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The Before and After Parties

You know that big dinner-dance you're throwing for 200 friends and family? That's merely the main event. First, there's the rehearsal dinner, which is traditionally hosted by the groom's parents (or the bride's parents, or the couple themselves, depending on who's got the dough).

The guest list should include members of the wedding party plus spouses or partners, all out-of-town guests, and the bride and groom's close family members. "A lot of couples opt to have an intimate sit-down dinner for just the wedding party and close family, and then invite everyone else to a dessert gathering or cocktail party afterward," points out New York wedding planner Marcy Blum.

And the partying doesn't stop after the I do's. Though not as de rigueur as they once were, post-wedding breakfasts are often planned as something nice for the out-of-town guest to do before returning home, says etiquette maven Letitia Baldrige. "The breakfast can be thrown by grandparents, an aunt and uncle, or godparents," she explains, and it can be as formal as a hotel buffet, or as casual as a barbecue/pool party. Whoever throws the pre- or post-wedding bash, one rule remains firm: Never try to outshine the actual wedding.

From the Spring 2005 New York Wedding Guide

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