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Wedding Rehearsal Dinner Guide

Most couples opt to hold a wedding rehearsal dinner of some sort. Held the night before the wedding day, it’s a chance to catch up with family and celebrate in a low key way before the formalities.

Here we answer some common questions and give some tips for organizing a relaxing and productive pre-wedding dinner.

Wedding rehearsal dinner table setting.

What is a wedding rehearsal dinner?

A rehearsal dinner is a lovely way to relax after what’s probably been a stressful day of last minute wedding planning. 

Some couples use the dinner as an opportunity to treat their family and wedding party as a thank you. It’s also an appropriate time to distribute gifts to the wedding party. The dinner is often the point where the nearly-wed couple part ways for the night.

Who is invited to rehearsal dinner?

Guests to the rehearsal dinner should be guests to the wedding itself. Generally people go simple and only include the immediate families, and you could include the wedding party and their partners, especially if they’ve been helping with the wedding set up and will be staying with you overnight.

A more involved dinner might include out of town guests, or really anyone who is coming along to the wedding and fancies beginning the celebrations early. A rehearsal dinner is a good chance to maximize quality time with out of town guests, if you decided to open it up to a wider group.  But think carefully whether you and your partner will have the time, energy and patience to catch up with guests after a busy day, and before an even busier one.

Just because guests are invited to the rehearsal dinner, doesn’t mean they’re expected at the actual ceremony rehearsal. That’s generally strictly wedding party only. Keep the ceremony rehearsal to the essential players only, as it is chaotic enough without well-intentioned (or just plain painful) guests butting in with their wisecracks or opinions.

Who pays for wedding rehearsal dinner?

Traditionally, the groom’s parents are responsible for footing the bill for the rehearsal dinner. But generally speaking, most wedding guests would plan to pay for their own meal.

Traditional and modern practice are two very different things as you’ll find time and time again with wedding planning.

Beautiful wedding table decoration and setting in rustic / village style. Italian wedding.

Final thoughts

Rehearsal dinners tend to be informally organised in the lead up to the wedding day. Are you planning on having an organised dinner, or will you play it by ear and have a relaxed meal with whoever is about?

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