wedding rehearsal

How do I plan a wedding rehearsal?

By Terry Meadows

4-minute read




Do you wish that you could have a last meal with family and friends before the excitement and pomp of the wedding day?

The rehearsal dinner is just what you are looking for.  It is held the evening before the wedding day after the final ceremony rehearsal and offers close family and friends an intimate moment with the couple.  

At Zion Springs, we have held hundreds of rehearsal dinners for our couples, and we are sharing our experience so you are better prepared for what to expect for your rehearsal dinner. 

Although we refer to a “dinner,” a breakfast, brunch, or early evening cocktail hour is perfectly acceptable if that better fits your schedule.

Whether planning something casual, cozy, or an all-out bash, the wedding rehearsal signals the start of your celebrations.  So you want to be prepared, and by following this guide, you can eliminate some of the confusion or pitfalls of planning a rehearsal dinner

In this article, we review:

  • What is the rehearsal dinner?
  • Do we send invitations for a rehearsal dinner?
  • Where is the rehearsal dinner held?
  • Who hosts the rehearsal dinner?
  • How much does the rehearsal dinner cost?
  • What is the rehearsal dinner etiquette?
  • Who do we invite to the rehearsal dinner?

What is the rehearsal dinner?

The rehearsal dinner is the meal that follows the wedding ceremony rehearsal and takes place the evening before the wedding celebration.  Depending on schedules, some couples may have it a day or two earlier. 

It is the final event before the wedding day and signals the start of the celebrations.  Informal and more personal speeches are given, and particular guests are recognized.  It is a chance for families to gather and introduce friends and relatives who haven’t met before. 

Depending on the couple's wishes, it is less formal than the wedding and can be quiet and intimate or fun-filled and exuberant.  This is the moment for quality time spent in conversation and private celebration with those closest to the couple. 

What is the rehearsal dinner etiquette?

The wedding couple spends individual time with their closest loved ones and gives them thanks.  Both sets of parents give speeches.  Others can be invited to give speeches if desired.  The groom also toasts his new bride.

The couple gives their thank-you gifts to the wedding party members. This is also a chance to present the couple with special mementos of their journey, such as a photo slideshow or a video montage. 

The groom’s cake is served at the rehearsal dinner in some traditions.

Usually, the dinner lasts 2-3 hours, especially the night before the wedding ceremony, so that couples can get an early bedtime.

Where is the wedding rehearsal dinner held?

Usually, the dinner is held in a restaurant close to the ceremony venue.  An all-inclusive venue includes the rehearsal dinner as part of the package, although you should check first, as not all-inclusive venues do this. 

If you have a small wedding party, you can consider booking a few tables in a restaurant or bar, especially if they have a designated seating area for small parties.   

You can check out hotel banquet rooms, country clubs, and reception halls for larger parties. 

Remember to reserve your venue around the same time as your wedding venue, as you don’t want to miss out on the perfect place because you booked too late.  

You can also host at home if you wish to keep it low-key, informal, and inexpensive.  

Who hosts the rehearsal dinner?

Traditionally, the groom’s parents host and pay for the rehearsal dinner, although more couples are taking over the role, especially if they assume the cost of the wedding.  The groom’s mother typically plans the dinner.

There are no hard and fast expectations anymore, so it is up to the couple and their families to decide, and it is now common for the cost to be shared.

How much does the rehearsal dinner cost?

The size of your guest list determines the cost of your rehearsal dinner.  On average, it is $2,400, including the venue, invitations, catering, and decorations. 

The size of your guest list determines much of your cost. If you are looking to lower your costs, go for a more expensive venue with fewer guests or a less expensive venue with more guests.  

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Who do we invite to the wedding rehearsal dinner?

The guest list is fairly limited and includes those who are part of the wedding ceremony and a few close friends and relatives.  Remember to factor in plus-ones for guests with a significant other. 

  • Bridesmaids
  • Groomsmen
  • Flower girls and ring bearers and their parents (optional)
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Siblings and immediate family members
  • Close friends and relatives
  • The officiant, if appropriate

If you are having a destination wedding or a multi-day wedding, it is common to invite those attendees who are staying at the same venue. 

Do we send invitations for a rehearsal dinner?

Yes.  You need to inform people about the rehearsal dinner, so include:

  • The venue's name and address
  • Date and time of dinner
  • RSVP contact information and deadlines
  • Dietary restrictions

These don’t have to be as formal or fancy as the wedding invitations, and they can still include your theme.

Planning your wedding rehearsal dinner

As you stand on the threshold of your wedding day, filled with anticipation and joy, we hope this article has served as a guiding light in planning your rehearsal dinner. Understanding the significance of this intimate prelude to your wedding, we've explored its various facets – from the essence of the dinner itself, to the etiquette, hosting, and planning intricacies. Whether you envision a cozy gathering or a grand celebration, this rehearsal dinner is a cherished opportunity for personal moments and heartfelt connections with those closest to you.

But the journey of wedding planning encompasses much more. We invite you to continue exploring and learning with us. At Zion Springs, we are committed to being more than just a venue; we aspire to be your companion in this beautiful journey. Our aim is to educate and empower couples like you in every aspect of your wedding journey, ensuring that each step towards your big day is as informed and joyful as possible.  For further insights, visit our articles on the nuances of a Zion Springs Wedding Rehearsal and the practicalities of financial responsibilities in Who Pays What for the Wedding. Each piece is crafted to enrich your understanding and ease your path to a memorable wedding experience.