This guide might be your lifeline for those who have wedding jitters and are bad organizers. We’ve compiled the duties of a maid of honour to help smoothen out the plan and share the details of what needs to be done pre-wedding and during the wedding. There’s a lot to unpack, but it’s not an impossible task.
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The rehearsal dinner is typically the first occasion when you get a sneak peek at how your actual wedding day will be. Although it isn’t an essential in the list of wedding-related events, it is quite popular. If you are planning to have one before your wedding, our tips will help you organize it well. Before we get to the tips, let us first try to understand in detail, what the rehearsal dinner is all about.
What you need to know about the rehearsal dinner
The main thing couples should know about planning a rehearsal dinner is that it should be a simple event that shouldn’t further strain their pockets nor nerves. Most couples already have their bank balances stretched thin by the wedding expenses. If this is the case, you can altogether skip the event, or tone it down as you deem suitable.
The rehearsal dinner is usually held close to the wedding date, mostly during the week leading up to the wedding. Both the bride’s and bridegroom’s extended families would be in town to attend the wedding, by this time. So, the rehearsal dinner gives them an opportunity to meet each other in an informal setting, so they are better acquainted in time for the wedding.
This is also when the bride and groom usually meet the rest of their in-laws, and so it is a great opportunity for introductions prior to the wedding. Traditionally, the wedding was hosted by the bride’s family, and so the rehearsal dinner was conducted by the groom’s family. Nowadays, there are no such hard and fast rules. Usually, the bride and groom themselves pitch in for the rehearsal dinner.
Although it is called a wedding rehearsal dinner, the setting for the event doesn’t have to be similar to the wedding. It can be organized in an entirely different venue, and you have the flexibility of planning the menu and event details based on your personal preferences. This article on A Practical Wedding Blog tells us about the actual intentions behind rehearsal dinners. This is perhaps the only time when your folks and your partner’s families will all be together, and you might as well make the most of it by hanging out together. So, host a rehearsal dinner to make the most of this opportunity.
If the wedding attendants and family will not be arriving early, you can even replace the rehearsal dinner with a casual get-together on the wedding morning. Basically, you do not need a huge budget for the rehearsal dinner. The main aim is to just break the ice and help all the main people at the wedding relax and get to know each other, so they can have fun together at the wedding. You can also use this opportunity to discuss wedding day plans and share relevant information regarding arrangements, with the concerned people.
Now that we know the gist of what the rehearsal dinner is all about, let us move on to the interesting part of how to plan this event right.
Tips to nail the rehearsal dinner
1.Keep it relaxed
You will have enough formality at your wedding, so let your rehearsal dinner be casual. Since there are no steadfast rules to planning this event, try to set the ambiance for the venue and meal in a relaxed style, so everyone enjoys the company. Rather than having a traditional sit-down plated meal, opt for an open buffet or even consider a barbecue. The menu needn’t be too elaborate or expensive. Instead, focus on keeping the company entertained. You can have a semi-formal to casual dress code for the event.
2.Plan the guest list well
The rehearsal dinner is intended only for those who are really close to the bride, groom and their families. This includes the wedding attendants, extended families and close friends. If there are too many people, the atmosphere will cease to be relaxed and fun. So, try to limit the guest list. If you have any out-of-town guests arriving in time for the dinner, do consider inviting them to it. If your budget doesn’t permit too many guests, you can have an exclusive dinner for those who are very close to you, and host a brief tea party or dessert party for the rest of the people on the list.
3.Get the timing right
Rehearsal dinners are usually held on the wedding eve. This allows the wedding attendants to take time off work the evening before, and be free and relaxed in time for the wedding. It also gave an exciting start to the wedding festivities that they were to be involved in. However, this may not always be the best idea, if your wedding isn’t on a weekend. If so, it is better to plan the wedding rehearsal dinner two days prior to the wedding, so all have time to settle down after this event. It may also be better for the couple, if either of them are easily overwhelmed with organizing or attending an event so close to the actual wedding day. If there aren’t many out-of-town guests in the rehearsal dinner invite list, you can plan it for the weekend before the wedding. The main thing to remember is that it should be convenient for you and leave you enough time to recuperate for the wedding celebration.
4.Plan the venue right
We’ve seen rehearsal dinners held everywhere—from banquet halls, to country clubs, parks and even in backyards. Although there is no right or wrong location, the chosen venue should be one that appeals to the couple. We loved one idea, where the couple decided to bring back some special memories by planning their rehearsal dinner at a quaint restaurant where they had their first date. The wedding was a huge affair, so this was an entirely different and refreshing experience. Your choice of venue should also be based on how much you want to handle yourself. When you pick a restaurant or club, all the details will be handled by the staff. So, you can relax and not worry too much, especially if you have a lot to do on the wedding day. On the other hand, if you have outsourced most of your wedding planning to a wedding planner, you may like to plan the rehearsal dinner yourself, so you can be involved in this fully. A party held in your home or backyard will require more effort, and you must have the time and bandwidth to set it up and clean up afterwards. However, this will usually be a cheaper option, as you will not have to rent the place, and can plan the décor and theme based on what is economical.
5.Pick a theme
Although this is an informal event, having a theme makes it more interesting. The theme could be as simple as a color combination or pattern, or even a style from an era, depending on your personal taste. Although many brides worry that picking a theme will make it more work, the opposite is actually true. A theme gives you an outline to work with. This is better than looking at hundreds of options and ending up totally confused about whether all that you choose will come together. This rehearsal dinner guide on the Martha Stewart wedding blog suggests that you pick a choose a theme that is entirely different from your wedding. This should be a representation of your personalities, and it is also an opportunity to use those quirky ideas that you love, but were not wedding appropriate.
6.Make it interesting by planning activities and games
Although all the people at your party may have heard of each other, they may not know everyone there, and may not ease up till they do. Get them going, by planning some activities where they get to break the ice and help them mingle. You could pass the mike around and ask them to introduce themselves, or start off with a game or fun activity that they will like to join in. Also serve the drinks up right at the beginning of the party, as this quickly lets guests ease into the party spirit and start conversing. It is also a good idea to plan the seating arrangements so everyone gets to sit with someone they will find interesting. Mix up both sides of the party, so guests do not sit with people they already know. This will also allow you to avoid uncomfortable situations where people who do not get along may end up sitting together.
7.Chat with everyone
You may be too busy on your wedding day to get in touch with everyone. Although you should acknowledge all your guests on your wedding day as well, it is likely that it may not be practical especially if you have a large wedding. Nevertheless, the people at your rehearsal dinner deserve to be specially acknowledged just for the fact that they are important enough to be a part of this event. So, make sure you find time to greet and meet each and every guest there, both from your side as well as your groom’s. Since the gathering isn’t formal, and you do not have any elaborate time schedule for the event, this shouldn’t be a problem. Also use this opportunity to introduce members of the party to each other, so they can start a conversation. Give these new associations a good start, and you will have many more dear ones to add to your circle.
8.Toasts and roasts are fun
One of the fun parts of rehearsal weddings is that the informal atmosphere allows people who toast the couple, to open up and share more than they can at the wedding. There may be a lot of leg-pulling, but take it in the right spirit and it will also be fun as the crowd there knows either of you very well. You can have a bridesmaid or groomsman to emcee the toast(“or roast”) session, just in case you expect some people to hijack the mike for themselves. Nevertheless, plan this into the time-line, probably during the main course, so everyone enjoys it to the most, and you can also listen comfortably to all that they have to say.
9.Gifts are a great idea
You may have party favors for all the wedding attendees. However, the rehearsal dinner is the right chance for you to give a special token of your love to your extra-special guests. So, plan this in advance, and get the invitees a valuable gift to remember you by. It isn’t necessary to give everyone the same gift, as you would at your wedding. Choose different gifts for different groups, like one for men and another for women, or choose the gifts based on age. If you have a color or pattern theme going on at the wedding, consider getting gifts that are customized to match this theme for more excitement.
10.This is the right time for announcements
Before everyone leaves the party, make sure you share any relevant information or updates about the wedding day. Since many of the guests will be playing active roles on your wedding day, use this opportunity for last-minute instructions and updates. Double-check whether they are all aware of the timings, what they should bring and where they should be at what time. Remember that this is not the time for last-minute changes, you should only use this time to remind everyone of what they already know.
Finally, wind up the day and enjoy your journey home, for it will be soon time for wedding bells to ring.
Just like with the wedding, you should dress to impress at your rehearsal dinner. All eyes will be on you, the bride, and you need a fantastic dress to impress the guests from your groom’s side. Find a fabulous dress that will be perfect for the event, from our evening dress collection at Best for Bride. Check out our collection here.
Being a bridesmaid for the first time is a thrilling experience. It is not to be taken lightly when you have been given the honour of being at the wedding party. This is only because the bride values you a lot and would love to have you by her side on the most important day of her life. But, when you think of it this way, it can also be daunting. So, don’t be surprised if you feel nervous about donning the role.
Here are some of the most important things that you should know. This will help you handle your role well, not have any nasty surprises, and understand what the bride will expect you to do. So, let’s begin!
Brides often have a young cousin or a niece who isn’t old enough to be a bridesmaid, but is too old to fit into the role of a flower girl. When this girl is dear to the bride, she usually wants her in the wedding party, but may not be sure of what role to give her. Fortunately, there is a perfect role to honor these not-so-little girls with, and it is “Junior Bridesmaid!”
If you have already chosen one or more junior bridesmaids, or intend to have them at your wedding, here is a list of all the things you need to know.
1.How old does someone have to be to be a junior bridesmaid?
Anyone who fits the description of big girl, but is not yet a grown up woman, can be a junior bridesmaid. It is usually a role suitable for girls aged between 9 and 15. This role is perfect for girls from either your family or your groom’s, or for young girls who you are very fond of and would love to include in your wedding. Think back and you will realize how you wouldn’t have been too pleased to be a flower girl when you were say 10 years old. The same goes for your junior bridesmaids. They may not be old enough to take up responsibility as a bridesmaid, but consider themselves too old to be a flower girl. So, this is the in-between role where they will be treated as a grown up girl, but the demands on them will be appropriate for their young age.
2.Does she also wear the same dress as the rest of the bridesmaids?
This is left to your discretion, and depends on how the girl looks and feels. There are teenagers who prefer to dress much older. And then, there are others who look too young for their actual age. So, go with your intuition, and of course, consult the girl and her parents. This is very important, especially if the bridesmaids dresses are on the sexier side. If your bridesmaid dress choice is one that is suitable on women of all ages, and you can find one in her size too, go with it. Otherwise, you can choose a less complicated dress that matches the rest of the bridal party look and still looks good on her. Low-cut dresses and ones with long slits are not appropriate for a young girl, and her parents may not appreciate the idea if you choose to dress her in this on your wedding day. Either search for a dress in a matching or complementing color and design, or have a seamstress alter a bridesmaid dress to suit her. Simple changes like adding straps or moving the neckline up with an illusion design may render the same dress suitable for her age. The other option is to get a whole other dress made for her, that goes well with the rest of the wedding party attire. Just make sure that you consult her before you choose her look, and that she looks modest and feels comfortable in what you choose, and all will be well.
3.When do we buy her dress and from where?
It is better to get your junior bridesmaid’s dress closer to your wedding date, as these girls are at an age where drastic changes can alter their overall appearance in a matter of months. So, it may not be a good idea to shop for your junior bridesmaids dress, several months in advance when you buy the rest of the wedding party dresses. Don’t buy it before four or five months from your wedding day, and have it altered in the month leading up to the wedding to make sure it fits. Most bridal shops like Best for Bride will have Junior Bridesmaids dress collections, and you should be able to find ones that are similar to the bridesmaids dresses you choose from the same place. If you choose from the same collection and material, you should be able to find the exact shade for both your bridesmaids and junior bridesmaids dresses. Or, you can have your bridesmaid dress picked from the prom dress collection, if there is a suitable choice there. If nothing works, you can consider having her dress custom-made.
4.Does she get the rest of the accessories, hair and makeup like the other bridesmaids?
This is again an individual choice. It is up to you to decide how she ought to look. Although most girls would rather prefer to look more like the bridesmaids than flower girls, how you dress her is entirely your choice. You can give her a bridesmaid bouquet, like the rest of your wedding party. Or, you could have a miniature version made specially for her. Be practical when you decide how her hair and makeup should be done on the day. A simplified version of your bridal party’s overall look should be fine. You can also choose similar jewelry, flowers or other accessories for her, so she blends in well with the crowd. If your bridesmaids will all be trotting around in high heels, you may have to get a low-heel shoe for your junior bridesmaid unless she is old enough to handle it. This will help you avoid any unnecessary accidents on the day. Again, it is a good idea to match it to the overall look of your wedding party, but do not choose something that is not appropriate for her age.
5.Does she have to participate in the bridal shower and bachelorette party?
She may not be able to contribute to the bridal shower or bachelorette party (as she obviously won’t have the finances for the same). Nevertheless, she can be part of the planning, help with setting it up and even with the clean-up afterwards. If you have a wild girl’s night out planned for your bachelorette party, she wouldn’t be of legal age to participate in it. So steer clear of inviting her. If it’s an appropriate event for her to participate in, welcome her in. Remember that this would also depend on whether she is comfortable with the rest of the bridal party. So, use discretion and take your stand.
6.How can she help with the wedding planning?
You may have a brilliant helper who is eager to do all she can to make your life easy, or your junior bridesmaid may be a fussy and emotional little girl who is yet to grow up and act her age. Depending on how the situation is, you can decide how involved she should be in the wedding planning. A junior bridesmaid’s main role is to be part of the wedding procession, and so anything beyond that is up to you to decide. If she is interested in helping and hosting the bridal shower, you can ask the rest of your wedding party to include her in it. You can also have her on your list to run errands, help with setting up wedding favors, purchasing the things needed for your wedding or even accompanying you to your shopping or dress alteration sessions. Young girls are usually eager to help with the tasks that others may find boring. For example, she may be the right person to help you assemble your wedding favors or to stick your wedding invitations. So, give her the responsibility to handle this task, and she will appreciate being asked for her help with the wedding.
7.Is there a pre-wedding function that she should be involved in?
Like we said earlier, it isn’t necessary for your junior bridesmaid to attend your bridal shower or bachelorette party. However, she should be invited to the rehearsal dinner, since she is very much a part of the wedding day ceremony. This will help you prepare her for her role on the wedding day. Since you will be having a rehearsal of what will happen on the wedding day, at the rehearsal, make sure she is there for it and understands her role well.
8.Does she need an escort when she walks down the aisle, and is there anything to take care of if she has one?
No! Your junior bridesmaid doesn’t need an escort for when she walks down the aisle. Unless you have an extra groomsman who can accompany her, it isn’t necessary to find someone to join her. She can walk all by herself and precede the rest of the bridesmaids in the processional, or else you can pair her up with another bridesmaid. Of course, there is nothing wrong in pairing her with an escort, if you have a suitable person for the task. The other interesting option is to have her and another bridesmaid accompany a groomsman on either side. This is not commonly seen, and so will be an interesting addition. When planning whether she should be escorted down the aisle, you can simply think of how the pairing will look. If it will be cute, it is alright. If it looks off or you are worried it may not be suitable to pair her off with someone who is several years older than her, let her walk down the aisle herself and enjoy those two minutes when all eyes are on her. The other option is to have her stand in the receiving line, if that is the best thing for her.
9.What is her role on the wedding day?
Apart from being part of the processional, she really has no other particular responsibilities to handle on the wedding day. If your junior bridesmaid is eager to participate and would love to help, you can always handle her responsibilities that she is capable of handling. She can be involved in helping the guests be seated, giving out programs or can help handle the gifts you receive at the reception. She can also be in-charge of handing out little bags with confetti or bubbles that will be used when the couple make their exit. Basically, this depends on the attitude and personality of the girl. If she would rather enjoy the party and mind her own business, let her be. Although she is a junior bridesmaid, don’t expect the same from her as you would with your other bridesmaids.
Like the rest of your bridesmaids, your junior bridesmaids also deserve a small gift as a token of appreciation for their involvement in your wedding. Since they are much younger than the rest of the group, it may not be a good idea to get them the same gift as the rest of the girls. Even when you have more than one junior bridesmaid, it is good to get them individual gifts that match their personalities. Go with their age and their taste, and you are bound to find something they will appreciate. Set a budget and shop like you would for their birthday. You can always customize your gift with a monogram or in the theme colors of your wedding, if you prefer. Or, if you are in doubt, it is best to consult their parents and find out what would be an ideal gift. For older girls, you can even gift a voucher to their favorite store, so they can pick whatever they like. Generic gift suggestions that usually work include personalized jewelry like necklaces with a pendant matching the letter of their name or small monogrammed tote bags with a small extra like a bridal Barbie doll inside.
You now have all the necessary information you need to know about having junior bridesmaids in your wedding party. To choose the fantastic dress for these young girls, so they are a beautiful addition to your wedding party, visit our bridesmaids dress collection at Best for Bride. All the dresses featured above belong to this collection, and you can find even more fantastic dresses for your favorite young girls. Pick both your junior bridesmaids dresses and the rest of the attire for your wedding party from our fabulous bridal party collection and find the best deals possible.
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