How to Plan and Host Your Rehearsal Dinner

Rehearsal dinner wedding toast

A rehearsal dinner is usually held the night before the wedding day after the ceremony rehearsal. It is a celebration that allows for the bride and groom’s families to spend time together and get to know one another, as well as an opportunity for the soon-to-be-newlyweds to thank everyone for their support and help in planning the big day. Planning yet another event on top of everything else involved with the wedding may seem like a hefty task, but don’t worry – our guide will help you plan the perfect rehearsal dinner.

Choose a date and time

The rehearsal dinner typically happens after the wedding rehearsal, which typically takes place the day before the actual wedding. It does not necessarily have to be a dinner, but rather can be a brunch or lunch instead if you prefer. Be aware of timing if you do have a traditional rehearsal dinner; you don’t want your primary wedding party to be out too late the night before the wedding!


Establish a guest list

In general, the rehearsal dinner involves the people who take part in the actual rehearsal wedding: the bride and groom, their immediate families, the officiant, the wedding party including flower girls, ring bearers and their parents and all dates and spouses of those listed above. You can, of course, tweak this guest list depending on who you think should attend, but this is just a general guideline. Once you’ve determined who to invite to the dinner, send out invitations with all of the details about a month before the dinner will take place.

Wedding guest list

Photo Credit: Wedding Happy


Determine your budget

We know that everything leading up to the wedding thus far may have cost quite a bit, so naturally you’ll want to be budget-conscious when planning your rehearsal dinner. Traditionally, the groom’s parents pay for the rehearsal dinner, but in this day and age couples are either paying for it themselves or splitting the cost with both sets of parents. Once you settle on a budget you can then decide where you want to host the event.

Choose a location

Rehearsal dinners can be as casual or formal as you’d like. If you are okay with having a low-key, informal affair, dinner at your favorite date restaurant, a backyard picnic or ordering in pizza would all be great wallet-friendly options. If you’d like to stick to the more traditional route of having dinner at a nice restaurant, take into account the cost of appetizers, entrees, desserts, drinks and gratuity for hosting all of your guests. Find a restaurant that has a menu that accommodates your group and budget and make reservations for the date and time you chose. Your rehearsal dinner should directly reflect you and your fiance’s personalities, so if having a barbeque at the local park is more your style, go with that instead of a formal dinner. After all, this is a celebration of you two and your love for one another.

Wedding rehearsal dinner restaurant

Photo Credit: The Pink Bride


Coordinate toasts and presentations

The rehearsal dinner is the perfect intimate setting for your closest friends and family members to give toasts (or roasts!) to you: the happy couple. Although they will be expected to give toasts at the actual wedding as well, this is a great time for them to say things a bit more candidly and humorously than they would at the reception in front of the rest of the guests. You may also want to toast one another, and publicly thank each person there for participating in your wedding. This is also an opportunity for you to show any special presentations, such slideshows of photos of memories of you and your fiancé. If someone else is making a slideshow, coordinate them with the venue to make sure that things go smoothly the day of. If you are planning to give your bridesmaids and groomsmen gifts, now would be a great time to do so.

Rehearsal dinner wedding toast

Photo Credit: Wedding Compass


Finalize seating arrangements

Now that you’ve got your date, time, location, guest list and events settled, the last thing to do is work out a seating arrangement. This is tough because those invited are those who are most important to you and your wedding. You will most likely want to be seated next to your parents and your maid of honor and best man. It may be a good idea to seat people who don’t know one another next to each other so that they can get acquainted before the wedding. Make a point of personally introducing these people to each other to break the ice. It would be best to scatter those who are already close around the room so that they can meet new people, especially because everyone in the room plays an important role in you and your fiance’s lives. Soon your lives will merge together and everyone at the rehearsal dinner will be a part of the new chapter you are starting.

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