An affordable, enjoyable rehearsal dinner

My Story: Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

contributed by Susan S.

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Thank you for such a "freeing" article on the topic of the infamous wedding rehearsal dinner, and the financial stress it can bring to parents trying to help their kids have a wonderful wedding, while staying on a budget. I wholeheartedly agree that there is no need to spend hundreds of dollars on the rehearsal dinner. To start with, I think it is important to stop and think about the purpose of this dinner.

After months of planning, decision-making, and non-stop chatter (drama) about all the details of the wedding, the rehearsal dinner is simply one last opportunity for the wedding party and those closest to the bride and groom to share a meal together before the couple starts a new life together. It also allows both sets of family to be introduced and spend a little time together getting to know one another.

So where did this idea of having to rent a hall or reserve a restaurant begin anyway? And exactly who started this deal of feeling like it has to be in an expensive country club? Why do we let "them" set the standards when "we" are paying the bill? Who are we trying to please here anyway?

I know of one wedding party who just wanted a simple, fun dinner, so they had their rehearsal dinner in the parents' backyard in the early evening as the sun was cooling down. They did their own barbecuing with favorite side dishes, and they made ice cream sundaes for dessert. The evening was beautiful. The music was playing. While relaxing in lawn chairs, everyone talked and visited. In a word, they had fun! No one had to spend money on another outfit. There was no hall to rent out. Tired little toddlers didn't have to sit still and behave in a fancy restaurant, and there was no huge gratuity for a party of 12 or more.

For others without a backyard or in winter weather, what's wrong with pulling all the furniture out of the family room and borrowing a few tables to make a banquet area? Just add tablecloths, flowers, candlelight, and music and serve a huge spaghetti dinner with all the trimmings. Find CDs of Italian love songs. Your guests will love it, and it's budget friendly. It's all about feeling loved, wanted, cared for, and prepared for.

I have read that being cheap means not paying for anything and not doing anything while being frugal means doing the absolute most you can with what you have without wasting anything. I am very happy to see Americans getting back to the basics and thinking twice about pulling their hard-earned savings out of the bank or racking up harmful credit debt just because it is "wedding tradition."

Weddings are about two people in love. They are not about how much money is spent and certainly not about trying to impress people.

Thanks again for an article that will free people to think outside the box without feeling embarrassed to do so.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it to

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