Your Guide to Planning a Rehearsal Dinner

Get tips on planning the last event before the big day.

The rehearsal dinner tends to be less structured – we’ve seen everything from formal banquets to casual crab cookouts on the beach. Read our dos and don’ts.

Photo: Maya Myers Photography

In the midst of planning a wedding, there are also the pre-nuptial events to think about. Typically you would not be involved in the organizing of your bridal shower or bachelorette party, but the rehearsal dinner is another story. Traditionally, it is hosted by the parents of the groom, but of course that doesn’t mean that applies to every couple. Even if your future in-laws are able to pay for the dinner, they might need help with actual planning and hosting duties, especially if your nuptials are not in a city in which they live. 

The rehearsal dinner tends to be less structured in terms style – we’ve seen everything from formal banquets to casual crab cookouts on the beach. However, there are some matters of planning and etiquette no matter what kind of rehearsal dinner you have. Read our dos and don’ts of planning a rehearsal dinner, below. 

The Dos and Don'ts of a Rehearsal Dinner

Do be consistent with the guest list.

The bridal party and immediate family is a given, but if you include extended family members or out-of-town guests, it should be equal on both sides. However, this doesn't necessarily mean the sides need to be equal in number, as you can’t control how many cousins you each have, but if your aunts and uncles are invited, your sweetheart’s aunts and uncles should be invited as well. 

Don’t assume people know they are invited.

Even if you have to invite guests in a super casual way, such as with a text message, your rehearsal dinner guests need to know when and where a rehearsal dinner is so they can plan their travels for the wedding weekend accordingly. Make it clear on the invitation to avoid any confusion!

Do be considerate of people’s time.

While you may feel like you have too much to do the night before your wedding, one reason that’s the traditional time for a rehearsal dinner is because it’s easiest for those traveling from out of town. If everybody is local, things are more flexible.

Don’t feel pressured about the dinner style.

As long as you and your beloved are on the same page, the meal can be any level of formality you want. However, like the wedding, it is important to accommodate the dietary restrictions of your guests.

Do embrace people’s desire to toast.

Too many speeches at your wedding reception can drown on, but there usually isn’t much else for entertainment at a rehearsal dinner, so this is a great time to get it out of everyone’s system. 

Don’t go too wild.

Eating and drinking with friends and family is a great time, but with the wedding typically the very next day, you don’t want to overdo it and feel bloated, hungover, or even extra tired on what’s supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life.