Yeah Weddings
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How To Plan a Rehearsal Dinner

Obviously, having a wedding includes a lot of planning. From large issues like finding a venue and a dress, to small things like boutonnieres and hors d’oeuvres, you may be so busy wedding planning that you forget that you also need to know how to plan a rehearsal dinner!

Weddings come with a few pre-wedding events, so you’ll need to plan for showers, honeymoons, and of course, rehearsal dinners. While things like this may fall to the wayside when thinking about the big day, it’s important that every part of your wedding is something you enjoy.

As you move forward in the process, keep reading to learn how to plan a rehearsal dinner.

What Is a Wedding Rehearsal Dinner?

what is a rehearsal dinner

A rehearsal dinner is an event that is held a few nights before your wedding day. At the rehearsal, the couple, their families, and the wedding party may plan the wedding ceremony in close detail for the coming day.

This might include practicing walking down the aisle, timing, placements, readings, and other roles one may hold in the ceremony.After that, you may hold a dinner for the members of the rehearsal. Hence, the rehearsal dinner.

This tradition is pretty popular – many families do it and is a nice way to spend time with the most important people in your life before the big day. You can read more about rehearsal dinners here.


Planning a Rehearsal Dinner

So now, you’re planning your rehearsal dinner. You may have a lot of questions, like who should come, what should you do, and how much will it cost? Thankfully, there are pretty easy answers to these questions and others like them.

According to our perfect 12-month wedding planning timeline, you should start planning a rehearsal dinner about 4 months before the wedding day. This ensures that you have enough time to book a venue and figure out food.

Keep reading for more about all the nuances of planning a rehearsal dinner you’ll never forget.


Who Gets Invited to the Rehearsal Dinner?

small bridal party

It’s possible that you may feel pressured to invite a lot of people to your rehearsal dinner. However, just because people got wedding invitations or are on the wedding guest list, it doesn’t mean that they need to come to the rehearsal.

In fact, the rehearsal dinner should just be people needed at the ceremony rehearsal itself. Some people may choose to send rehearsal dinner invitations, but it’s not as common as just telling through word of mouth, so a formal invitation is not always necessary.

Therefore, the typical rehearsal dinner guest lists includes the entire wedding party, meaning the couple’s closest family and very close friends, and maybe some extended family if they are coming from out of town.

The point of the rehearsal dinner is to spend time with loved ones before the wedding day, so it’s important that you keep it to those you feel really comfortable with.


When Should You Hold the Rehearsal Dinner?

backyard engagement party

The perfect time of the rehearsal dinner in relation to the wedding is entirely up to you and based on the logistics of your wedding. When are you able to visit the ceremony space to practice? Is there travel involved, for you or for guests? What day of the week is your wedding?

All of these things will impact when you hold a rehearsal dinner. Traditionally, many people have their rehearsal dinner the night directly before the wedding or in their wedding weekend, making it the last time that the bride and groom see each other.

However, if you want to have it a few days before the wedding, nothing is really different.


The Actual Wedding Rehearsal

religious wedding ceremony

Before the dinner, there’s the actual rehearsal. The rehearsal is where you fine-tune details of the ceremony, like pacing, processional order, the role of the usher, and readings. This is an essential event because it helps ensure that your ceremony will go smoothly and everyone knows what to do for it. 

This is also where you get a good idea of what your ceremony will feel like in the space you’ve selected. If you’re in a large church, you may notice now that you have to walk for much longer than you’d expected, so you’d better break in those heels. If you’re outside, you may need to clear up larger spaces than expected.


Where to Have the Rehearsal Dinner

rehearsal dinner venue

There are a lot of different options for rehearsal dinner venues. It depends on the wedding venue, ceremony venue, and what sort of rehearsal dinner you’d like to have. It can range from 5-star restaurants to your own backyard!

The three things to take into account are budget, number of guests, and atmosphere. If you’re bringing a large group, you’ll have to call local restaurants in advance to see if you can be accommodated.

For a smaller crowd, a restaurant might be a better option. There’s also always take out! You could also do something fun, like a museum space or botanical garden, though that may be a bit more expensive.


Rehearsal Dinner Food 

food on grill

As it is a dinner, most people expect to be fed at the rehearsal. However, the type of food you go for is totally up to you.

Most often, you’ll want to go for something different than what you’re serving at the wedding; if the wedding has a five-course chicken dish, go for pizza! If the wedding has pizza, then maybe try Chinese!

However, you can also do more interesting things. Maybe if you’re having it at home, you call it a potluck and have everyone bring a dish. You could even barbecue for your guests!

If you want to have it earlier in the day, a rehearsal brunch has recently become popular.


Themes and Decorations

modern table setting

You may want to give your rehearsal dinner a theme. Thankfully, there are many options for an event such as this.

One way to decide how to theme and decorate your rehearsal dinner is based on the venue. If you have a restaurant in mind, they already likely have a certain atmosphere in the restaurant that you can play off of.

However, you may also want to do something more specific. If you have a very particular theme for your own wedding, you might want to play off of that for the rehearsal dinner. There are also seasonal and local ways to theme. 


What Do You Wear to Your Rehearsal Dinner?

non traditional wedding dresses

The rehearsal dinner attire is all up to you, and is also probably based on venue. If you’re hosting at a very fancy restaurant, you’ll probably want to have your guests in nice cocktail attire. If you’re having it in your backyard, then jeans all around should be fine!

For brides, you may want to wear a cute white dress, signifying that you’re the bride! Something occasion-appropriate and pretty is what most women go for. Men might want to wear a nice shirt and a pair of slacks, or even a suit if they’re a snazzy dresser.


Rehearsal Dinner Traditions

grooms cake

There are a few rehearsal dinner traditions. One of the most exciting is that there are some rehearsal dinner toasts from different people than who will be speaking at the wedding. The toasts are an opportunity to enjoy the intimacy of the event and to honor the special relationships that are enjoying the meal.

There’s also the groom’s cake! A groom’s cake is a cake served at the rehearsal that reflects the groom and his interests, as the wedding cake is usually very stylized and feminine. This delicious addition to your party has many different variations and options. You can read more about groom’s cakes here.


Activities for the Rehearsal Dinner

toasting at a rehearsal dinner

You may be wondering how to keep your guests interested during the rehearsal dinner. Well, like any party, you can plan some fun games or activities that everyone can enjoy. 

If you’re having your rehearsal dinner outdoors, you can try some fun lawn games, similar to activities for an outdoor wedding reception. For something a bit more intimate, the happy couple could play a premature round of the newlywed game, going off of the questions listed here.

Many people also use the rehearsal dinner as an opportunity to give out some gifts to the wedding party. For ideas on that front, you can check out gift ideas for groomsmen and gift ideas for the bridal party.

Make sure you also prepare time for speeches – it’s common for a few people to speak at the rehearsal dinner. Sometimes the groom speaks, but it’s up to you to decide who speaks at your rehearsal dinner.


Booking Your Rehearsal Dinner

dessert at rehearsal dinner

To book your rehearsal dinner, reach out to the location you have in mind and ask them if they have a space in which you can have your party.

You’ll have to let them know how many people you plan on attending and what day and time you’d like to have the event.

As stated above, it is best to finalize these plans around four months before your wedding.


Rehearsal Dinner Cost

wedding decorator

Once you do this, you will likely get a quote from the venue. However, the general cost of a rehearsal dinner depends greatly on how many people you are having and where you are having it.

Obviously, renting a venue is going to be more expensive than having it in your backyard. For a ballpark estimate, states that the average rehearsal dinner is around $1350.

More About Planning Your Wedding Activities

Here at Yeah Weddings, we’re dedicated to helping you plan every aspect of your big day. From planning your small wedding to throwing your wedding after party, keep reading for everything you need in your wedding planning journey.

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Katie Sheets

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