Rehearsal Dinner 101: Everything You Need to Know

Featured Cover Image: Justin DeMutiis Photography

Here is everything you need to know about your wedding rehearsal dinner, from whom to invite to where to have it.

What is it?

Traditionally, the purpose of the rehearsal dinner is for the relatives and close friends of the bride and groom to meet and have a good time. Introductions are made, toasts are given and the couple will usually take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped with the wedding preparations.

When is it?

The rehearsal dinner is traditionally held after the wedding rehearsal and the night before the wedding ceremony, often on a Friday, and usually starts at about 7pm.

Who hosts and pays?

It’s tradition for the groom’s parents to host and pay for the rehearsal dinner. However, in today’s day and age, tradition is usually the road less taken.  Sometimes the bride and groom will cover the rehearsal dinner costs themselves, or they may even ask both sets of parents to cover the costs.

Who's invited?

Usually, the rehearsal dinner guest list includes the couple’s immediate families, wedding party members and their spouses or significant others. However, many times it’s common for couples to invite out-of-town guests.

How formal should the rehearsal dinner be?

This again is up to you and your soon to be spouse. However, the key point is not to let the rehearsal dinner’s formality exceed the formality of the actual wedding.

Where should the dinner be held?

With all the chaos of wedding planning, the chaos of the day before and assuming the chaos of the morning of, you should strive to keep the rehearsal dinner simple. Many people choose a restaurant with a private room, someone’s house/backyard, or even somewhere as casual as a pizza parlor. Regardless of where it’s held, the dinner should be somewhere people can mingle and have a good time. If most of your dinner guests are staying at the hotel, opt for a restaurant nearby so that transportation can be easily arranged.

Important moments not to miss:

  • Toasts: Whoever is the host can welcome the guests with a formal (or not so formal) toast. The best man can also make a toast, along with anyone else who may have a few loving words to say. During this dinner, you and your fiance may want to take the time to make a little speech thanking your hosts and toasting to each other. The toasts on this night may be a little more casual and humorous than the ones at your wedding.
  • Gifts: Your wedding party has dedicated time, effort, love and money to be a part of your crew so this is the perfect occasion to hand out a thank you gift for these special friends, especially if it’s a gift you want them to wear or use at the wedding.
  • Special Presentations: You may want to include a video or slideshow to share with your guests on how far you and your fiancé have come since your first date. While the mood is light, who wouldn’t want to laugh at some old photos of you two?

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