An important part of planning a wedding is knowing how to plan a rehearsal dinner. An event in itself, this is something that cannot be left to last-minute planning and needs to be organized ahead of time. But with all the other things to think about when planning for the big day, you might not have time to figure out the rehearsal dinner on your own. No worries! We are here to help.
Here is an easy step-by-step guide on how to plan a rehearsal dinner.
The first step in how to plan a rehearsal dinner is deciding who will host the event. Traditionally, the bride’s parents pay for the wedding, so the groom’s parents take care of the rehearsal dinner.
But as weddings themselves are becoming less traditional, feel free to play around with who this responsibility is given to. Maybe both sets of families are splitting the wedding cost, and you as a couple host the rehearsal dinner. Or vice versa.
Either way, the rehearsal dinner is generally much less formal than the actual wedding and more intimate and casual. Whoever you decide should host will need to reflect and plan for that.
The next step in how to plan a rehearsal dinner is to make the guest list. Regardless of who is hosting the event, the guest list should ultimately be up to the couple.
But who do you invite to a rehearsal dinner?
The rehearsal dinner usually occurs immediately after the ceremony rehearsal, so it’s customary for those involved to attend. So the wedding party and spouses or significant others should all be included. Traditional rehearsal dinner etiquette dictates that an invitation should also be extended to the officiate and a guest.
Rehearsal dinners are also an excellent way to ensure quality time with other immediate family members before the blur of wedding festivities. It can also be a nice gesture to invite those guests who have had to travel far for the wedding.
Ultimately, the number of guests will depend on your budget. If the budget for dinner can’t include all those you would wish to invite, that’s okay. You can always have a separate after-event of cocktails and dessert to include others as well.
Something to decide early on when considering how to plan a rehearsal dinner is the date and time.
Typically, the rehearsal is the day before the wedding. Because of work schedules, most weddings are on a Saturday, which puts the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner on Friday. Schedule the rehearsal at a time when the wedding party can make it after work, usually around 5:30 pm. After planning for the rehearsal to last about 30-45 minutes, 7 pm for dinner is usually a good target.
However, sometimes the rehearsal and dinner will be planned a couple of days before the wedding. This gives everyone enough time to rest and get ready for the big day.
If the wedding is planned in a holiday season, this can also free up the schedule a little bit. Those involved may have more time off available around certain holidays, so there are more rehearsal day possibilities.
Just make sure to decide on a date and time early on. You need to give those who have to travel plenty of time to plan and RSVP. If you can, send out the invitations for the rehearsal dinner along with those for the wedding.
When figuring out how to plan a rehearsal dinner, keep it in mind that this is not the main event. You can make the rehearsal dinner as fun, informal, or casual as you want!
Choosing a theme is a fun way to make a rehearsal dinner memorable. Depending on the season, consider hosting it outdoors. A picnic, barbecue, or beachside theme can be an easy way to kick back and relax before the bigger festivities.
The next step in how to plan a rehearsal dinner is to decide on a location or venue.
If your theme is a picnic, host the dinner at a park. Or if it’s a barbecue, you can even have it in someone’s backyard! This can really cut down on cost and free up your budget for other things.
If you decide to host your rehearsal dinner at a restaurant (which is a fairly traditional option), make it a special one! And be sure to make reservations well in advance.
Make the event and space you choose look and feel special, but keep your decorations simple and minimal. The rehearsal dinner should be a sneak peek of the big day, but shouldn’t outshine it.
One of the most important factors when considering how to plan a rehearsal dinner is the dinner itself.
Your menu might be dependent on the venue or theme you choose, so keep that in mind. If outdoors, a buffet-style catered event and open seating might be easiest. If you’re at the beach, make it seafood!
If you have a lot of out-of-towners, consider featuring some local cuisine for your rehearsal dinner.
Hosting your rehearsal dinner at a restaurant makes this part easy, as the establishment will take care of everything. All you have to do is pick a place that’s special to you and will be special for your guests!
Food trucks are super popular these days, so you can even consider hiring your favorite food trucks for your rehearsal dinner. If the thought of having a food truck at any wedding-related event shocks you, it shouldn’t! At the most recent royal wedding, it was reported that the now “Duchess of Sussex”, Meghan Markle, had arranged food trucks for her guests. And if it’s good enough for royalty, it’s good enough for us!
When considering how to plan a rehearsal dinner, it is important to be aware that people will inevitably want to make speeches and toasts.
The host will probably want to thank everyone for coming and have a few things to say about the couple. This usually opens up the floor for more speech-making and toasts, especially if champagne is flowing.
The bride-and-groom-to-be might also want to take this more intimate time to thank everyone and welcome their guests.
Rehearsal dinners are a great time to give gifts to your wedding party. This is especially important if their gifts contain things you want them to wear on the big day. So when you think about how to plan a rehearsal dinner, be sure to make time for gifts.
Gifts for parents to thank them for all their love and support over the years can be customary as well. These should also be included at this time.
Sometimes couples will want to give each other special gifts before the wedding. A rehearsal dinner can be a good time for this exchange unless the couple prefers it to be more private.
There are always last-minute details, reminders, and things to take care of that need to be communicated. As the final formal event before the wedding, the rehearsal dinner is a great time to make sure you have everything in order.
Overall, the most important thing when considering how to plan a rehearsal dinner is to make sure you HAVE FUN. Sure, there are things to do and plans to make. But your rehearsal dinner should be a relaxing time enjoyed with those closest to you before you tie the knot. So don’t let it stress you out. Make it easy, make it fun, and make it memorable. Leave the rest for the big day.
We hope you found this step-by-step on how to plan a rehearsal dinner helpful in planning your own. Want to read more useful wedding content like it? Find more on our blog.