Do Grandparents Come To the Rehearsal Dinner?

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Getting married is a really exciting time – especially for the couple. If either of them is your granddaughter or grandson, then it’s an especially exciting time. 

rehearsal dinner

You’ve watched them grow up and you saw as they met the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with. So it makes sense that this is a time you want to be involved in. You want to be up close and not just in the background. 

But should the grandparents be?

Sometimes there are questions about who all should be involved in what and when different family members should step in. 

One of the big events at a wedding is the rehearsal dinner, and who should be included in the rehearsal dinner. 

The answer to who should be invited to the rehearsal dinner is: it’s up to the couple. 

What Is a Rehearsal Dinner?

If you haven’t been involved in a lot of weddings, or perhaps weddings from another culture, a rehearsal dinner is the dinner that’s held after the rehearsal the day before the wedding.

Typically there is a rehearsal so that everyone who is involved in the wedding can come together and do a run through of the events that are going to take place the next day. 

After the rehearsal, most of the time the families and those involved in the wedding will attend a dinner together. It can be at a restaurant, although sometimes a family member will host it at their home – depending on the set up of the wedding and the location. 

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Options for a Rehearsal Dinner

There are many options for couples and their rehearsal dinner, and it is usually in line with the feeling of their wedding. 

If their wedding is going to be small and intimate, then chances are all the events surrounding the wedding are going to be the same. 

If the couple only wants to have close immediate family and their bridal party, then grandparents may not be invited to the dinner. 

On the other hand, if it’s more of a casual event where it’s finger foods and not a plated dinner then there may be more people invited to the dinner. 


There aren’t really any rules about the rehearsal dinner. In fact, many couples are opting not to have one and just everyone go out after and enjoy themselves. 

For couples who are budget conscious or may not have the funds to do so, the rehearsal dinner is often an easy item to cut from the list to save on some cost. 

In some more traditional families, the parents of the couple may decide that they want to pay for it so help ease the cost of the wedding. 

Out-Of-Town Guests

If the couple decides to have a rehearsal dinner, one of the exceptions that is usually made is that guests who have travelled to come to the wedding will be included in the rehearsal dinner. 

This is a nice way to say thank you for making the trip and coming to the wedding. 

If the couple has a destination wedding, where all of the guests are technically from out of town, then this won’t really matter anymore. This rule was traditionally for couples who are getting married close to home and some guests needed to travel to come. 

The Officiant

Depending on how the couple is getting married (religiously or a civil union), there will be a different type of officiant marrying them. 

It’s tradition that the officiant is invited to the rehearsal dinner (if you’re having one). This is a way of showing them a little more about your family, in a relaxed setting and thanking them for marrying you. 

If the couple doesn’t have a rehearsal dinner, then they may just be involved in the rehearsal and the wedding part. It’s really up to the couple how much they want their officiant to be involved in the events that are surrounding the wedding. 

What’s the Point of the Rehearsal Dinner?

Traditionally, this dinner has been a chance for the two sides of the family to get to know each other and spend some time together before the wedding. 

It’s also a chance for those who are in the wedding party to get to know the two families, and everyone enjoy the night before the big day. 

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It Should Be About the Couple

When it comes down to it, it’s really up to the couple who they want to invite to the rehearsal dinner. 

If the couple is particularly close with their grandparents or specific members of the family, they can invite whoever they want to join the rehearsal dinner. 

If you want to have more people at the rehearsal so you can be surrounded by those you love most, make the dinner a causal affair and everyone can mingle and chat as they want to. 

newly wed

This wedding is about merging the two people as a couple, but it’s also about merging two families together. 

So those people that the couple loves most should be included in the rehearsal dinner, and that’s how it should work. 

Cultural Traditions

This wedding may be a blending of two very different cultures, and some of the cultural traditions may be new to you and take some getting used to. 

The new culture may have something different that they do for the rehearsal dinner (or even the ceremony) so there may be a few things that are out of the control of each side of the family. 

The couple will (probably) do their best to blend the two cultures together, and choose the parts that make the most sense and are the most important to the couple, and the family. 

Knowing this, the rehearsal dinner may be a little different than what each side of the family is expecting. 

If this happens, try your best to be open to the new traditions being brought in and the experiences of this culture.

What is the etiquette for how long the rehearsal dinner should go on for?

The rehearsal dinner is the night before a really big day – for everyone. The rehearsal dinner doesn’t have to go on for too long. Just a dinner (either seated or casual foods) and then everyone can mingle or leave as they wish.

For people who have traveled to be at the wedding, they may be a little extra tired and want to make sure they are ready for the big day coming. 

It’s important to make sure that your guests do not enjoy too many drinks the night before so they are prepared for the next day and they are not hung over. 

For this reason, you may wish to only have a certain amount of drinks available to your guests so that they don’t over indulge. 

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Can Grandparents Pay For the Rehearsal Dinner?

Traditionally, the groom’s family will be the one who pays for the rehearsal dinner. However, since many weddings today don’t necessarily follow tradition it could be paid for by anyone, really. 

family at a wedding

If you want to help your grandchild a little bit and alleviate the costs of having a wedding then you can offer to pay for the rehearsal dinner if you want to.

This could be your gift to them, if you want. You’ve watched your grandchild grow up and it’s such an exciting time for them, so you want to help them out as much as you can and make it a little easier for them to pay for the wedding. 

In Summary

Weddings have changed so much over the last couple decades that there really aren’t any rules anymore. 

Couples are doing their own thing and making the wedding events and ceremony to be exactly what they want. 

There are many couples who do not want to have a big wedding as they are meeting when they’re a little older so they’d rather spend the money on buying a house or traveling. 

Since things are being done a little different, don’t be surprised if they don’t have a rehearsal dinner or even a big wedding. This doesn’t mean they love their families any less, they are just doing what works for them. 

If your grandchild is not having a traditional wedding, in the sense that you would expect, you can still travel to spend some time with them before or after the event. 

If they are eloping they may choose to have a big party afterwards to celebrate with the people they love. 

Be prepared for whatever the couple wants for themselves, and try not to see it as a reflection of you or what you may have wanted for them. 

If you are close to your grandchild, they will probably talk to you and include you in parts of the planning. It’s a really exciting time for everyone, but it’s also a lot of work. 

Try to let your grandchild know that you are there for them, if they need any help, but let them try to do things on their own and try not to explain how you would have done things when you got married. 

In the end, this is a really exciting time for your grandchild! Try to celebrate with them.