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Planning your dream wedding can be fun and exciting.  It can also be stressful and time consuming. From making decisions to figuring out how to pay for everything, there can be a never-ending list of things to do.  The same can be true for the rehearsal dinner but believe it or not, planning the perfect rehearsal dinner can be simple and easy if you follow a few basic guidelines so today we are sharing our best tips for planning the perfect rehearsal dinner.

Rehearsal Dinner Basics

Before we get into the tips, it’s important to understand some basics about these pre-wedding parties.  Traditionally rehearsal dinners are held the night before the wedding and are hosted (paid for by the parents of the groom).  The rehearsal dinner has traditionally been a more formal sit-down dinner and attendees include the immediate families of both the bride and groom as well as the wedding party.

Traditions have changed and today couples are opening up the guest list to out of town guests, other close family and friends and are opting to plan a more personalized event that can be more casual, personal and fun.  As weddings evolve into more of a weekend of events, the rehearsal dinner has become more of a kick-off to the days long festivities. The key, whatever your taste, is to make sure the rehearsal dinner doesn’t outshine the wedding day. Now that you know the basics, let’s jump into our tips for planning the perfect rehearsal dinner.

Added Bonus:  As a special added bonus we’ve created a downloadable checklist available at the bottom of this post to help you plan your perfect rehearsal.


Decide on the basics early.

Because many couples today are paying for much of the wedding on their own, make sure you decide early who will be paying for / hosting the rehearsal.  Knowing this will help you determine your budget for the rehearsal and this often drives the type of even couple plan.

In addition to deciding who will be hosting the event, you should also decide on the formality you want as well as a theme.  For example, a couple wishing to keep things casual may opt for a fun outside bar-b-q at a family home or a pizza and beer bash at a favorite local pizzeria.

If you want something more formal, maybe planning your rehearsal at the restaurant where you had your first date would be more appropriate and sentimental.  The key is to have fun and be creative.

Establish the Guest List

Once you have a general picture of what your rehearsal dinner will look like, it’s time to make your guest list.  As a general rule, immediate family and the wedding party (and their families) should be included, but depending on your preferences you may also want to include other family and friends, out-of-town guests, etc.

Figure out the Timing

Depending on the details of your wedding ceremony, you will likely need to coordinate the time of the rehearsal with your officiant and venue.  As a general rule, the ceremony rehearsal can take 30 minutes to an hour.  Get an idea from your officiant how long rehearsals typically take.

With that in mind,  depending on the location of the rehearsal dinner you will need to plan accordingly for timing of each event.  Make sure you have this figured out before finalizing anything with venues or caterers.


Decide on the Rehearsal Dinner Activities

Traditionally rehearsal dinners include toasts, the giving of gifts to the wedding party and some couples also opt to give gifts to parents or others as a thank you.  It is best to decide on these things in advance so that you can notify anyone of your wish for them to give a toast as well as plan for the gifts you wish to present.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to plan too many toasts.  This can take a lot of time and typically toasts are given at the reception the day of the wedding as well so there is no need to have a toast given by everyone.

Order and Mail Rehearsal Invitations

Rehearsal invitations aren’t required but strongly recommended especially if you are inviting anyone other than parents, siblings and the wedding party.  Have no fear though. These invitations do not have to be anything fancy or expensive. Some couples even include these in their wedding invitations to those that are invited to both which save them money on postage.

As a general rule though, rehearsal invitations should be mailed out to guests 4-6 weeks before the wedding or shortly after the wedding invitations go out.

What to Wear

What you wear to your rehearsal and rehearsal dinner should coincide with the formality of the dinner but no matter what you want to look great.  Photos will be taken and as the kick-off to your big day, you want it to be memorable. Consider something white so you look like a bride.


Hopefully these six tips will help you know what to do to plan the perfect rehearsal dinner to kick off your wedding festivities.  As promised, we have created an extra bonus for you to make this process even easier. This Rehearsal Dinner Planning Checklist helps you organize your tasks and know exactly what to do and when so that you can plan your rehearsal dinner stress-free!

Click here to download!

If you have any questions about rehearsal dinners, email us or leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you.  Maybe you’ll inspire a future post too!