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5 Things To Remember When Planning Your Rehearsal Dinner

  |  By Laura Downs

The plans are in motion, the ceremony has been rehearsed and finally, the night before the big day is here. What better way to unwind than a nice evening with your wedding party and family? A rehearsal dinner doesn’t have to be an elaborate affair, but does require some planning and thought. Here are five things you should know when planning your rehearsal dinner:

1. Who should host?

Traditionally, the groom’s parents host the rehearsal dinner while the bride’s family pay for the wedding. But many couples are now taking on the planning and costs of both occasions. “Due to the fact that rehearsal dinners have grown into more of an event, often times they are hosted by both sets of parents or even a close family member,” says Tiffany Anderson, event specialist for Cup of Tea Events in Toronto, Ont. “Rehearsal dinners today are often used as a 'kick off' event for the wedding festivities.”

2. Who should be invited?

Anyone involved in the preparations, like the wedding party and parents, should be invited to the dinner, but many brides choose to invite out of town guests or additional family members as a thoughtful gesture. "It is more common to have a longer guest list these days, which can include extended family, close friends and out of town guests," says Anderson.

3. What kind of occasion should it be?

The evening can be as casual or as formal as you choose, whether it's in a private room at a restaurant or a catered meal at a family home. Many couples also choose backyard barbecues, buffets or cocktail hours instead of a sit-down dinner though Anderson says the event should not replicate the wedding in theme or style. “Brides should remember to keep the rehearsal dinner as a separate event, meaning not turning it into a sister version of the wedding you have planned the next day," she says.

4. What is the rehearsal dinner for?

Because the evening is more intimate and casual, family and friends can prepare more extensive toasts and speeches they may not have time for during the reception. It is also an opportunity to give your wedding party their gifts and thank everyone for their involvement in the wedding. “The importance of this event is more focused on starting off the 'wedding weekend' with family and friends,” says Anderson.

5. Do you need a rehearsal dinner?

A rehearsal dinner is an opportunity for everyone to relax, unwind and go over any last minute details before the big day. The type of evening you want to plan is up to you, but just be sure the celebrations don’t go on too late!


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