Traditionally, rehearsal dinner is hosted by the parents of the groom. Both families are invited, as well as the wedding party. It is held the night before the wedding and the event is a formal affair. These days, rehearsal dinners are much more casual and more intimate. Here are the instructions on how to plan the rehearsal dinner.

How To Plan A Rehearsal Dinner


Decide who is hosting the rehearsal dinner. Traditionally, parents of the bride pay for the wedding, while parents of the groom pay for the rehearsal dinner. These days, rules aren’t so strict. If both sets of parents are paying for the wedding, bride and groom should pay for the rehearsal dinner.

Keep it casual

Many couples are making the rehearsal dinner low-key and relaxed. If you have a family member or a friend who is willing to let you use their patio, consider planning the outdoor rehearsal dinner. Guests who are meeting for the first time won’t feel the pressure at the casual rehearsal dinner. Also, a dress code can come down a notch. To encourage conversation between guests, have a open seating instead of assigned tables.


Choose a theme that is fun: barbecue (grilled feast and a game of softball), seaside (clams and lobsters at sunset), first date (hold the rehearsal dinner at the site of your first date), tacos (food truck and a backyard fiesta).


Host the rehearsal dinner at a unique location. Consider venues like a beer garden, bowling alley, winery, local park. Restaurants are also a great choice – the staff can handle cocktails, menu and music.

Guest list

Close family members should be invited. Also, invite everyone who participates in the wedding ceremony (don’t forget the officiant), their dates and spouses. It’s considerate to invite the guests who came from out of town. If the guest list is too long, keep the costs down by serving only cocktails and desserts instead of a full meal.


Traditionally, rehearsal dinner is held the night before the wedding. The ceremony rehearsal usually begins at 5:30PM and lasts 30-45 minutes. After the rehearsal, around 7PM, the dinner takes place. Some couples have the rehearsal dinner two nights before the wedding – so everyone has more time to relax before the wedding day.


The easiest way to plan a menu is to host the rehearsal dinner at your favorite restaurant. If you’re introducing the out of town guests to a local cuisine, serve hometown meals.


At the beginning of the rehearsal dinner, the host should welcome guests. Guests will probably want to give a toast. Bride and groom should also make a short speech (right after the host or at the end of the evening).


Give gifts to the wedding party members. Thank the parents for their guidance, love and support.

Last minute reminders

At the end of the evening, make announcements about the wedding day. Check if wedding party members know when and where they are expected to arrive. Also, check if they know what items to bring. Remind the guests about activities, pick up times and locations for transportation.

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