After spending all of your time planning the wedding, it’s easy to forget about the rehearsal dinner.
What’s the proper etiquette?
What food should you serve?
How long should it last?
Don’t stress! We are here with 6 easy secrets to help you plan the ultimate rehearsal dinner!
WHO IS SUPPOSED TO PLAN IT?
Before we get started, we need to cover the biggest question most brides have. Who is responsible for planning it?
Traditionally the bride’s family plans and pays for the wedding ceremony, and the groom’s family plans and pays for the rehearsal dinner. The mother of the groom will often organize the evening, arrange the food, and send out the invites. However, this isn’t always the case. Nowadays we see a lot of brides and grooms getting more involved with planning and paying for their own events.
If you’re unsure if your fiance’s family is planning the rehearsal dinner, it’s okay to ask. We recommend having your fiance ask his family casually so they don’t feel any pressure, but this way you can plan in advance and avoid any stressful confusion.
1. Pick the Night for Your Rehearsal Dinner
Most of the time a rehearsal dinner will fall on the night immediately before the wedding and start around 6 p.m. so people have time to get there after work. If it is more advantageous for everyone’s schedules to do it two or three days before your big event, or at a different time, that’s totally fine! Just be sure to check with your wedding venue so they can reserve the space for you.
2. Let Your Guests Know in Advance
You don’t need to send out paper invitations for this event, but we recommend sending out a text or calling people with the dinner rehearsal information at least a week in advance to help people plan. If you have out of town guests you would like to invite, you may want to give them advanced notice so they can arrange their travel plans.
WHO SHOULD I INVITE?
The guest-list for rehearsal dinners is typically very small, only including close family, your officiant, and anyone involved in the wedding ceremony like bridesmaids and groomsmen. You will also want to include their spouses or dates in the invite.
3. Add a Theme to Your Rehearsal Dinner to Spice Things Up
If you are holding the dinner in a private area, why not add a theme to the evening to make things exciting? Here are some of our favorite theme ideas!
Picnic in the Park
Don’t forget to match your food to the theme!
4. Pick the Food
This is the fun part! You have three main dinner options when it comes to choosing the meal for your rehearsal dinner:
You can have somebody cater directly to your wedding venue or location of choice.
This option is great because it means your wedding party doesn’t have to relocate. After you’re done with the ceremony rehearsal, you can simply direct them to another room in the building to eat! If you don’t have the budget for an expensive catered meal, you can always have somebody pickup barbecue or something you can buy in large portions and bring it to the event.
A family member may offer to bring food (or you can ask them and offer to cover expenses).
This is a great, affordable option, and can be extra special for everyone involved. Not only do you get to enjoy a family favorite and share it with your friends, but often the family members who make the food enjoy feeling like they played a special part in your big day! If they weren’t already on the guest-list, be sure to include them to show your thanks.
You can take your wedding party out to your favorite restaurant.
This is perfect if you want a low-stress, easy-to-plan event—all you have to do is pick the restaurant, make a reservation, and your party planning is done! When picking the perfect restaurant, be sure to choose a location that is close to your venue and takes reservations so you don’t end up waiting for a table. Note: it is polite to pick up the check for dinner.
5. Add a Decorative Touch
If you are holding the rehearsal dinner somewhere you can decorate the table, take advantage of this opportunity! You don’t have to do a lot to make it feel special. Even if you are holding the rehearsal dinner at a restaurant, a lot of them will let you arrive a little early to add a few decorative items to the table. Here are some of our favorite simple decor ideas to make your rehearsal dinner shine:
Add photos of the couple to the center of the table
Put a flower or piece of greenery on each place setting with a name card
Bring some fresh flowers to put along the table
Set a card at each place setting that encourages people to leave a note or piece of advice for the happy couple
Choose napkins and plates that match your theme and display them on the table when guests arrive
Add a table runner for a quick touch of elegance
6. Bring Something Special for Your Wedding Party
The rehearsal dinner is a traditional time for the wedding couple to give a small token of appreciation to members of the wedding and parents. These gifts can include something you would like them to wear for the wedding event, like jewelry, or can be anything to help commemorate their role in your wedding. Here are some easy ideas we love!
An engraved bracelet or necklace
A personalized bag or tumbler (like this adorable Friends inspired mug)
A special letter from the heart
A gift card to their favorite restaurant
A framed picture of the two of you
A personalized candle
7. Open the Floor for Toasts
Your rehearsal dinner is a great time to give friends and family the opportunity to make a toast, and a perfect way to make the night extra special! Since rehearsal dinners are typically more intimate gatherings, it’s a great way to hear from family members who wouldn’t be comfortable sharing in front of all of your wedding guests.