When people get engaged, I often see them ask former brides two main questions about planning:

  1. What was the best thing you did?
  2. What was your biggest regret?

I personally have a hard time answering either one, because there are so many little things that I learned in the planning process, but they are still so helpful. We actually have similar questions on our questionnaire for our couples to fill out for a blog feature because they’re broad enough that they can talk about whatever they want, but focused enough that a couple of highlights normally come out of it, so you can take the information and run with it for your own big day. (As a side note, if you’ve gotten married at The Chandelier and haven’t done your blog feature yet, click here! We’d love to show you off!!) But, no matter what the answer is to either question, there’s one big trend: it’s almost always about the wedding day.

I get it. The wedding is what everything really revolves around and it’s the biggest part of planning. But what about the day before the wedding?

My in-laws threw us a wonderful rehearsal dinner, and I’m so very thankful for all of the planning they did for it, but I really didn’t involve myself in it. Part of me felt like it wasn’t really my place to insert my own planning when they were the ones hosting, and part of me felt like it didn’t matter and I needed to just keep focusing on the big day. But I loved our rehearsal dinner. There were moments from it that were just as meaningful as moments from our wedding day and in hindsight there are things that I wished I’d paid more attention to.

So, it’s only fitting that I’m here to write a blog answering the best thing, the biggest regret, and all the lessons I learned going through it.

The Best Thing We Did

At the beginning of our rehearsal dinner, my soon-to-be hubby’s Dad stood up to give a toast, and invited everyone at the rehearsal dinner to give toasts at random throughout the night. It worked out super well for two reasons. The first, and probably most obvious, reason was the fact that we got to hear stories from our friends and family members. They toasted to our wedding, talked about our relationship, and told stories from their friendships with us. We got to hear the fake toast my best friend wrote us for her speech class freshman year. I got to hear stories about Kevin growing up that I’d never heard before. We learned what our family sees as our greatest strengths. It was truly so special to hear from so many people that are important to us. Beyond that, though, the other reason it worked really well was because it wasn’t boring. Rather than one really long speech, or multiple speeches in a row, they were broken up based on whenever someone decided to stand up and talk. They also gave our guests something to talk about, because they could laugh and discuss the stories afterwards, or talk about what they wanted to say before standing up. I have seen people recommend letting your guests know beforehand that they’ll be asked to say something, but I personally liked how informal this was, and since not everyone had to talk, it left it open without any pressure.

The Biggest Regret I Have

The speeches above? I wish more than anything that I could hear them again. We didn’t have a videographer for our rehearsal dinner, because it honestly just didn’t seem necessary, but I so wish we had one. Beyond the fact that I’d love to have captured those moments and what was said, there is something so intimate about rehearsal dinners and the excitement building up to the next day. I still don’t think professional photos are necessary, but I regret not hiring a videographer for our rehearsal dinner so I could relive that night.