:22 am

I don’t think I will ever understand people who stop being friends with their friends because their friends date/marry their siblings. What is the supposed logic behind this? What possible explanation could there be?

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Shoegal September 13, 2017 at 8:14 am

What I’d like to know is how that information was conveyed to those invited to the rehearsal dinner? I wouldn’t even know how to get that across to the guests. We would like to invite everyone but one half of you have to pay for your dinner and the other half doesn’t have to. ? I would think this couple would have been too embarrassed to even suggest such an idea. It’s utterly ridiculous. Really horrible idea.

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ladyv21454 September 13, 2017 at 9:29 am

Sadly, this seems to be happening more and more often. Brides and grooms are so set on having the “perfect” wedding at the “perfect” venue that they prioritize THAT over the comfort of their guests, or cut their guest lists so they can afford a more expensive venue/dress/caterer. I just wonder how some people will feel looking back 10 years down the road and realizing that some very important people weren’t invited to their wedding.

I think the rudeness is particularly egregious in this specific case – by having a destination wedding, the bride and groom are already forcing those who really want to see them married to spend a ridiculous amount of money. Then on top of that, they’re going to make spouses of the wedding party pay for their own dinners? I applaud the wives for opting out! (Side note: the LW said that the wives of the groomsmen weren’t being paid for – is the same true of husbands of the bridesmaids?)

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chigrrl September 13, 2017 at 4:16 pm

Having a destination wedding isn’t inherently rude. It’s a personal choice. Deriding people who chose to have smaller affairs that suit their tastes in lieu of cutting corners for a larger crowd is rather petty. Some people would prefer a more intimate affair. If one is invited to a wedding and cannot afford to (or want to) travel to the event, whether because it’s a destination wedding OR because the couple lives far away, the polite thing to do is RSVP “no”, send your best regards and not make uncharitable judgments about the couple’s motivation to have a wedding that would inconvenience you.

The situation described by the OP is completely unrelated to the fact that it’s a destination wedding. Regardless of where the wedding was being held and how much it cost anyone to get there, only paying for half of an invited couple at a rehearsal dinner would be rude.

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Melissa September 14, 2017 at 9:01 am

Chigrrl I agree with you on all points, but I do kind of feel that since it’s a destination wedding, and people are spending additional time and money to be in your (general you!) wedding, that it’s “extra rude” to pay for only one half of a couple. But of course it would be rude no matter what, just as you said.

I also agree that there is nothing wrong with a destination wedding, or a small wedding, or for that matter, a Big White Wedding, which also frequently is derided. The rudeness comes in when unreasonable Brides/Grooms get upset with family and friends for declining to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to attend their destination wedding, or purposely hurt those not invited to their small wedding, and/or generally turn into Bride/Groomzillas. The events themselves are not inherently rude.

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Dee September 14, 2017 at 12:58 pm

It’s rude to not pay for a person’s meal at the rehearsal dinner but it’s NOT rude to demand that person pay huge bucks to attend the wedding? That’s pretty backward, to me. I don’t think ladyv is being petty at all, just voicing common sense.

The wedding couple is quite entitled to have whatever ceremony they pay for; what they are not entitled to do is expect anyone else to also pay, which is pretty much the definition of a destination wedding. If the couple really wants to travel to some place distant for their wedding then they are free to elope. It’s what people did in the past, because they would never have dreamed of expecting others to pay to join them. They would have been denounced as incredibly rude by one and all, and rightly so.

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Darshiva September 15, 2017 at 9:28 am

Yeah, I think if you’re going to have your wedding some place expensive, as opposed to local and more accessible, then you should be a good host, and pay the way for your guests. They are already giving you much more time than the day or two a local wedding would cost them, and to a working person, time really does mean money. Plus the travel/hotel/food over that extra time are more costs that really add up.

Personally, I’d rather either elope to my destination place, or go there for the honeymoon, or if I just really, really, want my family to be there with me specifically at the destination for the actual wedding, then I’d save up and pay to bring the family with me, and tell them to just keep their distance from the bridal couple for the honeymoon, in the same place, which just feels kind of icky, but if it’s a big enough destination, it can be done.

Sorry for the run-on there. I’m tired just thinking about wedding logistics. Really, elopement is so much better for all concerned.

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chigrrl September 19, 2017 at 1:59 am

No one is “demanding” anyone come to a destination wedding, Dee. Grown-ups have the ability to decline for whatever reason they see fit. There are situations where some guests may have to travel and others may not, is it “rude” to not have a wedding in a place that is convenient for absolutely every invited guest? If one doesn’t want to or can’t afford to pay for travel to a wedding, they have every option to say decline the invite.

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Ange September 13, 2017 at 6:51 pm

“Brides and grooms are so set on having the “perfect” wedding at the “perfect” venue that they…. cut their guest lists so they can afford a more expensive venue/dress/caterer.”

One of the first things people on this site espouse is to have the wedding you can afford and that can accommodate your guests comfortably. Then when people do that by having a smaller guest list they get heat as well. How can a person win? If people are that important they will be invited to the wedding, if not maybe they’re overstating their own importance in relation to the couple.

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chigrrl September 14, 2017 at 9:08 am

Exactly. If one really cared about the couple’s happiness, one would defer to their preferences in regards to size and scale of wedding. One doesn’t get to dictate the terms of another person’s nuptials. It seems incredibly petty to wish anyone anything but the best regardless of whether they preferred to have a smaller wedding or a large, more inclusive affair.

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Darshiva September 15, 2017 at 9:30 am

It’s never rude to have a smaller guest list. It is rude to have a tiered guest list, with only higher tiered guests getting all the goodies, and lower tiered guests getting “to share in the joy of our special day” without getting to share in the food.

But cutting down the guest list, before the invitations are sent out? Not rude at all. That is actively encouraged.

Smaller weddings mean the bridal couple and party can spend more time with each guest, and make that “sharing our special day” actually meaningful.

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Dee September 13, 2017 at 10:03 am

It’s so weird that a destination wedding, aka everybody-pay-through-the-nose-if-you-want-to-come-to-our-wedding scam, doesn’t get the OP riled up but paying for one meal does. I guess it’s like that straw on the camel’s back. To me, OP’s question is unanswerable until OP asks herself why she bought into the bigger scam without blinking, and the effect that has had on her judgement.

My husband once considered attending a relative’s wedding, taking place a fair distance from us in the family’s hometown. I asked him if he would attend it if it were local and he had to pay the same cost to attend ($300+ for airline tickets, to start). He said, “Are you crazy?” And that settled that. But for a couple who deliberately set the event in a locale that would cost the guests big money to attend? I’m not sure I’d bother with an RSVP for that, since it’s nothing more than a solicitation to buy tickets for someone else’s party.

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ladyv21454 September 13, 2017 at 11:02 am

If one or both of the people getting married are people you really care about, you might consider it worth it to pay the money to attend a destination wedding. Also, I think there’s been a shift in the definition of “destination wedding”. It used to mean the wedding was being held in some exotic location like Hawaii or the Bahamas; now it’s used for any wedding location that involves travel for the majority of the guests. Example: Bride from Massachusetts and groom from Florida meet at college in Colorado. The couple decides they would like to get married at the chapel on the college campus, despite the fact that they’re now living on the East Coast. This wouldn’t be an “exotic” location, but it would entail travel for most of the attendees – and would be considered by many people to be a “destination” wedding.

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Ernie September 13, 2017 at 11:08 am

I’m not clear on your opposition to destination weddings here, as inconvenient as they may be for some. The couple doesn’t get the money from the airline ticket or the hotel.

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PJ September 13, 2017 at 11:18 am

My guess: this wasn’t just the last straw, but the LW probably felt obliged to attend the rehearsal dinner, since she’s the wife of a groomsman.

She’s right to decline. The couple sounds like they’ve overreached with their planning and want everyone else to foot the bill. It always comes across to me like the couple doesn’t realize that their wedding is “the event of the year” only for them, and not for the rest of the world.

I don’t mind the destination wedding idea myself, though, as long as the couple is prepared for a short guest list to actually show up. After all, when the average person is asked to spend $XXX for travel and take days off of work, they’ll probably want to choose their own destination and agenda rather than someone else’s.

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MM September 14, 2017 at 10:12 am

lol destination weddings aren’t inherently rude or a scam. If you can’t afford to go or don’t want to go that’s your choice. Just like it’s the couple’s choice to have the wedding when they want it to be. My cousin just got married in Dominican Republic and I had a nice vacation there. Took some extra days off and enjoyed the island. It might be inconvenient but guests are adults who can make their own choices. Any wedding regardless of location will be a hassle for someone on the list.

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Lindsay September 13, 2017 at 11:44 am

With the wedding, I think the costs are already taken into consideration when you RSVP yes. She had already agreed to pay for that amount, but the additional was indeed the straw.

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CPete September 13, 2017 at 1:29 pm

The OP answered your question in her opening paragraph, when she said “we want to see our friends get married…we are looking forward to it.” There is nothing wrong with attending a destination wedding. There IS something wrong with inviting a couple to dinner and then only paying for one of them.

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Geekette September 13, 2017 at 10:52 pm

It sounds like you have very strong feelings about destination weddings. You’re certainly allowed chose not to not attend an event, but just because something is not to your liking does not mean that it is rude, or a scam.

Just as there’s nothing wrong with RSVPing ‘no’, there is nothing wrong to choosing to arrange a wedding somewhere other than you live. You can be disappointed you cannot attend. You can feel that the hosts were perhaps inconsiderate to chose a venue that many of your invitees cannot attend, but the same would be true if they had a wedding nearby that required physical fitness to attend (weddings at the top of rock-climb mountains are pretty, but not for the faint of spirit). It is still an event that the B&G are hosting, and so long as they provide appropriate hospitality they can chose to have the event they want.

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Dee September 14, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Inviting people to an event that requires a significant amount of financial investment just to get to the venue is not polite or okay. A person can choose to attend such an event, that’s their choice, but the question the OP was posing was whether the bride and groom were being rude. Well, yes, but that started back with the destination wedding, not with the rehearsal dinner. The OP instinctively knows this, she just can’t see it for all that she’s already been roped into.

If you think it’s okay to invite people to your wedding up on top of a big rock, requiring physical fitness, then you are clearly only interested in your physically fit guests attending, which is made loud and clear to all and sundry. You might think that’s okay, but I certainly can’t see value in a friendship with conditions like that. If a friend can’t accept me as I am then they’re not much of a friend, are they?

Destination weddings, if the bridal couple are being honest, are about tricking your friends into joining you, and paying for, the vacation of YOUR choice. And couples are more than aware that the majority of guests may not attend because of the exorbitant entry fee but will still send a gift. The couple wins there, too, not having to pay for a large reception but getting many gifts out of the deal. Most people aren’t stupid, they can see the scam, and even diehard friends will feel a lot of conflict on the money they are being ‘forced’ to shell out to ‘prove’ their friendship. As evidenced by the OP’s accounting of just how much this wedding is already costing her. She might be wanting to wish her friend(s) well but she’s still naturally keeping score, because the cost is so way out of line.

As Miss Manners says, destination weddings aren’t new they just used to be called ‘elopement’, and the couple didn’t ask anyone to shell out to join them on their big day. Now they want their cake and eat it, too. How is that not rude?

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Abby September 14, 2017 at 1:33 pm

OK, so what if a couple decides to elope, and their immediate family is disappointed they can’t be there to see it? And they would have been perfectly willing to shell out the money to go? I don’t see how eloping vs inviting someone to watch your elopement and celebrate with you after is really much different.

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Ange September 14, 2017 at 8:41 pm

Most people nowadays have weddings where some portion of the guest list has to travel, it’s part and parcel of today’s more mobile society. Personally I would love the option to join my friends in say, Hawaii, rather than the bride’s home town in the middle of nowhere. You seem to be forgetting that part. For my wedding most of my family lived two flights away. It wasn’t a ‘destination’, it was just where I lived at the time. The majority couldn’t attend and I understood because believe it or not, I’m not so suspicious of people and their motives that I thought they had to prove they loved me. Nobody is being tricked, it’s not like the destination is a secret or the couple gets access to your money somehow. Like most things adults do it’s a choice and we all decide whether or not to participate.

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Geekette September 14, 2017 at 8:45 pm

If your engaged relatives lived in a different country to you, would you resent having to travel for their wedding? Or would you expect them to have the wedding in the country their extended family lives in and have their friends travel instead? What about if the bride and groom have different home states on either side of the continent? Ironically for your argument, destination weddings are probably the one version of event travel that’s equally demanding on everyone, including the B&G.

Most big events are always going to demand some degree of investment in cost, time and effort to attend. That’s just life. And sometimes events, even events arranged by friends and family, are not going to suit you. There are too many people and too many factors; all the planning and bending over backwards to others needs isn’t ever going to be enough to fully satisfy everyone. Its up to each host to separately determine how to balance the needs of all the invitees against the event they want to have. After that, both sides simply need to accept that not being able to attend is merely unfortunate, not a personal slight.

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Dee September 15, 2017 at 12:44 pm

Holding a wedding where you live is not a destination wedding, so I’m confused as to why that has been brought into the discussion. There’s a big difference between a wedding held where people already live and one where no one lives, in a place the couple has chosen that happens to be far away from all the guests. One is a matter of circumstance and the other deliberate. For generations guests have declined attending long distance weddings simply because shelling out for travel, just for a wedding, was neither possible nor expected. I don’t care what the event is, an expectation that you will need to ‘make an investment’ to attend is appalling. A guest choosing to pay a lot to attend a wedding is different from a bridal couple expecting all guests to pay a lot to attend, the former being a choice and the latter being an expectation. I’ve been invited to long-distance weddings and attended some, but never a destination one. I don’t have friends who would automatically expect their guests to pay a high fee to attend their events. If I did, then they wouldn’t be friends, because friends don’t do that.

Semperviren September 15, 2017 at 10:03 am

We say it all the time here: an invitation isn’t a summons.

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EOM September 15, 2017 at 1:29 pm

Honestly, your POV is so far out of line that I don’t even know if it’s possible to reason with you. If you honestly believe that destination weddings are about “tricking” the HC’s loved ones, then you can go on believing the worst of people. I wouldn’t want you anywhere near my wedding anyway.

I suppose that if I live 2 flights away from my family, I’m a selfish jerk for getting married where I live? After all, why should you allow yourself to be tricked and scammed into coming to my home where I’m having my wedding?

I think you need to get over yourself. It’s not about you. Be a grown up and decline a wedding that you can’t afford to go to. Don’t sit there and malign the couple because you can’t get over your own inconvenience.

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ladyv21454 September 18, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Dee, I’m not sure I agree that destination weddings per se are impolite or a scam. What IS extremely rude are brides/grooms/couples that get bent out of shape if someone declines the invitation. You’re entitled to have your wedding anywhere you want; you are NOT entitled to use emotional blackmail to get people to attend.

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lakey September 13, 2017 at 10:56 am

This is an easy one. Have a wedding you can afford. People put way too much focus on the superficial aspects of the wedding.
As far as the $100 + restaurant that has special meaning for the couple? The couple could go there on their own on a day after the wedding or a couple of days before.

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DGS September 13, 2017 at 11:18 am

This is of course, blatantly rude. The only way that I would not pay for a plus-one in that setting would be if the member of the wedding party had just begun dating a new partner and wanted to bring a plus-one to the rehearsal or the wedding. If the person is in an existing relationship with a partner, then he or she is invited with that partner, and the host pays for both. If the person is single, RSVP’d for the wedding as 1 person and suddenly, decided to bring a plus-one, the hosts (in this case, the couple), has to produce a polite spine and say, “We so look forward to meeting Janet/Jonas after we return from our honeymoon. Unfortunately, we have already turned in our final head count to the venue, and we will not be able to accommodate him or her at this time.”

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Abby September 13, 2017 at 11:41 am

Wow…this is SO rude. If Bride and Groom are sentimental about this place, they should just go there on their own, not make it their spot for their rehearsal dinner. I don’t think this would be acceptable if this was at a place that was local to the entire wedding party, and this rudeness is amplified when it’s an out of town wedding.

I don’t have a problem with destination weddings, as long as the bride and groom are gracious about people opting not to attend (and not grousing about the other ways the declining guests spend their money, which I have seen. On a wedding website I used to go on, a poster was furious because her cousin declined to come to her destination wedding due to finances but then went on a vacation somewhere else. Poster absolutely felt that if the would be guest had the means to go on vacation, those funds should have been put towards destination wedding. So entitled). My feeling is, people should get married where they want to, and at least this option allows people to come if they want to come (vs an elopement). But asking the spouses of your best friends to pay their own way or don’t come, because YOU are set on eating at a certain place and have not made any other budget concessions? Extremely selfish.

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Melissa September 14, 2017 at 9:44 am

I believe that people should be able to spend their vacation time and money on a vacation that is for THEM. If you know someone is getting married in a tropical location, and you love the beach, and have the finances to go, then great! If you hate the beach and prefer mountain vacations, then no, you should not be obligated to take a vacation you don’t prefer to accommodate someone else’s wishes. This was how I felt when I was getting married as well. There were a couple of locations away from home, where I would have loved to get married. As far as guests, our parents were our main priority; if other friends/family had wanted to come, that would’ve been great, but our parents were the only ones that would have had their feelings hurt if we didn’t include them. Neither of the destination locations would have worked for all of our parents and step-parents, so we didn’t choose those options. Although our parents probably would have went along with whatever we decided, there was no way I was putting them into a position to either spend time and money on a vacation they didn’t prefer or miss their son/daughter’s wedding. There was even a location in town that we loved but it would have been physically difficult for one parent to manage, so we nixed that one too. People need to be more important than places or things! If having certain people at your wedding is important to you, then you have to consider them when planning.

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ladyv21454 September 14, 2017 at 10:48 am

Sounds like the cousin in the case you mentioned was completely honest when she said she couldn’t come to the destination wedding due to finances – the finances in question being money she had already committed to her OWN vacation.

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Abby September 14, 2017 at 1:30 pm

I know, but the poster was saying that if the cousin *really* cared about her, she would have allocated those vacation funds to the destination wedding. Basically, if any guest was going to decline coming because of money, they should not be allowed to spend their own money on ANYTHING deemed a luxury. I certainly don’t agree with that, but that was what the poster was saying. My point was, if you want to have a destination wedding, fine, but then you can’t sulk when people who would have attended your local wedding decide not come.

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Jane September 14, 2017 at 2:18 pm

I have no issue with destination weddings either, but that might come from the fact that pretty much every wedding I’ve been to I’ve had to travel for because the person lived in a different place than me. No matter where one gets married some people will probably have to travel for it unless you and your family all live in the same place. I live across the country from where I grew up but would want to get married in my hometown, so all my friends in the city I live in now would have to travel. My mother is from a different country so her family would have to travel to the US, my siblings and my father’s family all live in different states, and all my high school friends live in different states from the one we grew up in. You can’t please everyone with a location, so why not just pick a place that you want to go to and then be understanding if people can’t attend?

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BagLady September 13, 2017 at 11:56 am

“1. What is there to rehearse? It’s not like you never sat down and had dinner before. Why is it called rehearsal dinner?
2. What kind of food is being served? The exact thing that will be served at the wedding? But why would you want to eat the same thing at the same restaurant twice without some time in between?”

“Rehearsal dinner” refers to the wedding rehearsal. Many couples have a run-through of the ceremony with the wedding party and officiant a day or two before the big event, so everyone knows who stands where, who does what when, etc. Then they all go to dinner — that’s why it’s called the rehearsal dinner. It’s usually at a different venue from the wedding reception.

Not all weddings have rehearsals, and not every rehearsal is accompanied by a fancy meal. I’ve seen rehearsal dinners that consisted of pizza and wings at someone’s house.

If my other half were in a wedding party and I was not, I wouldn’t be offended if spouses/SO’s weren’t invited to the rehearsal dinner. Heck, it means we don’t have to sit through the rehearsal with nothing to do! I *would* be offended if I were invited and had to pay for my meal. That’s just gauche.

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bgolly September 13, 2017 at 12:18 pm

In North America a rehearsal dinner is held after practicing the actual logistics of walking down the aisle and making sure everyone knows where to stand or what to do during the ceremony. Sometimes the priest or wedding officiant is at the rehearsal as well. They are not rehearsing eating the actual dinner. Usually the rehearsal dinner is held at a different venue (usually a restaurant) than the wedding reception. The wedding rehearsal takes place at the location of the ceremony.

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Shawna Rose September 13, 2017 at 4:35 pm

Marie,
I believe it is called a rehearsal dinner because it is meant to come after the rehearsal for the wedding, e.g. practicing walking down the aisle. That’s why everyone in the wedding party comes. The wedding rehearsal tends to be the day before the wedding, and then everyone goes to dinner afterwards. Sometimes additional people are invited to the dinner. I’ve never heard of one half of a couple having to pay their way at a rehearsal dinner, or anywhere else for that matter. Rehearsal dinners, in particular, tend to be paid for by the parents of the bride/groom, or the bride and groom themselves.

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Agania September 13, 2017 at 6:34 pm

Marie,
This is probably one of many responses. I think you misunderstand the definition of Rehearsal Dinner. Traditionally, the day before the wedding, the Bride, Groom and wedding party get together to rehearse at the church/chapel/wherever walking down the aisle, where they will stand, etc. Usually the celebrant attends as well. Then afterwards, everyone goes out to dinner – paid for by the groom’s family (as the Bride’s family pays for the wedding). Those who have traveled a fair distance are invited as well. This is the traditional point of the Rehearsal Dinner. Please note my use of the word ‘Tradition’. Over time the rehearsal dinner has morphed into the monstrosity that it is today.

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Emmy September 13, 2017 at 8:18 pm

I think any special meaning of the pricey rehearsal venue will be overshadowed by excluding 1/2 of couples and the hard feelings it will produce. If the venue is so special, yet too pricey to pay for the rehearsal dinner there, the bride and groom should go there by themselves and choose a more reasonably priced place for the rehearsal dinner. If I was an excluded spouse, I would definitely be doing something else that evening. This is especially considering that the guests all shelled out a lot of money to even come to the destination wedding.

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CookieLover September 14, 2017 at 1:36 am

I think a lot of people cut corners and do tacky and sometimes hurtful things with weddings in a misguided attempt to include as many guests as possible. Personally I think it’s better to have less people and host properly but I feel I’m in the minority.

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Dee September 14, 2017 at 12:37 pm

I agree with you, that you (and I) seem to be in the minority, that common sense and graciousness have gone out the window in favour of feeding the wedding machine. I do think it’s amusing, though, how often young people these days are suspicious of their friends and their motives and how often they attribute even small faux pas as nefarious intent on the part of their friends. It’s as if they have been immersed in a culture of greediness so long that they can’t shake the feeling of being used or unappreciated at every turn. The new generation seems to be quite paranoid, and I think they have that right, given how often they ARE being used by so-called ‘friends’.

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Ange September 14, 2017 at 8:50 pm

You are the one calling destination weddings a ‘scam’ and ‘trickery’ and some sort of evil plot to ensnare gifts in this very thread. Very little common sense or graciousness on your part right there.

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Dee September 15, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Because there is no way for a guest to attend a destination wedding without paying an exorbitant fee, and the inference is that if you care for the bridal couple you will make every effort to attend. That’s emotional blackmail, right there, so yes, it is a scam and trickery. If no one is obligated to attend and if the friendship isn’t hinged on money and if there is no expectation for anyone to pay that kind of money just to attend a ceremony then the bridal couple will have no expectation for ANYONE to attend, right? I highly doubt, however, that there are any couples who wouldn’t hold a grudge and have at least some hard feelings if they were alone on their wedding day. So it’s really not a choice, is it? Either the guest pays an arm and a leg to attend or they risk a strained relationship with the couple. And what are the odds people who decline a destination wedding because of finances DON’T send a gift? They’re just so relieved to not have to spend big bucks that they see the gift as a small price to pay to keep themselves in good graces with the couple, whereas in any other situation most people don’t, and shouldn’t, feel obligated to send a gift for a wedding they’ve declined. And the bridal couple who chooses a destination wedding is pretty clear on that so, yes, it is the very definition of ‘scam’ and ‘trickery’.

Seems so convenient to forget that a wedding is a chance for the couple to host their guests, which means paying for EVERYTHING. Guests are not expected to make extraordinary efforts to attend. Their only obligation is to display good manners. A couple is free to have the event of their choosing as long as they don’t step outside of those simple parameters. Anything else is rude.

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Semperviren September 16, 2017 at 9:55 am

Wow. I really think this line of thinking requires a lot of rather uncharitable (and unequally applied) assumptions about the motives and feelings of the HC, and their guests, for that matter.

So K, who has her wedding in Palm Springs because she loves it there and the groom’s parents own a vacation home there, is “emotionally blackmailing” her friends and relatives in Northern CA, Alaska and Washington by inviting them? We assume she will sulk and hold grudges against those who decline the invitation and that the plan is to at least extract gifts from them? And we assume her guests feel resentful, insulted and blackmailed because they have to either incur travel costs, or decline?

But we don’t assume the same thing about J, who holds her wedding in Chicago, where she lives, and sends invitations to her friends and family in New York, Boston, and California? Why not?

It’s just an invitation. You don’t have to go. You’re not obliged to give a gift. That’s true across the board, no matter what kind of wedding it is. It’s on the HC to be understanding and gracious when people can’t be there and not to expect gifts. That’s true across the board, too, no matter what kind of wedding it is. I don’t think it’s constructive to ascribe ill motives to the couple for choosing a type of wedding you don’t approve of.

Ange September 17, 2017 at 7:12 pm

You are basing a lot of your argument on baseless and unkind assumptions about people hosting their wedding. There are plenty of examples in this thread of people (including myself) who don’t hold grudges because guests can’t attend due to travel time or cost and there certainly isn’t a lot of expectation that guests must attend or send a gift in order to prove their friendship. Perhaps you haven’t had the sort of good people in your life who would never treat friendship as transactional or, more likely, you don’t think much of people in general and it’s seeping out through your writing. Either way I think calling others graceless and rude is a bit of a pot/kettle situation.

nora September 14, 2017 at 7:28 am

Several years ago I was in a wedding that required me to fly from the East Coast of the US to the West Coast, rent a car for a week, and take on numerous other expenses. I was happy to do it but as a result I was on a tight budget. Two days before the rehearsal dinner it was announced that the family member who had previously agreed to pay for the meal now refused to do so, and all guests were expected to pay for themselves. The restaurant was fairly expensive (not $100/head but not, say, a diner) and I really struggled to take on the extra cost. Thankfully another bridesmaid generously paid for half my meal.

My fiance and I are getting married next month and we were very careful to pick venues based on cost – even if our guests had to pay their own way (and of course they don’t), everything would be easily affordable. After my friend’s wedding this was very important to me.

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NostalgicGal September 14, 2017 at 11:13 am

If you have someone in the WP and they have a SERIOUS other (been together long enough that it’s serious or engaged or married) it should be paying for both.

If only one and not the other, opt out of the dinner. Save them the cost x2 then. It’d be fun if the groomsmen all did the rehearsal, then collected their better halves and all went somewhere to eat together without the HC. Might be cheaper than paying for the $100 plate (that would cover both handily in a lot of places) and probably be more fun…

Let the HC have their special place to eat. Doesn’t mean everyone else even wants to eat there…

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Darshiva September 15, 2017 at 9:42 am

I agree. The spouses who are members of the wedding party may be obligated to attend the rehearsal, but they are not obligated to attend a dinner (which has no official wedding function, unlike the rehearsal, itself) if doing so means snubbing their own spouses!

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Barbarian September 14, 2017 at 12:33 pm

I hope this couple comes to their senses before it’s too late. Long-term friendships with the groomsmen and their significant others are at stake. Surely that is more important than a showy venue?

The couple should include everyone or find a less expensive alternative. This wedding is one day. Friendships last a lifetime.

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Celestia September 14, 2017 at 8:21 pm

I’m so amused that the 80+ comments I have here to read are mostly helpful explanations of rehearsal dinners and very little arguing.

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Darshiva September 15, 2017 at 9:03 am

It’s the age-old argument: Throw the wedding you can afford, not the wedding you think you deserve.

If you can’t afford to host all the people you invite at the place you want, then either choose a cheaper venue, or cut the guest list (BEFORE you send out the invitations!).

Unfortunately, I’d be willing to bet that these people found a book or online source, somewhere, that claims that 1) asking guests to pay their own way is OK, because they should be honored that you are inviting them to share your special day, anyway, 2) If you pay for the food for all the guests, they should give you a present that AT LEAST covers the cost of “the plate,” regardless of the fact that they will not have any idea how much their “plate” costs, anyway, and 3) That if you invite someone to a wedding, they MUST send you a gift, even if they decline the invitation, and so you should invite waaaaaaayyyyyy more people than you expect to show up, because the ones who decline will give gifts that are valuable enough to cover the price of “the plate” for the guests who accept, and finally, 4) Weddings are excellent means of raising funds. And the worst part is that this book or online source that claims all this stuff will also claim to be “correct etiquette.”

In my opinion, the only way to throw a destination wedding is to pay all travel/food/hotel/entertainment/activity costs for all the guests you invite, and have a very small guest list. Why pay for it all? Because traveling to a destination may be lovely once you get there, but it is a real pain in the neck to get back and forth, and a whole lot more hassle than a regular local wedding, not to mention the extra time they have to spend, rather than a single day, and since you are asking your guests to submit to so much extra hassle and extra time off work, you should pay for it.

I also think that bridal couples should pay for the “costumes” of the bridal party. If you don’t say “Wear what you want,” then you are, in effect, costuming them, and should pay for it. But that’s a different letter.

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Dee September 16, 2017 at 1:16 pm

Careful, Darshiva, your common sense and graciousness is going to get you labelled as ridiculous and selfish. What you’re proposing would bring joy back to guests who would look forward to attending these kinds of events, instead of dread over the demands and financial repercussions of RSVPing “yes”. The wedding industry would have a fit …

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EOM September 18, 2017 at 4:14 pm

It’s unfortunate that you have such ugly contempt for the people in your life that if they don’t play out their milestones according to your strict rules then they are deemed selfish, rude, grudge holding, etc. And that the guests are all seething ninnies that can’t say no to something they can’t afford. It sounds quite miserable. I’m glad that I have people in my life that don’t start from a point of contemptuous judgement. It makes life so much more pleasant.

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NostalgicGal September 16, 2017 at 10:05 pm

We technically did a ‘destination wedding’ as far as both sides were concerned. We lived in a city where we were going to college. To shut down a lot of drama we made everyone come there (about six hours for each set of parents) so no one MIL could dominate (like my mom was trying super hard to do). Everything was very simple and a step above going to the courthouse. My mom and her sisters still caused issues and had more drama than I needed that day. She had her director’s cut of events until she passed away. So ‘destination wedding’ could mean merely that you have to go out of town to attend. I know it usually means airfare and crossing large bodies of water, but.

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ladyv21454 September 18, 2017 at 12:24 pm

I’m curious about one thing. The way the OP describes the situation in the second paragraph – “we want to see our friends get married” – doesn’t sound as though either her or her husband is actually IN the wedding party. If they were, I think she would have specified that. So in essence, she’s being offended on other people’s account, not her own. Sounds like she needs to just MHOB in this case, since it doesn’t affect her.

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