How to Plan a Rehearsal Dinner

Intro to Rehearsal Dinners

A rehearsal dinner is usually hosted the night before the wedding immediately following the rehearsal at your venue. During your rehearsal, your officiant, coordinator, wedding party, and immediate family will go through the processional and outline of the ceremony at your venue. After your rehearsal is finished, typically the whole group will head to a rehearsal dinner! The purpose of this is to thank everyone more intimately involved in the wedding for being there for you throughout your engagement and on the wedding day! Traditionally, the parents of the groom will take care of the bill for the rehearsal dinner. Nowadays there are lots of couples paying for their own wedding and the rehearsal as well! In this post I’ll go over some tips on how to go about planning your rehearsal dinner and what to consider along the way.

The Guest List

First things first: anyone who is involved in the processional at the wedding needs to be invited. This would be your wedding party and immediate family. As a courtesy, if your wedding party members bring dates for the wedding, you should invite those plus ones to the rehearsal dinner. After this, it’s up to your choice! If you have a large family and want to invite all of the aunts, uncles, and cousins go for it! As a reminder, the guest list will most directly impact the total cost of the dinner. Each person you add increases the price, so be mindful of your budget when adding to the guest list! Here’s a quick list of the type of people you should consider inviting:

  • Parents and Siblings

  • Grandparents

  • Wedding Party Members (and their dates)

  • Flower Girls/Ring Bearers (and their parents)

  • Aunts, Uncles, and Miscellaneous Family

If you have any other wedding guests who are coming in from out of town and have already arrived, consider inviting them, too! Again, it all depends on your budget and how many people you can accommodate. The people who you invite will be the ones with you the night before your wedding! Thoughtfully consider who you are inviting into that space. You want to be able to relax and be stress free and having the right people around you will help with that big time!


Now that you have your guest list, the next step is to start thinking about where you want to host your rehearsal dinner! There is so much freedom here, so first consider what atmosphere you want the dinner to have (formal, cocktail, casual, etc.). Would you like everyone to be formally dressed and seated at a nice restaurant? Are you wanting something more casual where you can mix and mingle with the attendees? Think about who you are inviting, what expectations everyone might have, and what you want from the evening and go from there!

Next, begin researching restaurants near your venue that have separate spaces specifically for large groups. Many restaurants have rooms they can close off or will let you rent a section of the building for your rehearsal dinner. If you are wanting something a little more casual, try finding a local brewery that also serves food! If you are having trouble finding a space that can accommodate your guest count, you can always rent a space and have a caterer come to you! This is likely to be more expensive and can entail more work, but it gives you total control of the location, food type, décor, and length of the night.

Make It Yours

Rehearsal dinners are a great way to really show your personality and highlight some fun aspects of your relationship! Think about your favorite date night to go on with your fiancé or a type of food that is significant to your relationship. You might even play around with a theme for your rehearsal dinner and make it fun! As a part of your dinner you could display some pictures of the two of you or even set up a photo opp for your guests. Often at rehearsal dinners, friends and family members who are not giving a formal speech on wedding day stand up and give a toast to the bride and groom. This is a perfect time for anyone who would like to say something sweet or share memories about you two to do so without having to speak in front of the whole wedding!

Rehearsal dinners are not meant to be complicated and overwhelming. At the end of the day, all you need is some food and your favorite people. Anything beyond that is icing on the cake! Everyone will do it differently so don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and be creative to showcase you and your fiancé's love story!

Happy planning,

Shelby Kirchner

Owner & Head Planner

Plan On It ATX

I am Austin based full service wedding planner for the modern, relaxed couple who wants to enjoy their engagement and wedding planning experience. We specialize in full weekend weddings that are centered on a high guest experience.

Email today to learn more about my services and how I can help you and your partner plan the wedding of your dreams!

Memories Captured by Feather & Twine Photography


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