How to Plan a Rehearsal Dinner

A wedding involves other events; for example, some couples organize an engagement party, bridal shower, bachelor and bachelorette party, and the list goes on. But one traditional event is the rehearsal dinner. This event has an important role in ensuring things go as planned during your ceremony.

Follow our steps & plan your rehearsal dinner effortlessly

Rehearsal dinners happen the day before your wedding, and they gather all your friends and close family. The formality and size of your rehearsal will entirely depend on your preferences. Rehearsals might sound complicated, but they can be organized with less stress. So continue reading our article and be prepared to plan your pre-festivity dinner.

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Traditionally, rehearsal dinners are a formal event thrown by either the parents of the groom or both families. Sometimes even the bridal party or out of town guests can host this event. This dinner includes pre-ceremony run-through so everyone knows their places during the ceremony. Besides including a rehearsal it is followed by a dinner.

Rehearsal dinners exist to practice the ceremony happening the next day

Nowadays, couples are the ones who plan the rehearsal dinner. The guest list still includes all the important people. How formal you decide to make this event is totally up to you. For example, it could be strictly a ceremony rehearsal or be an opportunity to have some fun after rehearsing!

Whichever you choose, you should be comfortable with the decision. You can go either casual, traditional, or formal. Now let us get into the details of planning the event.

Write Your Guest List

All those who participate in any way during your ceremony should be invited. Your guest list should include your close family, bridal party, readers & ushers. Also consider inviting any out of town guests to your rehearsal. They are traveling long distances and may be in town for the weekend. Sending them an invitation is a nice thoughtful way of showing your appreciation for their attendance.

Traditions have changed over time, and now couples are more flexible with the guest list. Sometimes they include close friends and family members who are not participating in the ceremony. This is up to you and your budget.

Choose Your Location

The size of your party will determine the location of your rehearsal dinner. Small groups could easily fit in a private room of a restaurant or a family property. For larger events, a hotel or wedding venue could work. Always keep in mind distance and accessibility when choosing the venue, especially if you invite guests from out of town; consider the hotel where they are staying to choose the location. A 15 minute traveling distance is an ideal amount of time for out of town guest to travel from their hotel to your location.

Determine Who Will Host

Determine who is the host and who is paying for the rehearsal dinner before inviting everyone. This is a personal choice and it depends on how traditional you are. You could take care of the expenses, have one family pay for the bill or share it between families. There are no written rules, but if you follow tradition and the bride’s family is paying for the wedding, it is expected for the groom’s family to pay and host the rehearsal dinner. But as we said before, traditions change and you can do it your way.


Most rehearsal dinners are simple and intimate. We suggest you choose a theme and add personal touches to your venue. This is a wedding-related event with less formality. You can choose a fun or meaningful theme. For example, a taco fiesta, a culture-related theme, barbecue party, or picnic evening.

Suppose you do not want to dive to deep into the theme and decor for your rehearsal dinner. Then we recommend getting some DIY rentals to spice up your event. You can get string lights for wedding rental, a simple way to add personality and warmth to your space. And you can also rent a chuppah canopy for the ceremony rehearsal. It will give you the feel of actually being at your ceremony without the associated cost of hiring a draping company.


Rehearsal dinners are less formal than weddings. This gives you more flexible with how you invite your guests. For example, you can make a digital invitation, send it as an email or even make phone calls. Let everyone know about your plans at least four weeks beforehand. This way they can plan accordingly and be there ready to practice at your rehearsal dinner.


It is ideal to have a schedule for your rehearsal dinner. You wan to cover all the important activities, have a great time and most importantly keep it short. You have a big day the following morning your guests need to get a good night sleep. You will more than likely host your rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding. This is tradition but also so everyone remembers what they practiced.

Start with your actual rehearsal

– Plan who will enter first
– Time the readings
– Let everyone know where they should be
– How they should enter
– How they should exit

Once the rehearsal of your ceremony is over, it’s time for dinner. We recommend starting with a speech thanking everyone for their involvement. Afterwards you can present gifts for your bridal party and parents. Then it is time to have fun and relax before the big day arrives.

Plan a Meaningful Menu

After your rehearsal everyone will be hungry. Take the opportunity to offer a special menu that you, your partner, and family hold close to their heart. Then, complement it with fun drinks to make it a whole experience for your guests. Even if it is an intimate and casual gathering, you can add personal touches so this is remembered as a special moment.

Most Importantly Have Fun

Take a moment to thank everyone for being there and for being during the entire process. It hasn’t been easy getting to this point. You’ve planned the whole wedding and even practiced the formalities. Take a moment to soak up the love of your life, your family and your friends. This is a once in a lifetime moment and the last time you will have dinner as a single person 😃

- XO Team Ship

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