The rehearsal dinner is a dinner party held the night before the wedding. Usually it occurs after the wedding party has gathered, in order to have a practice run at the ceremony location. Like the wedding and everything else involved, the bride and groom have full creative liability for the rehearsal dinner. Traditionally it's hosted by the groom's parents, but nowadays anyone can host. It can be an intimate dinner at home or a big bash at a restaurant. For my ideas on the rehearsal dinner,

Invites: The guestlist should definitely include all of the people in the wedding party, family members, and intimate friends. If you are having a small dinner call or send an email instead of sending invitations. If you want a lot of people to come, send a small note with the standard wedding invitation providing the time and location of the dinner. If you have a small destination wedding, consider inviting all of the guests to the rehearsal dinner. Also if many out of town guests will be attending the wedding, think about inviting them to it as well.

Menu: Choose a menu depending on your location, theme, and style of your wedding. If your wedding is super formal, a casual dinner is a good idea. You could have a big barbeque grilled by dad in the backyard, a hot dog party at a rented box at your local ballpark, a Mediterranean feast at a back room of the place where you had your first date, or a wine, cheese, and tapas at the garden of a nearby winery. Having the dinner at a restaurant is an excellent choice because you can leave the food, drinks, and flowers up to the waitstaff. To cut costs, serve appetizers, cocktails, and desserts instead of a full service sit down meal.

Drinks: Offer guests wine, beer, and champagne, but not a full open bar. It's customary for informal toasts to be given at the rehearsal dinner, so get enough champagne to go around. The atmosphere is much more relaxed than the wedding so allowing anyone who wants to stand up and say a few, quick words is fun for you and the guests. Give guests plenty of time to mingle during the cocktail hour because this may be the first time that new family members are meeting.

The Look: It's not necessary to go over the top with elaborate decorations - save those for the wedding! Simple yet stylish floral arrangements, glowing votive candles floating in water, white linen tablecloths, etc. Think chic, elegant, timeless, classic.

Music: A band or DJ is great for the wedding but too much at the rehearsal dinner, so put together a playlist of you and your fiance's favorite songs. Current hits and old favorites so there is a little something for everyone.

What was your rehearsal dinner like? Please share your inspirations and experiences with us below!