Planning a Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

Advice on planning a wedding rehearsal dinner; from when to throw one to who to invite…

Planning a wedding rehearsal dinner

Your wedding day will be unlike any other, which is why some couples choose to plan a wedding rehearsal followed by a celebratory dinner, the night before the big day. A wedding rehearsal and/or dinner is not obligatory, and should be carefully planned, but if feel like you need an ice breaker, or have lots of friends and family travelling in from abroad, you may wish to consider organising one. This article shares tips, advice and ideas on planning a wedding rehearsal dinner. 

What is a Wedding Rehearsal Dinner?

Typically thrown after a rehearsal of a dummy run of your wedding ceremony, a supper at your wedding venue (or elsewhere if you are saving the ‘impact’) is a nice way to start your wedding festivities. Traditionally speaking, it happens the night before your wedding and is usually an early evening affair, meaning your guests won't need to take any extra time off work during the day and you still have time to disappear with your bridal party for some last minute pampering! That being said, it can also take place a couple of days in advance to allow for a little more rest and recuperation before the main event. Its novel introduction on the wedding scene means the etiquette can be fixed to suit your aspirations.

It provides a wonderful opportunity for your closest friends, family and future in-laws to get to know each other in a much more relaxed environment and celebrate the impending nuptials in an intimate setting - realistically, they're probably not going to be able to spend that much time with you on the day. 

Who Pays for a Wedding Rehearsal Dinner?

If you're sticking with tradition, the Groom's parents are usually the hosts of the rehearsal dinner and will take full responsibility for the organisation (and cost!) ... this does also mean the guest list is usually subject to their approval. At the very least this should include the immediate family, bridal party and their partners. Generally, the celebrant or officiant will attend (you really should invite them...) and people who have travelled a distance will be included although, as already suggested, it doesn’t have to conform to any particular format.

On the other hand, if you are going for a fancy affair with larger guest numbers in a hotel or country club, you’d be wise in sending out official invitations as you’ll want RSVPs for catering. Send these out with or shortly after your wedding invitations to help everyone keep on top of their schedules.

Top Tip: You may wish to make a welcome speech at your rehearsal dinner, just to thank everyone for coming and helping extend your celebrations, especially if they have travelled from a distance to be at your wedding. 

10 Fun Ideas for your Wedding Rehearsal Dinner 

After the actual wedding rehearsal, the bride, groom, bridal party and families will venture to a destination to kick-start the evening. Below are 10 of our favourite ideas if you plan on throwing a unique wedding rehearsal dinner the night before your wedding.

  1. A celebratory event in an Irish pub
  2. Hire your wedding venue the night before if availability and budgets allow
  3. Throw an ‘I do barbeque’ at home 
  4. Plan an early evening pizza party at your favourite pizzeria 
  5. Book a private area in a restaurant 
  6. Hire lanes at a bowling alley
  7. Plan a small soiree on a boat or local river cruise 
  8. Organise a picnic in the park if you’re getting married during the warmer months
  9. Cocktail Party 
  10. Let your parents plan a surprise rehearsal dinner for you both

Top Tip: You may not want to plan anything too full on for the night before your wedding. Think about the consequences of how you might feel the following day. Consider your food and drink options carefully.