In addition to the bride and groom, a traditional wedding rehearsal dinner typically includes their immediate families -- parents, brothers, sisters -- and members of the wedding party. Spouses or significant others of bridesmaids, ushers and groomsmen are invited. The parents of child attendants are asked to join, although the children themselves are not always part of the festivities. The officiant and his or her escort typically attend as well.
If out-of-towners have already arrived for the next day's ceremony, some couples invite these guests to the rehearsal dinner. In this way, they are not left to fend for themselves in an unfamiliar location.
It is conventional for the groom's family to host the rehearsal dinner. However, for many contemporary weddings, the expense is shared between the two families, or the bride and groom pay for the party themselves.
Formal invitations are sent for a rehearsal dinner if it is held at an expensive or exclusive location, such as a hotel banquet room, country club or elegant restaurant. An RSVP card is needed so the caterer knows the number in the party. However, if a more intimate or less elaborate dinner is planned, phone calls, simple cards or online invitations are appropriate. It is best to let people know about the rehearsal dinner soon after the wedding invitations are issued so they are able to plan for the additional day.