Where Should You Have Your Rehearsal Dinner?

Where should you have your rehearsal dinner?Photo: Leila Brewster

Wedding planning isn’t just about making arrangements for the big day.

It’s also about planning all sorts of fun pre-wedding events. 

Your family and wedding party will likely plan your bridal shower and bachelorette party. But the wedding rehearsal dinner is a super special moment that brides and grooms sometimes plan for themselves.

Starting to think about where you should host your rehearsal dinner? 

Here are some tips on deciding where to have your rehearsal dinner, plus insight into what to wear, when to have it, and who to invite!  

What Is a Rehearsal Dinner?

rustic tables and chairs set for rehearsal dinner in a tent under string lights and greenery

Photo: Bella Bridesmaids Los Angeles/Shelby Paige

If you’ve never been in a wedding party before, you might not realize that you even need a wedding rehearsal — let alone a rehearsal dinner.

The wedding rehearsal is a quick run-through of the ceremony events scheduled for the big day.  

It usually involves: 

• All members of the wedding party
• The parents
• The grandparents
• Anyone who’s giving a reading
• Anyone playing a special role in the festivities

    The purpose is to ensure everyone involved in the wedding ceremony knows when to walk and where to sit and stand.

    And when the rehearsal is over, it’s customary for the couple to invite everyone to one last pre-wedding party — AKA: the rehearsal dinner!

    When Should You Have Your Rehearsal Dinner?

    The rehearsal dinner (and the rehearsal that precedes it) usually occurs the night before the wedding. For many couples, this is the official kick-off to their wedding weekend!

    If you have to be up bright and early the next day, it’s a good idea to have your rehearsal dinner early in the evening. That way, everyone will have plenty of time to sleep and feel refreshed and ready for the next day!

    What Do You Wear to the Rehearsal Dinner?

    There’s one question that every bride wants to know the answer to:

    Do I have to wear white to my rehearsal dinner?

    The answer is no. You can wear any color you want. But a little white dress is always a stylish choice! 

    When shopping for rehearsal dinner dresses, look for one that makes you feel comfortable, confident, and beautiful! If you feel gorgeous in white, wear white. If you feel more confident in black, go for black!  

    It’s entirely up to you.  

    As for your guests, if you have a specific theme in mind, be sure to let them know the dress code. 

    Here are a few examples: 

    • If you’re throwing a beach luau, suggest that your guests wear Hawaiian shirts or floral dresses.
    • Encourage everyone to wear their favorite country/western attire for a beer-and-ribs farmhouse BBQ.
    • For a clambake by the ocean, recommend nautical looks, such as seersucker pants or bold stripes.

    Your rehearsal dinner is an important precursor to the wedding day, so wear whatever you want and enjoy it however you want to! 

    Where Should You Have Your Rehearsal Dinner?

    Round tables with white tablecloths and clear plastic chairs at an upscale outdoor patio venue under blue skies.Photo: Bella Bridesmaids Atlanta/Sav Brown 

    There’s no right or wrong place to have your rehearsal dinner. It’s all about what you envision for your wedding weekend and how you choose to celebrate!

    Some couples choose a casual restaurant as their rehearsal dinner venue, while others go for a bit more glitz and glam.

    The key factor in deciding where to have your dinner usually depends on how many people you invite.

    With a small, intimate guest list, consider having the dinner in a private room at a restaurant or a lounge near your wedding venue. With a long guest list, you may need to rent a small ballroom or a banquet hall close to where your wedding guests are staying.

    For a destination wedding, you can host your rehearsal dinner at the hotel pool, a local gastropub that serves great food, or in a nearby park. 

    No matter where you choose to have it, choose a rehearsal dinner venue that has a different vibe from where you’re having your actual wedding.  

    That way, they’ll feel like two distinct events. 

    You can have your rehearsal dinner anywhere you want. But it’s best to choose a venue close to where your guests are staying, especially if you have a lot of guests traveling in from out of town.

    Who Should I Invite to My Rehearsal Dinner?

    Your rehearsal dinner guest list should include all of the members of your wedding party and your immediate family members.

    Some couples choose to give their groomsmen and bridesmaids a plus-one. Others invite out-of-town guests who’ve arrived in town early. And some couples extend the invitation to include their officiant and other VIP wedding guests.

    Since the dinner follows the rehearsal, invite your wedding party and anyone whose presence you require at the rehearsal. But beyond that, who you invite is entirely up to you!

    Just remember this:

    There’s no need to invite everyone you’ve invited to the wedding reception. A rehearsal dinner should be a more intimate affair with the people that mean the absolute most to you! 

    Who Pays for the Rehearsal Dinner?

    Traditionally, the bride’s family pays for the wedding, and the groom’s family pays for the rehearsal dinner.

    But today, there are no rules about who pays for what.

    It’s common for modern couples to pay for the rehearsal dinner on their own. That’s especially true if they’re financially self-sufficient and aren’t relying on their parents to pay for the wedding. 

    It’s equally as commonplace for the groom’s parents and the bride’s parents to share the costs.

    The rehearsal dinner is just like every other part of your wedding. It should be all about what you want and how you want to remember the moment five, ten, or twenty years down the road! 

    Related: Who Pays for the Bridal Shower?

    Who Should Plan the Rehearsal Dinner?

    No matter who pays for the wedding rehearsal dinner, the couple should have the ultimate say in planning the event, assuming they want to.

    However, many brides and grooms prefer to focus on preparing for the big day. They let their parents or other loved ones handle the rehearsal dinner details! 

    Do You Need to Send Invitations for a Rehearsal Dinner?

    Invitations on red background/silver tray. Addressed with calligraphy.Photo: Bella Bridesmaids Charleston/Anne Jervey Rhett

    It’s totally up to you whether or not you choose to send rehearsal dinner invitations. 

    If you’re having a small gathering of close friends and loved ones, a simple phone call or in-person invite is more than sufficient. 

    If you’re planning to invite a few dozen guests, invitations can help get official RSVPs and a total headcount before the event.

    Whether you send invitations or not, inform your guests of your rehearsal dinner at least 30 days in advance. 

    Looking for the perfect bridesmaid dresses? Shop our collections:

    From what you wear to who you invite to the type of food you serve, your rehearsal dinner is yet another way to reflect who you are as a couple. 

    You can be super laid back with a beach party or make it sleek and chic in a swanky hotel restaurant or lounge. Or invite as many or as few people as you wish. Or get dressed up in fancy outfits or suggest casual and carefree attire.

    There are no hard-and-fast rules on what makes for a great rehearsal dinner. It’s all about having fun, celebrating with your besties and closest relatives, and kicking off your wedding weekend in a way that’s uniquely you!

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