The Rehearsal Dinner

An extremely important part of the pre-wedding activities, the rehearsal dinner is the perfect time for you to express your gratitude to those close family members and friends who have helped throughout the planning of your wedding. It is also a great opportunity to just relax and have fun with your close family and friends before the stress of the wedding day.  Below is some useful information regarding what is expected at a rehearsal dinner, who is expected to host it, and some helpful tips that will make the process run smoothly and be relatively stress-free.

What is the rehearsal dinner?

The wedding party generally practices the wedding ceremony at the site the day before the wedding. This allows everyone a chance to know what is expected of them, where they should stand, and iron out any last minute details before the big day. After the ceremony rehearsal, it is customary for the groom's parents to host a rehearsal dinner. This has traditionally been held for the wedding party, their significant others and the parents of the bride and groom. Lately there is a new trend of expanding the guest list to include out of town guests and others who have helped with the planning of the wedding. There are no hard and fast rules. Discuss the invitation list with your fiancé as well as how formal you would like for your rehearsal dinner to be. If you would like a formal gathering, a nice restaurant is often a logical choice. If you would prefer a more relaxed and friendly atmosphere, many couples host the rehearsal dinner at their home. 

Step by step instructions

  1. Discuss the rehearsal dinner with the groom's parents as it is tradition that they host the dinner. Many couples decide to host the event themselves; however, you should discuss this with them first in order to avoid hurt feelings.
  2. You should plan to have the dinner the day before the wedding, immediately following the ceremony rehearsal. As it is the night before the wedding, you and your bridal party and family should be in town and available.
  3. Invite your guests. For a small, intimate gathering, you do not need official invitations. If you have decided to expand the guest list, invitations may help you keep track of who you are inviting and who is attending. Remember to include the immediate families of the bride and groom and each member of the bridal party and their significant other. It is also customary to invite to officiant, as well.
  4. Choose a dinner format that reflects the atmosphere you would like to create. Do you want your event to be formal (such as a sit down dinner) or relaxed and casual (such as family style service or a buffet)? Remember to include time for your guests to socialize so they can have fun and relax before the wedding.
  5. At the dinner itself, remember to toast the parents of the bride and groom. This is an excellent opportunity for you to express your gratitude for all their help. Sometimes a small gift or favor is also given to those invited to show your appreciate for their love and support. For fabulous ideas on favors, go to

Tips and Warnings

The rehearsal dinner is an important, but also a fun pre-wedding activity. However, there are a few tips that can help you avoid potential pitfalls. Always remember to discuss who is invited to the rehearsal dinner with your fiancé and both sets of parents. You don't want to forget someone important, especially so close to the wedding. If you have out of town guests, plan to invite them so they know how much you appreciate the efforts they made to attend your wedding. And finally, be careful that you do not assume the groom's parents will host the dinner. If they aren't prepared to contribute, have a back up plan.  As with every aspect of your wedding, make sure you stay true to yourself and your fiancé and have fun. If you follow these simple steps, you are sure to have a fantastic rehearsal dinner which will set everyone in the right mood for a wonderful wedding day.