Rehearsal Dinner 101

Liz Fogarty Photography

Your rehearsal dinner is a great way to celebrate your upcoming wedding with close friends and family. It’s usually the kick-off to your wedding weekend and follows your ceremony rehearsal.


You should start planning your rehearsal dinner four to five months before your wedding. Although not to the same degree as your wedding day, you’ll need to make a plan for your rehearsal dinner. Along with booking your location ahead of time, you’ll also need to send out invitations, plan a menu and create an itinerary for the event. Your itinerary should have time for speeches, presenting your wedding party with gifts, time to watch a slideshow of you and your fiancé, and anything else you want to include.


We’ve broken down what you need to know about planning your rehearsal dinner.

Molly Majher Photography

Who Attends the Rehearsal Dinner?


Anyone who is part of your wedding ceremony should be invited to your rehearsal dinner – bridesmaids, groomsmen, celebrant, ushers, and readers – as well as parents, grandparents, and siblings. You may also extend an invitation to out-of-town guests who are arriving in town the evening before your wedding.


When it comes to invitations, you can choose to go the formal route and mail invitations to your rehearsal dinner. Because it is usually a more casual event, an e-vite or phone call is also OK. Give your guests at least a month’s notice.


Who Hosts the Event?


Traditionally the groom’s family hosts the rehearsal dinner. However, that doesn’t mean the expense can’t be shared by the couple’s parents or the couple themselves. There are no hard and fast rules here. Even another family member or a set of friends can serve as the host.

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Where is the Rehearsal Dinner Held?


A rehearsal dinner is often held in a banquet room or private space at an area restaurant. You can also opt for a family home or an outdoor location. If you’re renting your venue for the entire weekend you can host your dinner right there. This is especially convenient if you and your guests are staying overnight on the property.

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What Do You Wear to a Rehearsal Dinner?


The same way your wedding dress reflects your venue, your rehearsal dinner attire should match your dinner venue style. For example, a sundress is a great option for a BBQ event, while a cocktail dress is more suited for an elegant rehearsal location.


Find styles that are different from your wedding dress. It’s a great time to showcase your style and wear a trend you currently love.


While you can certainly wear white to your rehearsal dinner, you don’t have to. You can go for a bold color, or a printed option instead. You also aren’t required to don a dress. A dressy jumpsuit is also a good choice.

Molly Majher Photography

Give it a Personal Touch


A rehearsal dinner doesn’t have to be cookie-cutter. You’ve put your personality into your wedding, do the same for your dinner. Include your favorite hobbies, foods, or a nod to your love story in the evening.


Your event doesn’t have to be dinner. Opt for a rehearsal brunch or lunch instead, especially if your ceremony venue is only available for a morning rehearsal. Bruch is often a hit with guests and offers something a little different from the norm. The beauty of hosting your rehearsal events earlier is you have time in the late afternoon and evening to relax before your big day.


Your dinner also doesn’t have to be the night before your wedding. You can hold it a couple of nights ahead of time, and greet out-of-town guests with a different event, like welcome drinks at your venue or a local restaurant.


Things to Remember


Keep the evening short. This is not the time for an all-nighter. Enjoy your celebration, and then get to bed early enough so you feel refreshed on your wedding day.


Your wedding day will be a whirlwind, and you might not have time to share a special moment with those closest to you. Your rehearsal dinner is a good time to take time with each person there.

Also, keep in mind that the event might be more emotional than your wedding day. While that sounds hard to believe, you’ll have close friends and family with you at your rehearsal dinner. You’ll feel the love, laugh a lot, and feel more relaxed.

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