Getting ready to plan a fabulous rehearsal dinner ahead of your best day ever? Having a fabulous rehearsal dinner is all about the experience! And there are a few factors to consider when building out a fully immersive experience. In this post, we’ll go over the where, when, who, and what of planning an amazing rehearsal dinner with unexpected elements!
Where to Host Your Rehearsal Dinner
- At a local restaurant
- The home of a loved one
- In your backyard
One of the biggest considerations to make when choosing a spot for your rehearsal dinner is finding a spot with amazing food & drinks! Nothing will love up on your guests more for the night than tantalizing their palate with deelish bites and crafted cocktails! Also, the other thing you’ll need to consider is the location! Your guests will be driving from your ceremony site to dinner, so you want to keep the distance between the two easily manageable and preferably under 10 miles. Especially for those out-of-town guests of yours.
We personally love hosting rehearsal dinners at local restaurants that have private dining room options. In fact, if you’re getting married in one of the amazing cities listed below, click the link for a list of our favorite local spots. Of course, the restaurant you choose will drive your menu. Do you want to have pizza and IPA, a seafood boil at home, or the best Italian food that the city has to offer? Maybe your hometown boasts some local favorites that you can’t wait to share with your out-of-town guests! Keep in mind that your rehearsal dinner is a great way to show off your fun side by treating guests to your favorite eats!
In addition to your favorite eats, it’s all about showing off your personality. Maybe your vibe is more backyard BBQ than Asian Fusion in a private space downtown. Or, it might just be that your favorite aunt has an amazing house that she’s offered up for your rehearsal dinner and you can’t wait to have a food truck roll up! Whatever your vibe, the place that feels most true to who you are as a couple will always win out.
Rehearsal Dinner Locations by City!
When to Hold Your Rehearsal Dinner
- Rehearsal dinners are typically held the night before the wedding
- But they can also be planned 1-2 weeks before the date of the wedding
Having a wedding rehearsal is so important for a few reasons. The whole idea is to run through what your wedding ceremony will look like once the big day arrives. From who walks down the aisle and when, to the specifics of your ceremony order, and small details like where to stand. Your rehearsal should cover all of the above in addition to any unique elements you’ve added to your day. Practicing your ceremony in advance will take away some of those wedding day nerves you’re feeling!
Secondly, there are so many moving parts to a wedding ceremony. Aside from you and your partner, there’s your wedding party, family members, ceremony music, officiant, and having your guests seated & comfortable on time. Not to mention, everything will be photographed and videoed as it’s happening! Clear direction and communication ahead of time will make your wedding day run smoothly, without worry, and with an enhanced guest experience!
But, when does rehearsal need to take place? “Typically” a rehearsal dinner happens the night before the wedding. We say typically because, of course, there are several considerations to make that will factor into your planning. You could be hosting a fab weekday wedding. Or, your ceremony site may only offer up space for your rehearsal at a specific date and time. One that does not perfectly align the night before your wedding. Lastly, you could be hosting an early morning or brunch wedding, in which case, hosting a rehearsal dinner the night before is not ideal for getting the amount of rest you need before the big day! In any of these scenarios, it’s perfectly acceptable to host your rehearsal and dinner the weekend before or even a week or two before the date of your wedding!
Who To Invite
- Each member of the wedding party & their plus ones
- Immediate family
- Close extended family
- Out-of-town guests
- Your officiant or clergy member
So who gets an invite to your rehearsal dinner? Do you have to invite your entire guest list? No, definitely not. But if your budget allows for it, or you’re having an international destination wedding, then by all means, go for it! However, if you’re getting married a little closer to home you can absolutely keep the guest list more scaled down. Those receiving an invitation to your rehearsal dinner should include anyone in your wedding party, including any littles you have who are fulfilling the role of flower sprinkling, ring-bearing, or jr. wedding party member!
Your wedding party members would also typically bring along their plus one. Next up to receive an invitation would be your immediate family such as parents, siblings, and grandparents. After that would be extended but close family members like that favorite aunt or uncle of yours! Out-of-town guests who have traveled in just to attend your wedding should also receive an invite. Lastly, will be your officiant or clergy member. Of course, these are mere suggestions and it will completely be up to you & your partner to decide who gets an official invite!
Now that you’ve narrowed down your list of attendees, how do you actually invite them to your rehearsal and the dinner to follow? Rehearsal dinner invites are not nearly as formal as your wedding invitation suite. There’s no need to request an RSVP or even to send out a formally printed invitation for that matter. If you want to keep the actual invitation low-key, a phone call to your guests asking them to attend is more than enough. Want to drum up excitement beforehand? You can absolutely send out a fun, on-theme paper or evite invitation to your guests and follow up with a call or text!
What Happens at a Rehearsal Dinner
- Dinner, drink, and dessert service
- Toasts & Speeches
- Pass out gifts to the wedding party
- Thank you gifts to parents if applicable
“What happens at a rehearsal dinner?” Aside from all the rehearsing and no doubt amazing food and drinks you’ve planned for your rehearsal dinner, what goes down? A few things, actually! By the time you get to dinner, your rehearsal will be done, creating a fun breakout time to enjoy an amazing dinner with your guests. Following dinner and drinks, a rehearsal dinner is often where the “groom’s” cake is served. However, for those not having a “groom’s” cake, an equally amazing dessert service, of your choice, is a great way to end the night. In addition to all the dining and merriment a couple of elements will keep the night rolling along as well!
The first will be any toasts or speeches to the nearlyweds. If the parents of one of the nearlyweds are hosting the rehearsal dinner, they will be the first to provide words of love to the couple. From there, any members of the wedding party should feel free to stand and raise their glass to the couple.
If you’re not really a couple who loves the idea of sitting down while all your friends and family stand up to tell stories about you, you can kick off the dinner service with a quick thank you speech. The next detail to take care of at your rehearsal dinner will be to pass out any gifts that you’ve purchased or had made for your wedding party or parents. It’ll be especially important to pass these out ahead of your wedding day if they are wearable items to have on hand for the wedding day!
Fun Elements to Add to Your Rehearsal Dinner
- Don’t skip entertainment
- A fun theme
- Photo and or video montage
- Pub crawl after dinner
Looking for an amazing way to round off your rehearsal dinner experience? Do not skip entertainment, of any kind! Entertainment so often gets overlooked when it comes to wedding rehearsal dinners and we’re not really here for it. We love couples who up-level their events with entertainment, fun themes, photo booths, games, or even an after-party! Yes, you can have an after-party for your rehearsal dinner. As long as you are not getting married the following morning of course. Who’s to say that your rehearsal dinner can’t include a round of bowling, corn hole, skee ball, darts, trivia, or even an escape room? Nobody! A diner is only an experience when you take it to the next level which involves interactive elements to pull you and your guests in for absolute enjoyment!