Planning a Rehearsal Dinner


The rehearsal dinner is the official start of your wedding festivities! Once you and your guests arrive to the wedding rehearsal dinner all of the planning and preparing is officially done and now you get to sit back, relax, and enjoy everything you’ve been working so hard to prepare! The wedding rehearsal dinner is a time for the bride and groom’s closest friends and family to get to know each other and celebrate the marriage of the soon to be newlyweds! But, before you enjoy this festivity there is some planning to be done.

Planning the Rehearsal Dinner


The Purpose of the wedding rehearsal dinner is to bring your closest friends and family together for a sort of pre-celebration. You have completed all of the planning and preparation and now you have made it to the big event! This is a time to enjoy everyone’s company and celebrate the marriage that is to come!

The Host has traditionally been the parents of the groom, since the financial supporter of the wedding has typically been the parents of the bride. However, in today’s day weddings are becoming more and more less traditional. If the bride and groom’s parents decide to split the cost of the wedding than maybe the bride and groom may pay for and host the rehearsal dinner. Maybe you have a wealthy uncle who adores you and wants to step up as the host. Whoever you decide to host the wedding rehearsal dinner, it is important to give them plenty of time to plan and prepare for the event in order to keep it as easy and stress-free as possible. Remember to leave the planning up to them to show your trust and appreciation, but don’t be afraid to chip in your opinion on the overall experience you wish to have…after all, it is all about you!

The Guest Listtypically consists of the wedding party, the bride and groom’s immediate family and grandparents, the parents of any children in the wedding party, and everyone’s dates. It is also common practice to invite the officiant as a courtesy as well as his or her spouse. This traditional guest list allows you to keep the wedding rehearsal dinner as an intimate experience to celebrate the coming of the big day with your closest friends and family that have been by your side all the way.

The Timing of a wedding rehearsal dinner is usually pretty standard. Most couples plan their wedding rehearsal the evening before their wedding and dinner immediate following. If this is the course you choose it is smart to plan the rehearsal at 5:30 so attendees can have time to leave work and get to the venue. Dinner usually follows afterwards at 7pm. Although this is the traditional time to host a rehearsal dinner for a Saturday wedding, some people choose to have the rehearsal dinner 2 nights before the wedding (in case you will be up late and possibly needing a day of recovery). Others even choose to have a casual breakfast or brunch rehearsal the day of. Just remember, you want your wedding day to be as flawless as possible so planning ahead to decide the easiest time and day for your rehearsal dinner can make things run a lot smoother when the wedding day comes.

The Location of your rehearsal dinner depends on your personal preference. Decide whether you want a small or a large rehearsal dinner, do you want it to be big and welcoming or close and intimate? Maybe you want a casual dinner or maybe you want a formal dining experience. If you want to have a casual rehearsal dinner you can consider hosting a barbeque in your backyard or a clambake at the beach! If you want something more fancy and elegant you can rent out a dining hall at your favorite restaurant, this is very popular for rehearsal dinners. Once you decide these key factors you can determine the perfect location.

The Theme of your wedding rehearsal dinner can be anything you want! Some people keep the theme consistent with their wedding day by using the same colors and atmosphere, if you do this make sure you don’t overshadow what your actual wedding day will be like! Another possible idea for a theme is to play up your culture. Consider having a Hawaiian Luau or a Latin Fiesta, these themed dinners always entertain! Another great idea for a theme is to go off of you and your spouse’s dating history. Where was your first date? Your favorite place to dine out together? Where did he pop the question? Choosing one of these locations often makes the evening more sentimental and allows you to share something meaningful with your guests. Whatever the theme is you want to make sure it is in line with the atmosphere you’re looking for and that all of your guests are informed so they know how to dress and what to expect!

The Dinner Itself


Welcoming your guests is a perfect way to meet out of towners and in-laws who you haven’t gotten the chance to meet. Use this time to greet your guests and allow everyone to get to know each other. As you welcome your guests it is courteous to formally make an announcement welcoming everyone to the dinner and thanking them for coming.

Toasts are often practiced at the rehearsal dinner. Traditionally the groom’s father and the groom offer small toasts thanking everyone for coming. However, the rehearsal dinner is a good time to open the floor to anyone who would like to offer some kind words since there won’t be time at the actual wedding.

Gift Giving often occurs during the rehearsal dinner. It is tradition for the bride and groom to give gifts to their wedding party and their parents as a special sign of appreciation and gratitude for all of their love and support over the years. The rehearsal dinner is a great time to subtly present these gifts. Since giving your gifts to your parents can oftentimes be more emotional it is also common to save these gifts for a later time, in private.

Have Fun! The rehearsal dinner is the beginning of your wedding and it is a time for you to enjoy the celebration. At this time all of the wedding planning and preparation should be complete so you can enjoy this special time with your closest friends and family as you now mentally and emotionally prepare for the wedding day!

Other Things to Consider


Your Budgetcan determine how small or large your rehearsal dinner will be as well as how casual or fancy it will be. Keep your budget in mind when making these decisions so you can plan an appropriate dinner that will be stress-free and as enjoyable as possible.

Out of Towners often come into town for the entire wedding weekend. Because of this it is usually nice to invite them to the rehearsal dinner as well to show your appreciation for them making the trip for your wedding and to get the most out of your time with them! However, if you are running on a smaller budget or have a lot of out of town guests you can plan a more casual festivity after the dinner such as inviting everyone to join you for drinks at bar close by.

Invitations are important not just for the wedding, but the rehearsal dinner as well. Make sure to send the rehearsal dinner invitations out well in advance so the guests who must be in attendance can make appropriate arrangements and get time off work if needed. If you’re having a small dinner you can send invitations through Evite or DIY cards, or even personal phone calls. If you’re having a large dinner it may be more appropriate to mail invitations around the same time as your wedding invites go out. Make sure to include directions regarding the location, theme and attire so your guests can be prepared.

Last Minute Announcements can be given at the end of your rehearsal dinner. This is a great time to make sure everyone in the wedding party is clear on what they need to do on the wedding day whether that be what time to arrive, where to meet, what items to bring or any other important last minute notifications you need them to know. Also remember to thank everyone for coming, it’swedding time!

Now you have an overview of everything you need to know to be able to plan for and prepare a flawless and stress-free wedding rehearsal dinner that you and your guests are sure to enjoy before the festivities of the big wedding day!