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Rehearsal dinner - In-laws - etiquette

 
 
Reply Fri 26 Aug, 2016 10:54 am
Hi! This is my first post.

I'm getting married this year in NJ. My soon-to-be in-laws (who live on the west coast) are throwing a rehearsal dinner. They seem to want to schedule it to begin at 8pm. I feel this is too late.

Their rationale seems to stem from them being under the impression that a rehearsal dinner is an event intended primarily for out-of-town guests (thus, mainly their family). I feel it should be scheduled at a time so as not to inconvenience my family who are local (and some of whom are older).

I suspect my family would be taken aback to be invited as guests at a party being thrown for out of towners. How can I explain to my fiancé that it is offensive to presume that my people should just kick around until such a time as the wary travelers are arrived and rested? Isn’t this against wedding etiquette? If they want to throw a party for their friends and family, shouldn’t they just do that separately (not as a part of the rehearsal dinner)?

How do I go about gently redirecting their planning?

Thanks, Regan
 
contrex
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Aug, 2016 10:58 am
This could be the thin end of the wedge. Let them mess you about now, before you are even married, think what it'll be like when you are married. Don't take any ****. Let them know this is YOUR wedding, and YOUR family matters much more than they do. That way they'll know not to overstep the line again, and you should have a long and happy marriage. As for your fiancé, the same applies. Let him know not to interfere or take their side. Start as you mean to go on.

0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  4  
Reply Fri 26 Aug, 2016 11:05 am
@StrykerFalconn,
The rehearsal dinner is for people in the wedding party.

That's it. That's all.

Family and friends not in the wedding party are not usually invited to the rehearsal dinner. We don't invite +1's to rehearsal dinners. Parents of ring bearers/flower girls are invited.

The wedding rehearsal happens (at whatever time the officiant is available), then there is a meal for the people who participated in the rehearsal.

Since children are often part of the wedding party, it's usually not a good idea to have a very late meal.

___

Pay for your own rehearsal dinner. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. Most people aren't in the mood for anything elaborate after the rehearsal.
___

If your future-in-laws want to host something for the out-of-towners, they can do something else at another time. I've noticed they often host a brunch the day after the wedding for the out-of-towners to catch up with each other before they head back out.
__


I'd suggest letting them know you've already made plans for the rehearsal dinner and asking them when they want to have their out-of-towners get-together. Suggest a couple of time slots.
StrykerFalconn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Aug, 2016 11:07 am
@ehBeth,
It's just tricky because they have offered to pay. (My parents are footing the bill for the wedding).
jespah
 
  5  
Reply Fri 26 Aug, 2016 11:22 am
@StrykerFalconn,
These are two separate events.

Rehearsal dinners are for the bridal party. They are generally smaller affairs. Your bridesmaids meet the ushers if they haven't already, etc. You can have fun but it is a good time to set out expectations, e. g. Martin, please escort my elderly grandmother to a seat, or Jenny, could you please hold the flower girl's hand as you go down the aisle? Her mother is sick with flu and can't make it.

It's that sort of thing.

Details: http://reveriegallery.com/invite-rehearsal-dinner/ (in the interests of full disclosure, I work for that blog).

Now, a party for out of town guests is a different story. The blog post actually talks about combining them, but that is not strictly necessary. And understand where that blog is coming from; it's for very high-end weddings. I am assuming yours is not a six-figure wedding (if it is, then leave this to your planner; that's a part of what they're paid for).

If there are only a few out of town guests, that could be an easy thing at a restaurant. You might want to do it yourselves, particularly given that the parents are footing some rather large bills. Or see how your mother or maybe an aunt (someone local) feels about it.

For my own wedding, these two occasions were held on the same evening. The conflict was fully intentional. The rehearsal was at my in-laws' and it was for the wedding party. We invited their plus ones but it was because they had jobs. One was driving us from the photographer's to the venue. The other was working the card table (kind of unofficially).

The party for out of towners fell to my mother to host. But she volunteered; she wanted to do this. I believe everyone who came was from my side of the family. But we are also a larger family and more spread out. I'm not so sure my husband had any truly far out of town guests.

My husband and I went to the rehearsal and, by the way, we actually rehearsed. It was quick, but everyone knew where they needed to stand, and who they were escorting, etc.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  3  
Reply Fri 26 Aug, 2016 11:32 am
@StrykerFalconn,
I think you need to accept that you will need to pay for the rehearsal dinner. Again, it does not need to be a big/expensive event.

Let them know you appreciate the kind thought but that you will be taking care of the rehearsal dinner. As you know they want to host something for the out-of-town guests, so give it to them as their event. It's not something you'd attend in any case. It is not for the bride and groom.

Jespah's suggestion to have them at the same time is good - except that you're hoping for an earlier rehearsal dinner. You could have the rehearsal - which is an actual working event so people will be tired at the end - then your small rehearsal dinner/cocktail party type event - then your in-laws-to- be can host their out-of-towners party'afterward while the wedding party members leave to relax and prepare for the wedding.

Remember that the event after the rehearsal is for the people who are part of the wedding. I would love to get some reward/meal/treat for all the driving/doing I've done for some weddings, but it's not normally for helpers.
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StrykerFalconn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Aug, 2016 12:37 pm
It's not that I think *my* family matters more than his. It's just that I want my fiancé to nip this in the bud before my family is offended. My feeling is that the rehearsal dinner is supposed to be for the wedding party and immediate family. It is a very small wedding with only ten or so guests flying in from my fiancé's side so there is some overlap between the two.
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Aug, 2016 01:50 pm
@StrykerFalconn,
If looking for proper etiquette - A rehearsal dinner is just that - what the name states - a dinner for those who are part of the wedding party and participating in the rehearsal of the wedding ceremony. Typically the rehearsal takes place the evening before the wedding (sometimes a day or two prior) at the church or whichever location the actual wedding ceremony itself is taking place. The dinner typically takes place immediately after the rehearsal. Also taking place is usually where gifts for the wedding party takes place. Traditionally the groom's parents pay for and host the rehearsal dinner.

8pm does not seem an unreasonable time to have such a dinner. If anything your local family can leave earlier if it is too much for them to be up so late. Can you explain why your family would be taken aback to be invited to a party thrown my out of towners?

It is a bit rude to request someone offering to pay for a party to request things from them - if so it would have to come from your future spouse to make the request. How (I am assuming it is a he) does he feel about this? Does he feel comfortable making such a request?

Another option is to suggest why don't you go ahead and plan this party for the out of town guests and will we plan and pay for the rehearsal dinner. If you want to put parameters around time/who to invite, etc. then you would need to pay (at least that is my opinion).
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  2  
Reply Fri 26 Aug, 2016 01:58 pm
@StrykerFalconn,
StrykerFalconn wrote:

It's not that I think *my* family matters more than his. It's just that I want my fiancé to nip this in the bud before my family is offended. My feeling is that the rehearsal dinner is supposed to be for the wedding party and immediate family. It is a very small wedding with only ten or so guests flying in from my fiancé's side so there is some overlap between the two.


Curious - what time is the rehearsal? Why not just suggest we have the dinner right after the rehearsal - the party can extend later if they like thus giving those older relatives a chance to go home earlier and then for those coming from out of time to arrive to the party whenever? With so few coming from out of time, I find it hard to not accommodate them as well. If as some suggested you make this more casual then it is easier to have people come and go as it works for their time frame. Sort more an open house than a formal dinner.

Although it was at a restaurant we had ours more set up informal - we had a section of the restaurant to ourselves and ordered pizzas, pasta dishes, sandwich trays and salads - set up on a long table so you could help yourselves rather than a sit down dinner. It was set up in a way that more people got up, talked and socialized with one another. It was probably one of the least expensive, informal rehearsal dinners I ever attended and everyone complemented us on it as they said they had more fun than any other they attended.

The idea is to get together and socialize and relax - not an uptight affair.
0 Replies
 
mark noble
 
  0  
Reply Sat 27 Aug, 2016 08:09 am
Or - You could do the 'logical' thing?
StrykerFalconn
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Aug, 2016 08:50 am
@mark noble,
Quote:
Or - You could do the 'logical' thing?

Which is…?
Mame
 
  2  
Reply Sat 27 Aug, 2016 09:48 am
@StrykerFalconn,
What have you decided to do? I think the suggestions made by the three women sound quite reasonable.
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StrykerFalconn
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Aug, 2016 11:56 am
I'm not sure. In the meantime I think I'll explain to my fiancé what the rehearsal dinner is supposed to be and suggest he try to gently set his parents straight. If the out of town guests really want to come, they can arrange their travel accordingly. In the end, I think it's about setting a precedent. I worry that because my parents are footing the bill for the rest of the wedding, that they'll see it as tacky.
Linkat
 
  5  
Reply Sat 27 Aug, 2016 02:28 pm
@StrykerFalconn,
Well if they see it as tacky so be it. Your ultimate goal is to get married. You aren't going to please everyone..try to please yourselves and if someone else has an issue or is critical so be it. It is their problem. Don't let these petty differences of opinion ruin your day. Someone is going to be critical so what...let the poor sport sulk while you have a great time.


Just put it is perspective so you ... the couple..have the best time. It is all about you and you as a couple. Those that care most about you should be in support of it.
ossobucotemp
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Aug, 2016 02:50 pm
@Linkat,
Our wedding was simple, six of us there and happy about it, no one else invited even though friends were all for us.. The wedding dinner was at our favorite Chinese restaurant in LA, the Twin Dragon.. and we were adventurous, ordering jelly fish among the rest of the plates on the table, not least, potstickers. . (I had a small bite of the jellyfish.) We caught a movie afterwards, didn't like it (Red Shoes) and left for our homes. Long day.

The next day, we had invited many friends and family to our house and we did the cooking, except for the matter of the cake. A work friend insisted on bringing the cake, but that turned out to be some sort of debacle and she brought a store cake. I tried to console her. Luckily, bro in law's girlfriend showed up with a voluminous coconut cake. I still miss her (she didn't last as a girlfriend and that's another story).

We both could cook but were your basic learners. I've, all these years later, no idea what we cooked for that day.
I am sooooooooo glad I missed all the wedding planning stuff.

I remember writing the next day invites in caligraphy.



I have been to many weddings. I know about joy. I'm not fond of rigamarole.
But I do remember some beauteous weddings, one in particular in something like 1962..

I think they did divorce.
0 Replies
 
EllenHighwater
 
  4  
Reply Sat 27 Aug, 2016 04:58 pm
Good grief, talk about manners…

No matter what the "etiquette" is supposed to be, your in-laws are graciously offering to host a party. Barring some kind of latent power struggle that I am not understanding, it seems to me that allowing your in-laws feel like their offer (a gift?) is "tacky", irregardless of the event details (within reason) is by far the greater "faux-pas". I mean honestly, how much hardship could this really be creating? A couple extra guests? Staying up an extra hour? All in the name of celebrating you and your soon-to-be husband?

If it's really that important that everything is by the book, I guess I tentatively agree with some of the other fine posters above, in suggesting that you just throw the party yourself. But personally, if I were in your in-laws position, I would see that as a slap in the face.

Manners, etiquette, etc, these are just guidelines allowing others to feel valued and respected (while protecting yourself and your ensuring that you are valued and respected too). I can't help but think that something else is going on here. How exactly are they threatening or wronging you? I just don't get it. My sense is that you need to explain to us (or come to terms with on your own) a deeper issue here. If there isn't one, forgive me for saying so, but lighten up and let it go. It's a party for goodness sakes.

If it's really that important to you then keep it light and simple. Find a way to just casually suggest that it might be a little late for some of the old-timers. Offer to chip in for an extra hour so that people can arrive earlier if they need to. Tell them you can't wait to see them and their guests whenever they're ready and able to arrive. I think there is a decent chance they'll just flat-out ask you how you would like things to go.

Or just don't say anything and be grateful that you have a family that cares enough about you and is excited enough to travel the globe and throw a party to celebrate your special day.
ossobucotemp
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Aug, 2016 06:27 pm
@EllenHighwater,
Rolls eyes.
EllenHighwater
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Aug, 2016 06:49 pm
@ossobucotemp,
LOL. Too much? Wink
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ossobucotemp
 
  2  
Reply Sat 27 Aug, 2016 07:12 pm
@EllenHighwater,
I disagree, as it is not the inlaw's wedding to structure. No matter how nice they are.
EllenHighwater
 
  2  
Reply Mon 29 Aug, 2016 07:00 am
@ossobucotemp,
I still respectfully disagree. To call this "structuring a wedding" strikes me as a bit of a stretch. My point being that the groom's family seems like they are simply trying to make a contribution. Sure, maybe they have made some assumptions/choices that aren't what Regan would have made, but these things seem (1), relatively minor, (2), based on proactive, enthusiastic participation (I wish I had been this fortunate when I was married), and (3), made in consideration of the needs of (presumably) half of the wedding party/guests who are traveling at considerable time and expense. None of this seems unreasonable. What of the groom? Is he equally incensed? If so then maybe it's a bigger deal than I am understanding it to be.

The OP gave no indication that this had even become a dispute …yet. So by all means if she's going to be stuck on it, she might politely suggest a time change But it just strikes me as such a minor issue. (and I admit that is where I may be misunderstanding AND why I asked for clarification). In so far as the question originally pertained to "manners", I don't personally see the harm in graciously letting it go. As my Sunday school teacher used to say, "What would Jesus do?". Smile

Anyhow, just my two-cents.
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