How to Plan a Rehearsal Dinner

The rehearsal dinner is becoming a part of the wedding that is almost as important as the wedding ceremony and the wedding reception. The idea is relatively simple, it’s just having dinner with the wedding party after the run-through. 

There are many unanswered questions such as who to invite, how extravagant the event should be and when should the event be held. Although there are no right or wrong answers to these questions, there are many protocols that have come to be accepted by many.

The rehearsal dinner is about the couple and can be the prime occasion to catch up with their nearest and dearest before the whirlwind of the big day.

Who do you invite to a rehearsal dinner?

The question of who to invite to the rehearsal dinner is one that varies per couple. You might want to keep it small and intimate, or if you prefer to invite those who have travelled from a distance it is a great opportunity for some quality time to talk to them properly.

Many people have different ideas about who should be invited and as a result, each rehearsal dinner that you attend tends to have a different group of wedding participants.

The idea of a rehearsal dinner is to treat those who will be participating in your wedding after you run through the proceedings. This leads to the logical conclusion that you should only invite those who are participating in the wedding to the rehearsal dinner. While this may seem logical, it is rarely the case.

In most cases, the minimum guests include the immediate families of the bride and the groom and the members of the bridal party like the bridesmaids, groomsmen and best man. The rehearsal dinner, however, does not have to be limited to these guests. Many soon to be wed couples expand their guest list to include out of town guests.

This is a wonderful gesture especially since many of your guests may have travelled great distances to be with you on your wedding day. You do not have to invite the out of town guests to the actual rehearsal but you could have them meet you at the restaurant for the dinner portion of the rehearsal dinner.

How to Plan a Rehearsal Dinner

Another question that is not so easy to answer is how extravagant the wedding should be. Many couples like to throw a rehearsal dinner that is in contrast to their reception so that the two events are distinguishable.

If you are planning an opulent wedding reception you might want to consider having a casual rehearsal dinner. Conversely, if your wedding reception plans are on the casual side, you could consider making the rehearsal dinner more of a formal event. The rehearsal dinner can range anywhere from a backyard barbeque to a multi-course meal at an elegant restaurant.

When is the rehearsal dinner?

Finally, the question of when to hold the rehearsal dinner is one that many couples need answering before they begin their plans. Conventional wisdom says it takes place the night before the wedding but this does not have to be the case.

If the majority of the guests are local and it would not be a burden on them, you might consider holding the rehearsal dinner a few days before the event. This gives the couple more of a chance to relax on the night before their wedding instead of having to worry about entertaining guests.

Since the rehearsal dinner is relatively new, many couples do not fully understand the etiquette involved with this tradition. Wondering who to invite, when to hold it and how formal to make the rehearsal dinner are just a few of the questions that many couples struggle with when planning.

Fortunately, the traditions of the rehearsal dinner are not deeply rooted and therefore there is a great deal of flexibility in how you plan it to suit you.

What is a rehearsal dinner?
A rehearsal dinner is a party held before the wedding ceremony for the bride and groom.

It is not an obligatory part of a wedding ceremony but is becoming more common in some countries. It may be hosted by either or both families or friends, and often includes the same participants as the wedding reception.

It is a more intimate and reflective occasion than a traditional celebratory wedding dinner. In many cases, it takes place on the evening before the wedding, being usually held at a private home rather than at a restaurant.

What do you wear to the rehearsal dinner?
Usually these are relaxed affairs, so unless you have been led to believe anything different smart casual attire is the best option.