Planning the Perfect Wedding Rehearsal Dinner
Posted on: November 5, 2018

Planning the Perfect Wedding Rehearsal Dinner


The official kickoff to your wedding weekend is the rehearsal dinner. It’s the time that you get to invite your closest family and friends to celebrate and anticipate what’s to come. Traditionally, the rehearsal dinner is meant to thank your family and bridal party for participating in the rehearsal — typically scheduled immediately before a dinner hosted by the couple — and to hand out gifts to those who have made your wedding possible. If you’re in the early stages of the rehearsal dinner planning process, let us help you orchestrate a dreamy special event with all the bells and whistles to set the stage for your coming nuptials.

The Guestlist

The most common question to arise during this phase of the planning process is “Who is invited to the rehearsal dinner?” Like any event you host, you are in charge of the guest list — invite as few or as many people as you’d like. Usually, though, the rehearsal dinner is meant for those closest to the wedding, including the newlyweds-to-be, immediate family members, the entire bridal party, ceremony readers, and the officiant. Essentially, you should be prepared to invite everyone who partakes in the ceremony portion of your wedding to the rehearsal dinner. If it’s in the budget, it’s a nice (and often expected) gesture to invite the significant others of bridal party and family members as well.

The Venue, Date, and Logistics

Knowing the date and the number of people you’re planning to host will help you in narrowing down a venue. Be sure that you choose an elegant, intimate venue if you’re having a large wedding. This will help ensure that you get one-on-one time with everyone involved, which may not be a top priority while you’re tying the knot. When scouting rehearsal dinner venues, make sure that your date is open. Often, we have brides and grooms request to have their rehearsal dinner two days before the wedding, such as a Thursday evening for a Saturday wedding.

Booking an early rehearsal dinner allows for one day of recovery in between the rehearsal and the wedding, which may be helpful if you expect both to be rousing parties or if you simply want to space things out so that the weekend isn’t totally all-consuming. It also opens up more dates if you have a popular, often-booked venue in mind. Just be sure to consider that out-of-town guests will probably only plan to take off for a long weekend, so asking them to arrive sooner than expected may be a bit of an issue. If your plan is to host the dinner early, let everyone know as soon as it’s booked.

Photography by Binita Patel Photography

A good rehearsal dinner venue is one that will work hard to capture your unique vision, whether it’s a laid-back, buffet-style affair or an upscale soiree with plated entrees and butler-passed hors d’oeuvres. We love to see couples organize their rehearsal dinner around a single table, especially a long dining table. After all, there are only a few times in your life when you get to host and cater a dinner for all of your favorite people, so it helps if you’re able to share in it together rather than seating everyone at different tables. If this is something you envision, be sure to put it on your list of non-negotiables when touring venues.

The Food

The final piece of the rehearsal dinner planning process is the food. Along with the venue and the guestlist, the menu is the most important part of the day. It’s called the rehearsal dinner, of course! The key to designing your perfect rehearsal dinner menu is to be sure that you showcase some of your favorite items, especially desserts and cocktails, for a personalized flair. To keep it exciting, try to have your rehearsal dinner food vary from the food you’ll serve on the wedding day — keep it fresh!

Photography by Binita Patel Photography

We often recommend that soon-to-be-married couples start with a suggested rehearsal dinner menu and then spice things up through a signature drink, dessert feature, or bar. If you’d like a more laid-back feel, you can coordinate a reception-style event with food stations and passed hors d’oeuvres rather than having a formal sit-down dinner. This creates the perfect ambiance for plenty of mingling and enjoying time with friends and family.


Tying it All Together

The key to throwing a well-orchestrated rehearsal dinner is to make it special, intimate, and personalized without adding any additional stress to your wedding planning checklist. Choosing the right venue — one with a helpful events coordinator and a flexible, creative kitchen — is the key to all of this, so choose yours with care!