Etiquette Guide: Rehearsal Dinners

Rehearsal dinner parties are a wedding tradition. Etiquette dictates that the groom’s parents should host this event, allowing the groom’s mother the opportunity to entertain wedding guests. However, more couples are paying for their own weddings or families are choosing to help share expenses. Generally speaking, whoever pays for the dinner should have the deciding factor in rehearsal dinner details.

The following outlines general rehearsal dinner etiquette, making it easy for families, friends, brides and grooms everywhere to know what is expected.

  • Invites – Close family, friends and people participating in the wedding should be invited to the rehearsal dinner. This may include bridesmaids, ushers, flower girls, groomsmen and ring bearers. However, in some cultures, it’s customary to invite everyone who is invited to the wedding to the rehearsal dinner.
  • Planning – Three to six months prior to the wedding, couples should begin planning the rehearsal dinner party.
  • Location – There is no set rehearsal dinner location. Rehearsal dinner can be held at restaurants, in private rooms, in karaoke bars or at wedding venues.
  • Dessert – Instead of serving the same dessert planned for the wedding, rehearsal dinner parties give guests the opportunity to try an assortment of sweet, sugary masterpieces. If the wedding cake is a traditional white cake with raspberry filling, opt for a decadent chocolate dessert for the rehearsal dinner.
  • Invitations – Rehearsal dinner invitations should be distributed four weeks prior to the wedding. This invitation is separate from the wedding invitation and the two should never be included together. Rehearsal dinners and weddings are two separate events and should be treated as such. Since rehearsal dinners are less formal than weddings, couples may opt to embrace their creative sides by exploring unique themes, dramatic colors or fun-filled menus.
  • Ideas – Rehearsal dinners can embrace unique themes. This is a time for couples to make an event personal. Whether it’s sharing stories, a special location, a favorite restaurant or a slideshow, this intimate gathering is perfect for close friends and family that enjoy performing or being emcees. Some couples choose to add ethnic flair to these events, serving customary foods from both backgrounds. Foodies can also embrace the rehearsal dinner as an opportunity to go all out with five-star dining. With a smaller group, these outings can be more affordable than hosting a wedding at a top-notch, swanky and trendy restaurant. Casual rehearsal dinners often include backyard barbecues, giving families an opportunity to meet one another and mingle.

Whatever type of rehearsal dinner meets couples’ fancies, having fun and enjoying friends and family is an integral journey for couples as they prepare to join their lives together.

Just Charger Plates has a wide clientele base, including party planners, caterers, restaurants and even churches. They sell a variety of traditional, contemporary and unique charger plates, including glass charger plates, faux leather charger plates and mirror charger plates.

Choose Your Own Dinner Party Adventure

Dinner parties are an imaginative adventure enjoyed by hosts and guests alike. Whether it’s throwing a themed dinner party or a culinary adventure into the unknown, there are several different types of traditional dinner parties.

  • Basic – Most dinner parties are informal. These types of dinner parties are perfect for friends, family or large gatherings. Whether it’s roasting chickens, grilling steak or sharing a big batch of New Mexico-style chili, informal dinner parties are simple. These types of parties may also involve passing dishes around a family-style table or having guests casually serving themselves from a buffet. Basic dinner parties are informal and homey. Traditionally, there are no wrong meals, but dessert usually consists of home-baked cakes, cobblers or pies. Simple dinner parties are often potluck-style, with hosts supplying entrees and asking guests to bring side dishes.
  • Fancy – Fancy dinner parties are usually reserved for special occasions, such as graduations, birthdays and anniversaries. These types of upscale dinner parties usually have defined menus that are served in formal dining areas. Dining tables are decorated with table runners or tablecloths, fine china, circle charger plates and linen napkins. These types of dinner parties often begin with cocktails and hors d’ouevres. This is then followed by seated courses, which includes soup, salad, entree, sides and dessert dishes. Wines are generally paired with each dinner course and popular entrees include prime rib, baked salmon, pork crown roast, leg of lamb, beef Wellington or glazed ham with sides of braised asparagus, new potatoes, creamed spinach or sautéed mushrooms. Desserts are generally elegant with rich flavors. Champagne is often served with desserts.
  • Formal – Formal dinner parties spare no expense and are lavish, posh events. For these types of events, hosts do not serve or prepare the food, but opt to hire caterers or professionals. After each course, the dishes are removed and wine is poured throughout the meal. The table is usually adorned with an elegant centerpiece or candles. Food is not left on the table and no dishes are passed. The meat course is carved in the kitchen and the waiter passes the course from guest to guest before returning platters to the kitchen. The dining table is neatly arranged with fine china, crystal glassware and silverware. Special spoons, forks and knives are used for each course, including soupspoons, dessertspoons and butter knives. Glassware generally includes water goblets, red wine glasses, white wine glasses and champagne flutes.

Whether it’s a basic, fancy or formal dinner party, hosts should begin planning soirees well in advance. Disorganized, frazzled hosts can make guests feel out of place or uncomfortable. Hosts should keep a calm, peaceful demeanor, which contributes to a successful dinner party.

Just Charger Plates offers charger plates for all occasions, whether it’s fancy or casual dinner parties. Their most popular charger plates include gold beaded glass charger plates, round charger plates, mirror charger plates, copper charger plates and colorful royal purple charger plates.

A Guide to Surviving a Formal Dinner Party

Formal dinner parties can be intimidating, but as long as guests know what to expect, these affairs can be fun-filled and entertaining.

To survive formal dinner parties, follow these helpful tips.

  • RSVP – Once the RSVP arrives, it’s polite to respond as soon as possible, preferably within a few days or a week after receiving the invitation. This helps make it easy for hosts to plan venue, meal and drink accommodations.
  • Dress – Dressing appropriately is a vital part of being a good formal dinner party guest. If the event is formal, then a suit and tie are likely appropriate, but if the event is casual, it’s still important to appear professional. This means leaving yoga pants at home and donning an outfit that is classy and tactful. This also shows appreciation and respect towards hosts.
  • Ask – Instead of assuming or feeling anxious, just ask hosts questions. If the attire is not stated, simply ask if the event will be formal, professional or casual. While invitations should contain all the necessary event details, if anything is not addressed, simply ask beforehand.
  • Time – It’s respectful to arrive on time to events. Keeping hosts waiting is rude and inconsiderate. However, it’s also just as important to not arrive early, as hosts are likely finishing up last-minute details.
  • Gift – Always bring a thoughtful gift, such as wine, an assorted cheese platter or a dessert. Bringing a small token shows appreciation and thoughtfulness.
  • Social – Being social is a key aspect of showing respect for hosts and guests. Don’t sit in a corner. Formal dinner parties are social affairs so consider seeking out a friend or an acquaintance. 
  • Etiquette – Basic etiquette applies at formal parties, including chewing with mouths closed, being considerate of others, not taking more food than one can eat, putting napkins in laps to avoid spills, etc.
  • Place Settings – Knowing the way around formal dinner settings is necessary for dinner parties. This includes knowing the differences between the water goblet, red wine and white wine glasses. Formal dinner settings also include a circle charger plate with a dinner plate on top and then a soup bowl. A bread and butter plate with butter spreader is placed in the 10 o’clock position of the dinner plate. The left hand side of the plate features the napkin, salad fork, dinner fork and dessert fork. The right hand side of the plate highlights the dinner knife, teaspoon and soupspoon.
  • Gratitude – Always thank hosts before leaving and say goodbye to everyone.
  • Fun – Most importantly, have fun and enjoy formal events.

Just Charger Plates offers an assortment of formal charger plates, which are perfect for campaign dinners, holidays, charity dinners or formal dinner parties. Classic formal dinner party designs and colors include gold charger plates, glass charger plates and wood charger plates.

Hosting a Valentine’s Day Dinner Party

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, nothing is more romantic than throwing a special dinner party for friends, family and loved ones. Whether it’s having a couples’ party or a mixer for singles, Valentine’s Day is a classic gift-giving holiday celebrated worldwide.

Hosting a Valentine’s Day dinner party doesn’t need to be a daunting task. By following this simple checklist, hosts will be on their ways to throwing splendid Friday night Valentine’s Day bashes.

  • Guest List – Deciding on a guest list is a critical component of hosting a party. Just because it’s traditionally a couples’ day, doesn’t mean that guests can’t go stag. Consider inviting a mix of people for a festive, special evening.
  • Invitations – Send invitations early so invitees can save the date. Consider using an electronic invitation service, such as Evite, as this allows for hosts to attach maps, highlight party details and allows guests to see who is invited. These invitations can be completed in a manner of minutes, making it easy for hosts to focus on other party-related tasks.
  • Special – To make a dinner party extra special, consider changing standard furniture plans to allow for mingling.
  • Dishes – Use formal dishes, goblets and red accents for this special day. Standard white dishes can easily be dressed up with red charger plates, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including traditional circle charger plates, contemporary square charger plates and red-rimmed glass charger plates. Dollar Stores are affordable retailers for Valentine’s Day decor.
  • Meals – Make-ahead meals are a great way for hosts to enjoy guests. Pasta is an excellent choice for Valentine’s Day, whether it’s lasagna, shrimp scampi or spaghetti. Fresh pasta elevates these dishes, making them perfect for this love-filled day. Another excellent meal option is fondue! It’s interactive and fun, making it perfect for dinner or desserts.
  • Bring Your Own – Asking guests to bring their own drinks or a light appetizer is not rude. Guests can also bring desserts, such as chocolate dipped strawberries and sweet fruits.
  • Store-Bought – Hosts shouldn’t be afraid to stray away from store-bought desserts. These are handy, especially for hosts that aren’t pastry chefs. Many bakeries design special desserts for Valentine’s Day, such as chocolate brownie tarts, red-sprinkled sugar candies, caramels, truffles and cupcakes. Desserts can also be attractive centerpieces, highlighting colorful tiered-trifle desserts, attractive dishes of chocolate mousse and mini-desserts served in shot glasses.
  • Conversation – Great food, lively company and background music helps conversation freely flow. Relax, enjoy and have fun!

Modern Party Etiquette

Long ago, women would go to school to learn formal etiquette training. In today’s more casual society, there are still several etiquette trends that are still followed. A source of confusion for most young adults, Just Charger Plates offer a glimpse into modern party etiquette.

  • Invitations – Always extend invitations with enough time for guests to plan and respond. Today, invitations can be done over the phone, via traditional paper mailings or even using digital services such as Evite. It’s thoughtful to include a GPS-friendly invite, as this makes it easier for guests to find locations. Guests should RSVP as soon as possible and if in doubt, over communication is better than casting assumptions.
  • Early – It’s important to arrive on time to a dinner party, but avoid arriving early as this can leave hosts feeling panicked.
  • Gifts – While it’s thoughtful to bring a gift to the host, avoid gifts that make the host work. This can include scrambling to find a vase for flowers or bringing over a dish that requires cooking.
  • Helping – Guests should always offer to help hosts, asking, “What can I do to help you?”
  • Alternatives – Not everyone drinks, so it’s important to make a cocktail that can easily accommodate alcohol and also tastes delicious sans alcohol. Clearly label drinks if they are pre-made and contain alcohol, and hosts should offer a selection of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Bowls – If serving appetizers or starters, such as shrimp with the tails on, olives with pits or oysters on the half shell, hosts should provide a large bowl for guests to throw away inedible items. Assuming that guests feel comfortable walking around with a handful of olive pits or shrimp tails is impolite.
  • Assigned Seating – With small dinner parties, seating arrangements are rarely an issue. However, if hosting a large dinner, hosts may want to assign seats to help create a livelier, more comfortable party.
  • Phone – Hosts and guests alike should avoid using their phones and turn their ringers off to avoid being disrespectful.
  • Bathroom – Bathrooms should be well stocked with essentials, such as soap and toilet paper before parties. Additionally, hosts may want to consider placing a pleasant smelling candle in the bathroom.
  • Spills – Hosts should have a stain-fighting kit readily available for emergencies and spills. It’s important to have a good sense or humor about spills, as accidents are a regular part of hosting parties. If on the other hand, the guest spills something, it’s proper etiquette for the guest to offer to pay any cleaning fees, especially if the damage could be serious.

Just Charger Plates features a variety of charger plates, which are easy to search by shape, color or material. They offer classic glass charger plates, contemporary square metal charger plates and even eclectic royal purple charger plates. 

Table Manners for Today’s Modern-Day Guest

The days of formal dinnertime etiquette are gone, but there are some general tips that guests should follow when attending a dinner party. To highlight today’s modern etiquette, Just Charger Plates offers helpful tips for guests.

  • Basic Rules – There are still basic rules that guests should follow, which includes not eating until everyone is served, always asking for someone to pass food instead of impolitely reaching over guests, informing hosts in advance about food allergies, trying everything on the plate to be polite, saying “thank you” and “please” while avoiding speaking with a full mouth and waiting to depart the dinner table until everyone is finished eating. Always compliment hosts, even if the dinner party does mimic a blue soup disaster straight out of “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”
  • Table Settings – The main requirements are a salad fork, dinner fork, soupspoon, table knife and a dessertspoon. Wineglasses with or without stems are acceptable and water glasses are less formal than ever, as mason jars can easily serve as water-fueled vessels. Dining settings include charger plates, such as contemporary glass charger plates, formal beaded charger plates or even colorful red charger plates, dinner plates, salad plates and soup bowls. Dessert plates are optional, but salad plates can also serve in their place.
  • Technology – To be polite, it’s important to silence phones at the dinner table. Hosts and guests want to feel as though they have undivided attention, which can be difficult with technology buzzing about. If guests are worried about children calling, etc., it’s important to explain why the telephone is on and that the only anticipation for answering calls is in the event of an emergency.
  • Linens – Tablecloths and placements are perfect separate, but together can make a dinner table feel overly busy. Cloth napkins give any dinner an upscale, more elegant vibe, but paper napkins are always an acceptable alternative, especially for large dinner parties.
  • Setting Tables – As tradition dictates, forks are located to the left of the charger or dinner plates, knives and spoons on the right hand side. Glassware is placed above the knife and spoons. As a general rule of thumb, first course silverware should be on the outside and as dinner progresses, main course silverware is located towards the inside.
  • Meal – Family-style meals can include an array of serving dishes on the table, which are then passed around. If, however, there are some dishes, such as soups, that are more difficult to pass, it may be best to serve these to each individual guest. Large group dinners are best served buffet-style, as this allows for more mingling and less confusion.
  • Centerpieces – Hosts should stick with flowers that are not overly fragrant and just a scattering of candles. To avoid clashing scents, opt for only using a single scent in the living area, such as warm vanilla.
  • Offerings – Guests should always offer to help hosts clean and clear the table. Always thank hosts and it’s best to avoid overstaying welcomes.

Small Space Solutions: Dining Décor

As more Americans are downsizing into smaller homes, this doesn’t necessarily mean that stylish dinner parties are soon to become a long-forgotten tradition. In fact, there are several ways that smaller homes can be designed and decorated to improve small living spaces and make entertaining more efficient.

  • Bars – Instead of the traditional oversized bar that takes up an entire wall of the dining area, consider opting for a wall-mounted bar. These are sleek and pair well with under the cabinet style lighting. Consider opting for glass cabinets for a modern, contemporary look.
  • Double Duty – Sleek entertainment units are perfect for great room areas that keep kitchen, dining and living rooms open for mingled conversations. Consider selecting a television consul that doubles as a faux fireplace.
  • Expandable Tables – Select a small dining table that can easily be extended to accommodate additional guests. This makes it easy to entertain for large holidays or even host small dinner parties.
  • Chairs – One of the most ingenious designs to appear in homes is the morphing chair. When not in use it can easily be folded to double as a stylish room divider. Comfortable and sleek, guests will never know these stylish chairs pull double duty. Another option that designers are turning to is pop up seats. They fold flat for easy storage under couches or in closets, but easily pop up to form a small table or additional seat.
  • Pet Beds – Instead of having cat beds take up valuable floor space, why not combine cat’s love of high sleeping habits with a wall-mounted pet bed? Sophisticated and sleek, cats everywhere will be purring in posh comfort.
  • Flower Frames – Not the typical floral arrangement, many homeowners are turning to wall-mounted flower frames to serve as artwork and also double as a handy bouquet holder.
  • Lamps – Nearly every homeowner wants to place lamps in the corner, which why the ingenious corner lamp is perfect for these hard to reach angles. Neatly slipping into tight nooks and crannies, this lamp helps brighten small spaces while saving on much-needed space.
  • Convertible Storage – Perfect for people that are looking to maximize smaller spaces, convertible storage systems double as classic buffet tables, but expand to reveal an assortment of trays and shelves that will tickle any organizational fiend’s fancy. This type of storage is perfect for storing formal china and crystal. It can also serve as storage for glass charger plates, which are perfect for dinner parties.
  • Imitation Windows – Just when most people thought they’d heard of everything, this ingenious invention neatly hangs on dark walls and instantly gives the illusion of a well-lit window.
  • Ceramic Wall Units – Doubling as space dividers, these units are contemporary and modern. They are perfect for storing books, china and highlighting small artwork.

Just Charger Plates strives to help homeowners create inviting, warm spaces despite small size restrictions. They offer a variety of contemporary and traditional charger plate designs, including glass charger plates, square charger plates and even mirror charger plates.

Budget-Friendly Dining Décor

With more Americans on tight budgets, 2014 is anticipated to be the year of do-it-yourself décor. With less Americans completing costly home remodels, the latest trend is focusing on defining spaces using inexpensive home furnishings.

Just Charger Plates offers a variety of budget-friendly décor that will help inject modern design into dining room areas.

  • China Cabinets – These can easily be dressed up by adding colorful touches of bold serving pieces or goblets. To help coordinate colors, consider selecting a single complimentary hue or a pantone of similar hues.
  • Dessert or Charger Plates – These look excellent when paired next to white or ivory china settings. Consider selecting an eclectic pattern for dessert plates and a complimentary design for charger plates.  Charger plates come in a variety of styles, colors, materials and shapes, including classic round charger plates, artistic octagonal charger plates and even modern square charger plates.
  • Wineglasses – Opt for colorful wineglasses that add a bold bright touch of color to traditional crystal designs.
  • Light Fixture – Instead of avoiding the elephant in the room – namely the ugly 1970s gold chandelier – homeowners may opt for a modern replacement. Several big box stores offer affordable chandeliers that are modern, bright and fun. Popular options include hanging light pendants, wood veneer designs and swag chandeliers.
  • Chairs – To immediately add a touch of sophisticated color to dining rooms, consider changing chair fabrics. Reupholstering chair-framed seats is a breeze and the Internet offers endless do-it-yourself video and tutorial references.
  • Fabrics – The best types of fabrics for dining chairs are indoor-outdoor materials. These are crisp, but hold up to stains and jean rivets.  Popular patterns include neutral masculine geometric designs, bright vintage floral, colorful zigzags and classic chevron prints.
  • Table Runners – Tables instantly receive a much-needed face-lift with an updated table runner. For do-it-yourself designers, consider sewing the table runner, which gives the added benefit of being able to select from a wide assortment of materials. Popular designs include classic country that highlights a simple rooster, inkblot designs or contemporary chain link patterns.
  • Candlelight – Candles make any space look upscale and elegant. Hurricane vases are often found in second hand stores, which make them an affordable option for pillar candles.
  • Art – Dressing up the walls doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, affordable artwork can include patterned textiles, decorative plates or even local artwork from art festivals.
  • Paint Color – Rooms are instantly transformed with an updated coat of paint. Instead of opting for classic white, homeowners can consider painting one wall a bright, cozy color that makes the dining area inviting.

Decorative Tablescapes for Holiday Parties

Whether it’s casual or dripping in opulent elegance, tablescapes set the mood for holiday get-togethers. Understanding the importance of impressing guests, Just Charger Plates features stunning ideas that will help wow guests with spectacular style.

  • Cottage Comfort – Mix a dash of old-world style and combine it with a dollop of cottage charm and hosts will impress guests with an array of peaceful yellow and green hues that blend with bouquets of bold, cheery sunflowers and baskets of ripe lemons and limes. Pairing well with goblets and an antique crystal chandelier, this style will leave guests in awe.
  • Modern – To create a modern tablescape, consider painting curly willow or contorted filbert branches a soft white. Pair this with glowing white circular lighting and a contemporary piece of artwork, and dining rooms will take guests’ breath away.
  • Monochromatic – Instead of decorating with traditional red and green holiday fare, consider exploring a monochromatic theme that highlights white crocuses, silver dipped pinecones and silver charger plates. This makes rooms look stunning, elegant and exceptionally modern.
  • White – Hosts can’t go wrong with all-white table settings. Creating a magical winter wonderland, white is elegant, charming and most importantly, appetizing!
  • Holiday Style – To embrace the essence of the holidays, the right chandelier can easily accommodate beautiful strings of glass ornaments. Giving a cascading bauble effect, similar to that of a renowned Dale Chihuly sculpture, this spectacular tablescape is sure to turn heads.
  • Formal – A formal table setting is always a party classic. Formal colors include gold or silver paired with ivory and elegant crystal. Just Charger Plates offers an assortment of stunning charger plates, perfect for formal table settings. These colors can easily be combined with more ornate antique styles to reflect a Victorian appearance, which looks especially delightful in historic homes.
  • Metallic – On fire this season, metallic hues are dominating home trends. Pairing well together, metallic copper, gold and silver blend with delicate winter ivories, defining classic, contemporary table settings.

Decor should blend with the plate settings. When purchasing dishes, consider a neutral color, as this can easily be dressed up or down. A basic, yet classic, white porcelain dinner plate pairs well with gold, silver, black, red, blue, purple, white, brown or pink, making it extremely versatile for all occasions year-round.

Just Charger Plates offers a wide selection of charger plates, which instantly dress up standard white dinner plates. Available in a variety of shapes and materials, they offer hundreds of unique designs, perfect for formal, casual or holiday events. For hosts that don’t want to commit to a certain color, glass or mirror charger plates are the perfect neutral accessories for tablescapes.

Small Space Solutions: Dining Décor

As more Americans are downsizing into smaller homes, this doesn’t necessarily mean that stylish dinner parties are soon to become a long-forgotten tradition. In fact, there are several ways that smaller homes can be designed and decorated to improve small living spaces and make entertaining more efficient.

  • Bars – Instead of the traditional oversized bar that takes up an entire wall of the dining area, consider opting for a wall-mounted bar. These are sleek and pair well with under the cabinet style lighting. Consider opting for glass cabinets for a modern, contemporary look.
  • Double Duty – Sleek entertainment units are perfect for great room areas that keep kitchen, dining and living rooms open for mingled conversations. Consider selecting a television consul that doubles as a faux fireplace.
  • Expandable Tables – Select a small dining table that can easily be extended to accommodate additional guests. This makes it easy to entertain for large holidays or even host small dinner parties.
  • Chairs – One of the most ingenious designs to appear in homes is the morphing chair. When not in use it can easily be folded to double as a stylish room divider. Comfortable and sleek, guests will never know these stylish chairs pull double duty. Another option that designers are turning to is pop up seats. They fold flat for easy storage under couches or in closets, but easily pop up to form a small table or additional seat.
  • Pet Beds – Instead of having cat beds take up valuable floor space, why not combine cat’s love of high sleeping habits with a wall-mounted pet bed? Sophisticated and sleek, cats everywhere will be purring in posh comfort.
  • Flower Frames – Not the typical floral arrangement, many homeowners are turning to wall-mounted flower frames to serve as artwork and also double as a handy bouquet holder.
  • Lamps – Nearly every homeowner wants to place lamps in the corner, which why the ingenious corner lamp is perfect for these hard to reach angles. Neatly slipping into tight nooks and crannies, this lamp helps brighten small spaces while saving on much-needed space.
  • Convertible Storage – Perfect for people that are looking to maximize smaller spaces, convertible storage systems double as classic buffet tables, but expand to reveal an assortment of trays and shelves that will tickle any organizational fiend’s fancy. This type of storage is perfect for storing formal china and crystal. It can also serve as storage for glass charger plates, which are perfect for dinner parties.
  • Imitation Windows – Just when most people thought they’d heard of everything, this ingenious invention neatly hangs on dark walls and instantly gives the illusion of a well-lit window.
  • Ceramic Wall Units – Doubling as space dividers, these units are contemporary and modern. They are perfect for storing books, china and highlighting small artwork.

Just Charger Plates strives to help homeowners create inviting, warm spaces despite small size restrictions. They offer a variety of contemporary and traditional charger plate designs, including glass charger plates, square charger plates and even mirror charger plates.