The Hassle-Free Guide To Planning A Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

Your wedding rehearsal dinner is the perfect opportunity to kick off your wedding celebrations in style. The rehearsal dinner is traditionally hosted by the groom’s parents the night before the wedding ceremony takes place. It’s your chance to celebrate with close family and friends.

While planning another event may seem like added stress, sit back and relax, as this dinner can be as informal or as extravagant as you like.

With only 24 hours until you wed your loved one, there’s only one thing you need to worry about – enjoying the party!! Whether you intend on having a formal affair or a pre-nuptial party to give your guests something to remember, here are some great ideas on how to plan the perfect wedding rehearsal dinner.

Choose a Host

While tradition states that the groom’s parents should host the wedding rehearsal dinner, you may decide to opt otherwise. If both sets of parents are paying for the wedding, you may decide to host the dinner yourself. Alternatively, you may prefer the bride’s parents to host the dinner. Anything goes so it really comes down to personal preference.

Casual or Formal?

Many couples are now opting for casual themed wedding rehearsal dinners. Having a chill rehearsal dinner at a family or friend’s home is the perfect way to relax with your guests before your wedding ceremony. It also takes the pressure off your preparations and ensures you won’t upstage the main ceremony and reception.

Having a casual wedding rehearsal dinner allows you to be completely flexible about your plans – enjoy a movie, throw a barbecue, wear your jeans.

There are plenty of options to explore, and you can’t go wrong with an easygoing pig-pickin’ or lobster boil held in a backyard or under a tent.

Wedding Rehearsal Dinner Table Settings

If you prefer a more formal setting, either to complement your wedding theme or because you want to enjoy the finer things in life, a formal dinner is a great excuse to get dressed up. If you’re inviting several guests, assigned tables work well.

You can provide ice-breaker tasks to allow your guests to get to know each other better. You could give out fortune cookies, hold a mini quiz or play a game of charades to add a fun aspect to your dinner.


A themed wedding rehearsal dinner can easily tie in with your overall wedding plans. If you’re planning a fun dinner, why not incorporate your cultural background into the festivities. For instance, if you have Spanish heritage you could plan tapas, paella and flamenco dancing.

You could also take the setting into account – if your wedding is at a vineyard, why not host a wine and cheese tasting dinner.

A few more themes to consider include;

  • Sports event – if you’re huge sports fans, a ballgame with a splash of beer, hot dogs, and burgers make a great night.
  • Seaside adventure – seafood at the beach, in front of a bonfire, is the perfect way to spend your pre-wedding celebration.
  • Go country – serve fried chicken, line dance and enjoy a country themed dinner as you celebrate your impending nuptials.
  • Have a picnic – a countryside feast is an ideal way to spend your evening with friends and family. This casual bash is a great way to get closer to your guests.

Where to Hold Your Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

If you want to host a dinner with a twist, consider choosing a unique location. You might want to think about using a local park, bowling alley or restaurant – eateries are a popular idea as you can relax knowing that the staff is taking care of all the hard work.

If you’re on a tight budget, a beach or pretty yard is the perfect choice for your celebration. If the weather permits, an outdoor venue gives your guests the opportunity to unwind and mingle. You don’t need expensive decorations either. Simple DIY décor can enhance the ambiance of your dinner.

Enlighten your guests with the story behind your chosen location. Perhaps its where you and your loved one first met, the location where you had your first date, or where you got engaged.

Guest List

The guest list of any dinner is important. The wedding rehearsal dinner guest list normally includes close family members, loved ones and those participating in the wedding ceremony as well as their partners.

You should also consider inviting guests who are traveling from out of town. If you have a long guest list, you can cut down on costs by hosting a simple affair, such as drinks and canapes rather than a sit-down dinner.


The wedding rehearsal dinner is usually held the night before the ceremony. The rehearsal normally takes place in the late afternoon and lasts between 30 to 45 minutes. The dinner can either immediately follow your rehearsal or can occur an hour or two later, at around 7 or 8 pm.

If your wedding is being held on a Sunday or holiday, you can be slightly more flexible and host your rehearsal a few days before the ceremony. If many of your guests don’t arrive until late, you have the option to host a wedding breakfast instead.

Food and Drink

What’s one of the most important details at your wedding rehearsal dinner? The food!! What you decide to serve up will ultimately depend on your location and theme. The easy option is to host your dinner at an amazing restaurant.

Hosting your dinner elsewhere? Consider some hometown dishes with pizza, burgers, lobster or seafood. Alternatively, infuse an international touch with Greek, Chinese or Indian dishes. Just remember to cater for varying dietary requirements.

For drinks, it’s never too early to break out the champagne! Cocktails, beer, and mixers are also popular beverages. Include a few mocktails or soda water for guests who are abstaining from alcohol.

Don’t Forget the Speech

It’s tradition to welcome your guests to your rehearsal dinner. You may also want to give a short speech or invite others to say a few words. Don’t worry about giving formal speeches – many couples opt for fun toasts to create a relaxing environment!

Share Gifts

Now is the ideal time to present groomsmen gifts and items for your bridesmaids. You may also want to thank both sets of parents and loved ones for their support during your wedding preparations.

Make Any Last-Minute Reminders

Before the end of the evening, make any last-minute reminders about your wedding day. Check that the wedding party knows exactly when and where they are required to be, and that all guests are aware of arrival times. If you’ve arranged transportation, double check the times of collection with your guests.


Your wedding rehearsal dinner is meant to be fun so sit back and enjoy your evening. After all your hard work planning the big day, celebrate with your loved ones and look forward to your special day.

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