Traditionally, the groom's family hosts the rehearsal dinner. However, it is becoming increasingly common for the happy couple or their combined families to host the event.
The rehearsal dinner takes place immediately following the rehearsal. Ask your wedding planner or officiate how long the rehearsal will take so you will know when to book a reservation, if needed.
At the minimum, the wedding party and your immediate families should be invited. Be certain that everyone attending the rehearsal is invited to the rehearsal dinner. For a destination wedding, or one in which many guests will be traveling, consider inviting all your out-of-town guests.
For a large party, send out written invitations. These could match your wedding stationery for a unified feeling, but it's not necessary. For a small, informal affair, word of mouth or an e-vite works just fine.
A local restaurant is a traditional place to hold the rehearsal dinner. Be sure to call in advance and request a private room. Or consider a relaxed location -- a pizza parlor, bowling alley, fun barbeque joint, or family member's backyard.
Often, your parents, friends, or members of the wedding party will offer a toast. It is polite to rise and say thank you. It is also nice to offer a toast to all in attendance, to thank them for their love and support and express your excitement for the next day.
The rehearsal dinner is the appropriate time to hand out wedding party gifts, if you have them. This is a thoughtful gesture, and because the gifts are often meant to be used on the wedding day, the night before is the perfect time to give them. A growing trend at rehearsal dinners is to play a slideshow of pictures of the couple reflecting their childhoods and time together.