The Rehearsal Dinner Too?

Date #7 wants me to go to the rehearsal dinner for his brother’s wedding.  Under ordinary circumstances, this would be cause for celebration: a man I met on the internet wants me to meet his parents!

I have never, in the entire history of my Great Date Experiment, reached the point of being introduced to anybody’s parents (well, aside from the time that the Bovary Reading Bachelor’s neighbors “accidentally” dropped by during our first and last date…) and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t flattered.

But these are not ordinary circumstances.

Oh no.

You see, Date #7 and I don’t actually get along all that well.  We’re great on paper, and we both agree that we have great “potential,” but working well on paper is different than working well in real life and potential doesn’t supersede the present.  If our brief history is of any indication, the more time I spend with him, the greater the likelihood that I’ll end up pissed off and I don’t want to be pissed off at the wedding; I want to be happy. 

I mean, his brother is getting married for crying out loud!  I want us to enjoy ourselves, without the usual melodrama and histrionics that have come to characterize our interactions, and the only way to ensure that this actually happens is to either A) drink myself silly before the ceremony or B) avoid spending too much time with Date #7 before the big day.

Option A is off the table because I’ve insisted on driving myself to and from the wedding and Option B—well, if that’s not the indicator of an entirely healthy relationship, I don’t know what is.

Besides, I have issues with rehearsal dinners and wedding parties in general.  I’ve never been in a wedding.  Ever.  And the one and only time I was invited to a rehearsal dinner was when my cousin got married ten years ago.  Being only sixteen at the time and not particularly close to any of my already-married-cousins, I felt so out of place that I volunteered to go home to my aunt’s house and babysit the bride’s nephews instead.

Nonetheless, I’ve always been a bit curious about rehearsal dinners.  And wedding parties.  And what it would feel like to go to a wedding without sitting out all of the slow songs…

So I’ve accepted his invitation (and am now praying that I don’t end up a weeping, disgruntled mess huddled in the corner somewhere and gnawing on my own carefully painted fingernails…).

In the meantime, please share your rehearsal dinner success/horror stories so I’ll know what to expect.

21 Responses to “The Rehearsal Dinner Too?”

  1. jlillymoon

    Rehearsal dinners are boring if you aren’t in the wedding party and a bunch of last minute instructions if you are. Best thing I can suggest is to have a nice glass of wine, sit back and think of it as nothing more than a free meal. It’s very strange…. at least in my opinion to be invited to the dinner. It’s usually just the bridal party and family. Especially out of town family.
    My rehearsal dinner was a blast, but I married into a big Irish family (hence LOTS of drinking) and we went a resturant that we went to all the time…. spent more time behind the bar in that place…. another time.
    Keep an open mind. Drive yourself. If you get bored, you can always leave sighting that you need your beauty sleep or that you had a long day at work.
    Now…. who’s wedding did you babysit for?

    Reply
  2. Katie

    Rehearsal dinners are my favorite part of a wedding. In fact, the wedding I attended a couple of weeks ago was the first during my adult life where I wasn’t a part of the wedding party. (For some reason I felt the bride wouldn’t entirely appreciate it if I accepted the invitation to attend as the groom’s best man, so I left that honor to his father.)

    Anyway, the only part I really missed about not being part of the bridal party was the rehearsal dinner. It’s the part where everyone can be themselves — just close friends and family in an intimate and relaxed setting. There’s still a celebratory atmosphere, but to me it feels more meaningful, somehow. Less pomp and circumstance.

    That said, I have a feeling that for you it will be just the opposite — at least in this situation. The rehearsal dinner is comfortable and intimate. If you are neither with your date, then I’m afraid the whole thing might just be really awkward. At least at a wedding you can distract yourself with dancing and all of the other random dates/strangers who don’t really know anyone else, but at the rehearsal dinner there’s nowhere to hide if things get sour. So if this is where you’re giving #7 a second — no third — no fourth?? chance, I hope he’s done a 180 and is actually interested in… I don’t know… maybe showing his date a good time.

    Reply
  3. Brazilian

    It may be my biased opinion, but my daughter’s rehearsal dinner was the best I’ve been to so far.
    She and her groom presented us and his parents with a framed personalized letter of appreciation for hosting the bridal shower and rehearsal dinner (it was held in our back-yard under a large tent) and for handling the wedding party. Everyone was very friendly and we all had a great time.

    Reply
  4. charlsiekate

    I’ve been to a lot, and in, a lot of weddings. I was invited to 24 weddings in 2007 alone (I think I made it to 13 of them). In May/June of 2009 I was a bridesmaid in four weddings in six weeks. I have been to rehearsal dinners where I was in the wedding, and a few where I was not. I recommend alcohol for rehearsal dinners, and I wouldn’t freak out, because in all honesty, everyone there will have so much going on they might not even notice you. The alcohol is to keep from stabbing yourself in the eye with your fork during painfully long toasts. The main thing to remember with his parents is that the rehearsal dinner is THEIR party. And, depending on what kind of people his mother and father are, this could be a very key point. This is their chance to show off, and you are their guest for the night, not the bride and groom’s guest.
    In my opinion, going to the rehearsal dinner with this guy is doing him a huge, enormous favor. My brother got married about a year ago, and going to the rehearsal dinner alone was really not an option for me. You will keep his family from giving him a hard time about being single, and be forced to listen to stories and jokes about people you do not know and might never see again. He will OWE you, big time. He won’t so much need you at the wedding, he’ll be busy. However, at the rehearsal dinner, not only will you be keeping the tables even, you will keep him from looking lonely AND make him look good by being beautiful and sparkly and engaging. His extended family and new inlaws will walk away and say, man, there must be more to that guy that we thought if he’s with a girl like that! Your reward for this will be answering awkward questions about the status of your relationship, how you met, when you plan on getting married, and how many children you will have together. Be ready for it, wine is the only solution.
    Rehearsal dinners can be hit or miss. I have two rehearsal dinner philosophies, A) everyone who is invited to the wedding should be invited to the rehearsal dinner (this works best for destination weddings) and the rehearsal dinner should be a time for the guests to see the bride and groom and family in a more low key setting. In the South, these rehearsal dinners usually involve oysters and chili and low country boil, or fried chicken and mac and cheese and collards, with a blue grass band and craft beers. These are my favorite rehearsal dinners. No one gives you a hard time for getting another drink, you have less of a chance of feeling trapped, and seriously, who doesn’t love a good oyster roast and fried chicken?
    The second rehearsal dinner I can approve of involves the wedding party, and the bride and groom’s close extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins. STOP.) This option can be more formal, and there is less worry about people feeling trapped, because it is family, and they love you and are happy to hear the story about how you broke your arm in 3rd grade, because they were there. The upside to this option is it gives the bride and groom the opportunity to visit with family and for their family to meet their closest friends, and helps prevent the bride from being captured by her Aunt Mildred for half an hour at the reception.
    What I cannot get behind, is the formal, sit down, served dinner with the bridal party and half the people invited to the wedding at the rehearsal dinner. Here is how this scenario goes if you are not in the wedding or the date of someone in the wedding. After an awkward cocktail hour, you sit down at a table of people you don’t know, but who possibly all know each other, and hope they continue to bring you wine. Then you wait patiently, trying to make friends across the round table, for your food. This is the point where you should start hording alcohol, if you haven’t already begun to do this.
    Don’t be worried if you have four different flavors of wine and beer in front of you. Because, once dinner is over and the speeches start, MOST servers will stop serving. It is completely unclear to me why this happens, but country clubs, dinner clubs, caterers, it doesn’t matter, the servers are instructed to stop serving once they have poured you three sips of champagne and the speeches start. I was at a rehearsal dinner once, the bride had three siblings, who were all married, and each sibling and their spouses gave their own toast. Her brother in law gave an instructive slideshow that lasted half an hour, her brother sang a song. Very thoughtful, very personal, but after two hours, the siblings were the only people to have spoken, and we had been out of water and wine for a good hour. It was another hour and a half before we were able to leave. I was not in this wedding.
    Rehearsal dinner speeches are like reading a heartfelt note that wasn’t written to you. If written to someone you love and care about, you could be interested in reading it. If the writer is especially gifted and eloquent, you could be interested in reading it, even if you don’t know the person. But, if you don’t know the person, and the writer is not especially gifted or eloquent, you will quickly tire and lose interest. This last scenario is the most likely.
    Remember, you are doing him a favor. Have fun with that.

    Reply
    • Kat Richter

      Wow! Who knew a post about rehearsal dinners would inspire so many comments! And fascinating comments at that… I especially loved “Be ready for it, wine is the only solution,” and “This is the point where you should start hording alcohol, if you haven’t already begun to do this.” Maybe I’ll bring a flask– lol! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

      Reply
  5. The Edmonton Tourist

    Lower your expectations so you won’t be weeping. I suspect you are hoping for something from this guy that’s never going happen. Accept it, eat the free meal, enjoy getting dressed up, and charm the pants off his family. Then go home when it gets boring, usually around dessert.

    Reply
    • Kat Richter

      Right: Low expectations, charm the pants… low expectations, charm the pants… low expectations, charm the pants– this my new mantra!

      Reply
  6. Philly Tap Teaser

    The first rehearsal dinner I ever attended was my own, so I had no idea how to run one. I guess I did everything ‘wrong.’ I didn’t know you had to present the bridal party gifts during the dinner, so I left them at home. I didn’t know that a heartfelt speech to both sets of parents was a customary thing, so I didn’t prepare anything. There were very few of us anyway – just the 4 bridesmaids, not all of the groomsmen, my mom and dad, Dale’s mom, and my brother. We had the dinner at a casual Austrian restaurant up the road from the church where we all sat at round tables in and among the other customers there that evening. We basically just ate and went our separate ways. My brother’s rehearsal dinner was much nicer, much bigger, more traditional. The dinner was fancy, invited a lot of additional family, and the speeches were lovely. But, then and now, I never much cared for the rules attached to wedding events. I detest unnecessary formality.

    Reply
  7. Jenny Rebecca Winters

    I also attended my own rehearsal dinner, at my first marriage, over 12 years ago. It took a lot of nervousness off me and I was able to spend the time with precious family members. I remember it more than my wedding.

    That having been said, Kat, I know how you feel about #7. You really don’t like him. Why be his ornament, just to make him look good? It seems that you are uncomfortable with the whole scenario, so if I were you I’d just sit this one out. Prepare a virus to explode the day of the wedding, I dunno.

    THAT having been said, at my second marriage 4 months ago, there was no rehearsal dinner. It was just 2 people who love each other so much, and the people that mattered, at the ceremony and reception. My Man-of-Honor was Josh Loomis, in fact! 🙂 He and I went out the night before to a sushi buffet and shot the shit, and it was great.

    So my theory is, who gives a f*k about rehearsal dinners. Sit this one out, avoid the nervousness, avoid #7. You are witty and pretty and bright…don’t let him use you for that.

    Reply
  8. Zak

    I’ll keep this short:
    “You see, Date #7 and I don’t actually get along all that well.”

    Don’t go. Cancel. Stop. Just move on.

    Just sayin…

    Reply
  9. Grey Goose, Dirty

    Free food, open bar & deep soothing breaths ….. you can do it Kat 😉
    They’re usually a lot of fun and if Date #7 starts to annoy you, just make fun of the rest of the guests as a distraction :-X

    Reply
  10. Lost in France

    I’m with Zac.

    Tell date 7 you already know how to eat dinner, so do not need a rehearsal.

    Never ever been to one myself, not sure they are so big in the UK. But if as everyone says they are more informal and personal, this really does not sound like where you want to be or should be with Date 7.

    You will then also know you have the actual wedding to get through as well.

    He is lucky you are still going to the wedding with him, why are you putting yourself through this as well?

    Reply

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