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Rehearsal Dinner

12 Steps to Planning the Perfect Rehearsal Dinner

The rehearsal dinner kick-starts your wedding weekend, and serves as the perfect opportunity for close friends and family members to gather and mingle the evening before your wedding. You’ve likely stressed enough over planning the perfect wedding day, so this is the time to sit back and relax before the chaos of the big day hits. With all of this in mind, we’ve compiled a step-by-step checklist of planning tips to throw the most fabulous rehearsal dinner! Make sure to check out even more inspirational wedding ideas in our latest Fall/Winter 2018 issue, as well as by following us on Pinterest! Happy planning!

ONE // Decide Who Will Host the Dinner

rehearsal dinner

Foolish Things Coffee Co

Typically, the rehearsal dinner is the groom’s parent’s time to shine, but if we’re being honest, anything goes these days. If the bride’s family paid for the ceremony, stick with tradition and let the groom’s side chip in. However, if both sides of the family contributed to the big day, maybe this is your and your fiancé’s chance to pay.

TWO // Pick Your Venue

rehearsal dinner

Broadway 10

Your venue will undoubtedly set the tone for your rehearsal dinner. Open floor plans like Broadway 10 are a great way to keep the evening more relaxed and casual in preparation for all of the exciting festivities to come the next day. It will also encourage your guests to mingle, as quite a few will likely be meeting for the first time.

THREE // Create the Guest List

rehearsal dinner

The Chalkboard

A rehearsal dinner guest list traditionally includes anyone with a role in your wedding, as well as close friends and family members. If you have any guests traveling, it’s courteous to invite them as well, considering how far they’ve come to celebrate this new chapter in your life! More on this next, but you’ll want to include the option to RSVP to the rehearsal with a ‘plus one’ to get a better headcount estimate.

FOUR // Send Out Invites

rehearsal dinner

Pepperoni Grill | Modern Love Photography

Your rehearsal dinner invitations should be sent out separately from your wedding invitations. They should include your venue’s address, the time of the dinner, the time and location of the rehearsal practice, RSVP contact and deadline info, a menu overview as well as suggested attire.

FIVE // Notify Those You Want to Give Toasts

rehearsal dinner

Cafe 501

The fathers of the bride and groom typically give toasts at the rehearsal dinner, but, as previously mentioned, anything goes in 2018. You’ll want to give whoever those special people are ample notice so that they’re able to collect their thoughts in full. Chances are, you have quite a few people who would love the opportunity to wish you and your honey-to-be well in front of a smaller, more intimate audience. Considering an open mic is a great option!

SIX // Exchange Gifts

rehearsal dinner


The rehearsal dinner is the perfect time to gift the members of your wedding party, especially if it involves something you’d like them to wear the next day for the ceremony. Also keep parents, grandparents and anyone else who has contributed to your wedding weekend in mind.

SEVEN // Create Your Menu

rehearsal dinner

Boulevard Steakhouse

Your menu is completely dependent on the tone you’d like to set for the evening! If you’re going for a more casual vibe, a buffet featuring gourmet pizza slices and a variety of salad options might be right for you. If you’re interested in a more formal evening, a steak and lobster dish as shown above from Boulevard Steakhouse could be the way to go!

EIGHT // Say Your Thank-Yous

rehearsal dinner

Mickey Mantle’s Steakhouse

This should go without saying, but here we are, saying it anyways. SHOW GRATITUDE! It’s likely that your guests have supported you and your fiancé throughout your relationship, as well as gone out of their way in some form or fashion to be in attendance. Start the evening off with a word of thanks, possibly including an itinerary for the evening.

NINE // Schedule the Time Appropriately

rehearsal dinner

Harris Custom Catering | Picturesque Photos by Amanda

It’s possible that a portion of your rehearsal dinner guests may not be attending the rehearsal itself. You don’t want them waiting at the venue for too long, so make sure you map out travel time between your ceremony venue and dinner locale. Generally, a rehearsal practice shouldn’t require any longer than 30-45 minutes, so heading to dinner around 7:00 pm after a 5:30 pm rehearsal is fairly typical as far as timing goes.

TEN // Check with Vendors + Set Up Any Equipment Early

rehearsal dinner

Museum Cafe

If you have a wedding coordinator, you can ignore this step! Hooray! However, if you’ve chosen to take on the task of coordinating yourself, you’ll want to follow up with all of your vendors the morning of your rehearsal dinner to ensure that everything runs smoothly. If you have any equipment to set up, such as a projector for a slideshow or microphones and speakers, this is a great time to get that taken care of so you can avoid that hassle at the beginning of the dinner!

ELEVEN // Give Out Any Last-Minute Reminders

rehearsal dinner

Packard’s New American Kitchen

Toward the end of your rehearsal dinner, you may want to take advantage of everyone being seated in one place at one time, and give a few quick reminders of the time and location of your ceremony and reception. You may also include any details regarding transportation for guests, as well as arrival times for the wedding party.

TWELVE // Relax and Enjoy!

rehearsal dinner

Venue 7 @ Cafe 7 | Modern Love Photography

Last, but certainly not least, enjoy! Your rehearsal dinner is the calm before the storm, and a great opportunity to spend quality time with your closest friends and family before you take the plunge into wedding day chaos. Make sure you actually eat the food you’ve worked so hard to arrange for, and truly live in the moment!

Featured in this Post

Other Local Vendors: Picturesque Photos by Amanda, Museum Cafe, Vast, The Chalkboard, Cafe 7 / Venue 7, Cafe 501, Broadway 10, Modern Love Photography, Foolish Things Coffee, Boulevard Steakhouse, Packard's New American Kitchen