What Is A Rehearsal Dinner? Some Ideas To Plan This Event

Unique ways to ace your special function and make it memorable for all.

Reviewed by Roberta Torresan, Wedding Planner & Designer Roberta Torresan Roberta TorresanWedding Planner & Designer facebook_icontwitter_iconlinkedin_iconyoutube_iconinsta_icon
Written by , Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach Sneha Tete Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 4 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Madhumati Chowdhury MA (English Literature) Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , MA Gracia Odile MA Experience: 3 years

The big day is just around the corner, and preparations are in full swing. A host of ceremonies are on the itinerary that will lead up to the grand wedding. These ceremonies offer lovely opportunities to create unforgettable memories with your loved ones that will remain etched in your hearts forever. However, it takes careful planning and practice to ensure everything is picture perfect and nothing is left to chance. This is where wedding rehearsal comes into play.

A wedding rehearsal is traditionally held a day before the wedding ceremony and is considered a final run-through before the main event. But what happens after wrapping up the rehearsal? Well, it is time to kick off the ‘party before the party’ with the customary rehearsal dinner. Read on to know everything about a rehearsal dinner.

What Is A Rehearsal Dinner?

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The wedding rehearsal dinner sets the mood for the much-awaited wedding ceremony and creates an ecstatic ambiance that leaves the guests craving more. Besides being a precursor to the grand celebration, a rehearsal dinner is an exciting way to kick off the wedding weekend with people who mean the world to the bride and groom.

If you are wondering what the purpose of a rehearsal dinner is and if it feels like an unnecessary appendage to the main ceremony, let us remind you what noted philosopher Alan Watts said: “The meaning and purpose of dancing is the dance. Like music also, it is fulfilled in each moment of its course. You do not play a sonata in order to reach the final chord and if the meaning of things were simply in ends, composers would write nothing but finales.”

Therefore, it is not just the ending that matters. A rehearsal dinner offers the perfect opportunity for the relatives and friends of the couple to meet and greet and enjoy a good time before being swept away by the wedding day chaos. What can be a better way to unite, reflect, and engage in beautiful conversations if not over food and wine and good music?

Like every other pre-wedding ceremony, this, too, has its code of conduct. From picking the right location and inviting the guests to preparing heartfelt rehearsal speeches, there are several activities for rehearsal dinner. Here’s a detailed guideline to help map out your rehearsal dinner and turn it into a memorable event.

Who Attends The Rehearsal Dinner?

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While the list is drawn up by the couple who invites close acquaintances and friends, a few pointers are centered around the tradition. Ideally, not every wedding guest is meant to be at the wedding-eve dinner party. The groom’s family hosts the rehearsal dinner, and the attendees consist of bridesmaids and groomsmen, immediate family, and people who participated in the wedding rehearsal. Also, the officiant and their spouse and a reader or usher may be added to the list.

However, not everything ought to be bound by tradition. Sometimes, out-of-town guests who have traveled in for the wedding are also invited. This is a good moment to interact a little more and thank them for becoming a part of the big day.

Who Pays For The Wedding Rehearsal Dinner?

The groom and his family are in charge of planning, hosting, and paying for the rehearsal dinner. However, the rules have relaxed a little with time, and the event may now be financed by:

  • Either of the two families
  • Jointly by both the families
  • The bride and groom themselves

Everything boils down to the overall rehearsal dinner cost and what is agreed upon by both parties. The group that has spent the least on the entire wedding can cover the expenses of the pre-wedding bash so that the financial responsibilities are equally shared, and no one feels stretched.

While you may be aware of the preparations, financial budget, and guest list for your rehearsal dinner, knowing how long it should ideally last is also important. You do not wish to tire out your guests but make the moment memorable as well. So, scroll down as we answer the common question below!

How Long Does A Rehearsal Dinner Last?

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A wedding rehearsal dinner can last up to 2 to 4 hours. Typically, it begins with mingling and greetings that are followed by dinner. The toasts and speeches add a personal touch and warmth to the event but are also what mainly affect the duration of it. Keep in mind, it is a private occasion and there is no time limit on enjoying with your friends and family.

Since this will be a cozy and intimate dinner with your nearest and dearest, you may not want to miss the opportunity to make the event come alive with an added dash of creativity and thoughtful nuances. Check out our list of the top rehearsal dinner ideas that you can incorporate to spice up the pre-nuptial party.

Wedding Rehearsal Dinner Ideas

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1. Up, Close, And Personal

Ensure the playlist is peppered with personal favorites. You can also name the tables based on the favorite characters of your favorite books or have them named after the countries you have traveled to. A dash of personal touch goes a long way in building a maze of memories that guests can cherish.

protip_icon Did You Know?
The rehearsal dinner tradition originated as a way for the bride’s and groom’s families to meet and socialize before the wedding, fostering a sense of unity.

2. Theme It Right

Your theme will set the tone for the rest of the evening. You can choose a theme based on whether you prefer a grand setting or a private, intimate celebration. How about putting your creative instincts to good use and opting for a theme that’s graceful and unique?

The theme must reflect the shared interests of the ‘much-in-love’ couple, be it their passion for travel, books, music, or gadgets. Usually, the party is built around the cultural background or the place where the wedding is set. So, themes such as colorful bohemian, all-florals, or backyard picnic work wonders when planned and implemented in a detailed fashion.

3. Keep It Short

Tomorrow is the wedding, remember? Well, chances are one might lose track of time and get swayed by the celebratory ambiance at the rehearsal dinner. To prevent this, the party needs to begin and end at a reasonable time. Experts suggest two hours to be a good enough duration for rehearsal dinner. Keep it short and sweet so that you do not drain out your energy before the big day arrives.

If you wish to have a prolonged celebration with your close ones, decide on a rehearsal dinner or welcome party two days before the wedding day, so that you can party all night long and have a day off before the celebrations.

4. Share A moment

Conversations are highly underrated on such occasions. But you never know what memories you are creating while conversing with people who have come to celebrate the new phase of your life and bless you on this new journey. Therefore, it is wonderful to make an effort to approach every guest and share a moment with them. Make the out-of-town guests feel at home and witness the sparkle in their eyes as you tell them how happy and excited you are to see them. Utilize this moment to spread love and express gratitude.

5. Mind The Menu

Since you cannot cater to the taste bud of every guest on the list, it would be wise to come up with a menu that includes popular delectables and the much-loved local cuisine. It is also a great way to introduce your hometown favorites to out-of-town guests. Also, a good party does not feel complete without desserts. Traditionally, the groom’s cake is served as a customary dessert during the rehearsal dinner, marking a sweet end to a sweeter evening.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Incorporate personal touches such as sentimental speeches or photo displays to create a warm and intimate atmosphere.

6. Pass The Mic, Please

Some of your guests may feel inspired to make a speech or a quick toast to the lovely attendees. So, it would be a great idea to pick an emcee for the evening who can oversee the toasts and speeches. Since the mood is warm and cheerful, expect an overflow of good-hearted banter, endless laughter, and silly jokes to create an evening worth remembering.

While the toasts at weddings are a planned and synchronized affair, the ones at a rehearsal dinner tend to be spontaneous and casual. Due to its relaxed and informal setting, guests feel comfortable enough to open up and share fond memories with everyone around. Let’s have a look at how rehearsal dinner speeches are made.

Rehearsal Dinner Speech

Planning a rehearsal dinner speech
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Like everything else, is there a rule regarding who speaks at rehearsal dinner? Typically, the bride and the groom are expected to thank everyone for their support and participation in the wedding. Some of the relatives and friends may chip in with their humorous and heartfelt anecdotes.

The speeches are usually short and straight from the heart. The speaker might add some marriage, romantic, or love quotes to enhance the party mood. You can narrate a story about the couple’s core values or personality traits. Address the couples’ relationship through your eyes and end with a quick toast.

Key Takeaways

  • Rehearsal dinner helps avoid any mess on the D-day and adds to the happiness of the ceremony.
  • It is the best opportunity for relatives and friends to know each other, greet, and spend quality time.
  • Bride or groom, both the families or either of the two families can pay for the dinner.

When organizing a rehearsal dinner, don’t forget that it is another chance to unite, reflect, and make it all special. Explore the intricacies of rehearsal dinner in the video below and get ready to embrace your big day with more confidence.

Kara Sudfe, a blogger, shares her experience of her rehearsal dinner and how it was one of the best parts of her wedding. She says that it was fun to have all the favorite people together for rehearsal dinner without any pressure. She states, “Things got a little turnt, and there were some people that were hurting the next day, but I honestly wouldn’t trade it for anything. 10/10 day (i).”

A rehearsal dinner would be your way of personally thanking the people who are making efforts towards making your big day special. The experience of planning, preparing, and finally celebrating your dream wedding cannot be put in words. It can only be shared with others who have accompanied you on the journey. Your family, friends, and relatives have put in the time and effort to give shape and form to your dream wedding. Your support system deserves to be celebrated too! So, kick off the wedding celebrations with a rehearsal dinner party dedicated to your folks. Take inspiration from our rehearsal dinner ideas listed above and host a creative, entertaining, and memorable night that your guests will surely enjoy and appreciate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do parents give gifts at rehearsal dinner?

No, friends or family are not expected to bring along any gifts for rehearsal dinner. However, the bride and groom may choose to gift their near and dear ones.

Do the bride and groom sit with their parents at rehearsal dinner?

Yes, it is usually a very intimate setting with the best seats reserved for the bride and groom along with their parents and the host (if someone else). However, this depends on the family’s personal dynamics.


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(i) Our Rehearsal Dinner

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