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This is the big kick-off to an exciting year, although it's completely optional. Keeping it informal and celebratory is totally appropriate, but make sure to toast to the year ahead with some delicious bubbly!
- Hosted By: Bride's parents (tradition), or the wedding party
- Guest List: Close friends an relatives
- Notes: Although traditionally the Bride's parents throw this party, the groom's parents are welcome to throw a separate fete or join in and co-plan the event.
This is traditionally a party for the bride and her closest female relatives and friends, where she's "showered" with love, well-wishes, and gifts.
- Hosted By: A close relative or the bridal party
- Guest List: The bride's side of the guest list (ladies only)
- Notes: It's a bit of a faux-pas for the bride's parents to throw a bridal shower as it may suggest that they are "asking" for gifts. Let someone else plan this one!
This is meant to be a night on the town for the soon-to-be-newleyweds, but it's usually the bridal party that has the most fun.
- Hosted By: Maid of Honor/Best Man
- Guest List: Bridal party and close friends of the bride and groom
- Notes: Choose a date and share your "no way" list (things you absolutely don't want to do) with your wedding party. Then let them handle the rest while you focus on the wedding plans- they'll have fun taking the reigns.
After you practice walking down the aisle, a rehearsal dinner is a great way to kick back and celebrate the start of the wedding weekend with your bridal party and close family members.
- Hosted By: Groom's parents
- Guest List: Wedding party, immediate family
- Notes: If you're having a destination wedding or are inviting several out-of-town guests, it's appropriate to either invite them to the rehearsal dinner or host a "welcome party" the night before the wedding. Make sure their weekend is as memorable as yours!
It's a nice gesture for the bride to treat her bridal party to a lunch or brunch in the days leading up to the big event. It's a nice way to say thank you and to acknowledge how important they are to you.
- Hosted By: Bride
- Guest List: Bridal party
- Notes: Grooms can thank their friends too- a round of golf or an early morning fishing trip with a cooler of beer can be the perfect way for the men to bond while the ladies are enjoying their lunch.
Your reception may have your partying late into the night, but if not, an after-party is a great way to extend the wedding day.
- Hosted By: Bride and Groom
- Guest List: All wedding guests
- Notes: Official invitations aren't necessary for this casual affair. Post details on your wedding website or have the wedding party casually spread the word. If you feel that something more official is necessary, you can have details printed on small enclosure cards to include with your wedding invitation.
At the end of the weekend, brunch can be a great way to wind-down and say your goodbyes. It's completely optional, but often if you've acquired a block of rooms at a hotel, they'll provide you with a ballroom and an option for a catered breakfast.
- Hosted By: Bride's parents
- Guest List: All wedding guests
- Notes: It's a nice gesture for the bride and groom to pick up the tab for this one. If you decide to forego brunch (my preference, since I am averse to any buffet-style breakfast options), it's a nice gesture to point your guests in the way of breakfast the next morning. Give them a map of the best bloody mary's in town, or show them the way to delicious pancakes at your favorite local diner- they'll probably enjoy exploring your city!