Wedding Rehearsal Dinner: Casual Rehearsal Dinner for Formal Wedding?

Q:

I have a very close family -- in fact, five of my cousins are in my wedding. Because we are so close, I fear that not only will my cousins and their dates attend the rehearsal dinner, but also so will their parents (my aunts and uncles) and siblings. I don't have the heart to forbid them from attending, but I will have more than 45 people at the dinner. Would it be all right to have the rehearsal dinner at a casual Italian restaurant? My wedding is very formal and I'm worried this might seem tacky. My in-laws are concerned that they will look cheap, but I think it would be fun for everyone to get to know each other. What do you think?

A:

The rehearsal dinner is the perfect opportunity to let your families get to know each other in a more casual atmosphere. Your idea is not tacky at all -- and guests will probably really enjoy it! The formal wedding will be that much nicer and more fun because all the key players are already comfortable with each other. And a "casual" rehearsal dinner doesn't mean it's unstylish.