The night before the wedding, a rehearsal dinner (in the American tradition) is usually held after the wedding rehearsal. The guests usually include the couple, the wedding party, and the parents. It may include the out-of-town guests, too, or really anyone.
The purpose of this gathering is for all of the relatives and friends of the bride and groom to meet each other and have a good time. Often the bride’s family has never met the groom’s family until the rehearsal dinner. The groom’s family is responsible for this dinner party. Sometimes the groom’s family takes this opportunity to show the world that they have more money or better taste than the bride’s family! In fact, sometimes the rehearsal dinner is bigger and better than the wedding reception! The bride and groom usually give their bridesmaids and groomsmen a very nice gift.
Activities generally include toasting or roasting. One of the best toasts I have ever heard went like this, “Every man has three women in his life…..the one he loves….the one who loves him….and the one he marries. Let’s raise our glasses for all three….this bride tonight! Cheers!”
I can remember the rehearsal dinner for one of Ross Perot’s daughter in Dallas. Ross kept standing up wanting to give his toast. Everybody kept interrupting him. Finally, his daughter told him to please be quiet until all the rest of the guests had finished! Not too many people have ever told Ross Perot to stop talking!
At St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio I was photographing a large wedding with all the bells and whistles. There were about 400 guests and a large wedding party.
The worried looking Minister came up to me as I was taking pictures right before the bride walked down the aisle and said, “Aren’t you a licensed lay reader?” I said that I was. Then he said, “After the bride goes down the aisle, please put on a choir robe and help me serve communion. My assistant did not show up.” I said that would be no problem.
So, after I took the photo of the bride and her father walking down the aisle, I put my camera down and went around to the altar area and put on a choir robe. The ceremony went on and then it was time for communion. The Minister gave the bread and I gave the wine to the wedding party and all of the guests. Then I changed my outfit and went back and got my camera. I took their photo as they walked out and gave each other a hug.
The bridal party and family then went back up to the altar area for their formal photos. After everything was finished and we were leaving for the reception, the bride looked at me and said, “Didn’t I see you somewhere during the ceremony?” I said, “I don’t know.” The bride said, “I could have sworn I saw you giving me wine.” I said, “Really? Maybe you are just in love and having hallucinations.”
I always take photos of the groom and groomsmen first, so that they can go to work greeting guests and ushering. Sometimes the men come to the wedding already dressed and all they need is their boutonnieres pinned on. After we finish with the men, we go to see the bride and her bridesmaids. They are usually having their hair fixed and talking a lot.
The ladies were ready. The bride’s father was there with his daughter. The bridesmaids went out and lined up. The bride and her father went out and got in line. The groom usually comes out with the Minister and the groomsmen. They had not come out. I was asked to please go check on them. They weren’t there! The Minister came in and said, “Where are all the men?” I said the sextant told me all the men had left in their cars.
Many phone calls were made. The men could not be found. This was before cell phones! Finally, the Minister went out in front of the guests and said there would be no wedding. The groom had disappeared. This was about 20 years ago.
Almost the same thing happened last Friday night. The groom did not show up at the rehearsal. He would not answer his cell phone. He sent a text message to the bride saying that he thought they would be better off not being married. The Minister texted him and asked for a meeting. He did not reply. I don’t understand texts…that’s not communicating! All of the venders had been paid. Refunds? Don’t count on it!
So, how can you prevent this sort of thing from happening at your wedding? You can’t. A man can be crazy when it comes to making a commitment. I think a man gets cold feet right before a wedding. Some feet are colder than others! I have heard it said, “You never know what real happiness is until you are married…..and then it is too late.”