A rehearsal dinner is a pre-wedding ceremony in North American tradition, usually held after the wedding rehearsal and the night before the wedding ceremony.
What is the purpose of the rehearsal dinner?
The purpose of the rehearsal dinner is for the relatives and friends of the bride and groom to meet and have a good time. The couple generally takes this opportunity to thank everyone who has put work into helping them with the wedding preparations.
Who is invited?
The guests generally include the couple to be married and others who form the wedding party, but may also include extended family and out-of-town guests. Any children of the bride and groom from a previous marriage are invited, unless they are too young. Parents of young attendants, such as a flower girl or ring bearer, are also included. If single members of the wedding party were invited to bring a date to the wedding, then it's kind to include the date at the rehearsal dinner.
What happens during the dinner?
The focus of the dinner is for the wedding party and the two families to relax and enjoy each other's company, and to celebrate the bride and groom and the joining of two families. Sometimes, this will be the first time that the two families meet. Activities generally include toasting (or roasting) and the presentation of small gifts for those who have helped plan the wedding. It's important for the couple and their parents to make sure that everyone is introduced to each other.
The rehearsal dinner costs are traditionally incurred by the parents of the groom. However, modern traditions allow for either the parents of the bride or the parents of the groom to incur these costs.