Whoa, whoa, whoa. Not so fast! Did you forget the all-important rehearsal dinner? More food! More drinks! More reasons to small talk!
This event is the warm up to the day. The junior varsity version of the big game. Rehearsal dinners tend to be less formal than the actual wedding (unless there is a bit of one-upmanship between the parents of the betrothed; not a terrible quandary as it pretty much guarantees some juicy drama and an extremely nice dinner). But beware! A more casual setting can feel a little too comfortable, especially when emotions and bar tabs are running at full tilt. Let’s rehearse the rehearsal dinner.
Four Small Talk Tips for the Rehearsal Dinner Guest:
- Meet and Greet
Make a point of searching out the bride and groom to say hello. Even if they are surrounded by others, it’s important that they see you have arrived, especially if you are an out-of-town guest or a member of the wedding party. In crowded rooms, the soon-to-be-marrieds are often wondering if certain guests are present and may hold off on starting dinner for fear of leaving someone out. If the couple is occupied with other visitors, a quick wave and a smile will suffice.
- Reach Out
The Four Tops said it with style in their song, “Reach Out I’ll Be There.” The line, “you’re drifting out all on your own, and you need a hand to hold” could be the tagline for The Fine Art of Small Talk. While the rehearsal dinner guest list is chock full of friends and family, many folks represent the out-of-town contingency and oftentimes they are the people sitting alone without a hand to hold, for lack of a better term. Use your small talk skills, and use them wisely: “How do you know the bride and groom?” or “What’s your favorite wedding story?” are simple ways to jumpstart a conversation.
- Time for Toast?
Wondering if you should make a toast at the rehearsal dinner? In times of question, I still defer to the one and only Emily Post who believed the evening’s host (typically the groom’s father) should make the first toast during the main course. Nobody else is “required” to make a toast, though sometimes the best man, maid of honor, bride’s father, bride, groom, groom’s ex-girlfriend, the limo driver from the bachelor party, and the creepy second cousin seem to think it is open mic night. Whatever you decide, keep it short and keep it clean or keep it to yourself.
- Please, Say Thank You
Identify the evening’s host and thank them for including you in the celebration. Remember that times have changed and step-parents and grandparents may have played a role in the festivities. Consider how you would communicate to someone who hosted you for dinner in their home – and then do exactly that. “Dinner was lovely. Thank you so much for such a wonderful evening; I look forward to seeing you tomorrow at the wedding. Goodnight.”
Now go home and get some rest; you’ve got a wedding in the morning.