Between planning events, showers and bachelor and bachelorette parties there are lots of opportunities for your bridal party to get to know one another. All this mingling, however, is done separately. Bridesmaids with bridesmaids and groomsmen with groomsmen. That means that most bridesmaids and groomsmen say hello for the first time at the rehearsal. They meet at the back of the church, shake hands and commence their practice walk. It's not the worst thing in the world, but it's not as much fun that way. If you can avoid it, its so much better if they can get acquainted beforehand. Thats where the bridal party mixer comes in.
I know it sounds like another obligation to burden your bridal party with. I know they have already committed so much time, but there are ways to make it easier. If you are planning your bachelor and bachelorette parties for the same weekend in the same general area simply plan a pre-party meet up. Keep it simple. Everyone can meet up for a few happy hour drinks before hitting the town separately. They don't have to make another trip or give up another evening. Wedding festivities can easily become extravagant, but this one can be laid back.
If thats not an option try an event right before the wedding. If people are filtering into town a few days before the wedding then take an afternoon to grab a bite to eat with everyone. Trying planning a brunch the day of the rehearsal. It doesnt have to be anything fancy, but everyone will be glad of a chance to meet before the big event if they havent had the chance. After all, one of the reasons theyre called the bridal party is because they are responsible for getting guests on the dance floor and making your wedding look like tremendous fun. Its hard to do that if theyre still trying to remember each others names.