Kick off your celebration with a pre-wedding party that guests won’t just enjoy, but appreciate. Your rehearsal dinner shouldn’t compete with the actual wedding but it should complement the main event. Treat the celebration as a pre-party, where guests leave craving more – and lucky for them, you’re going to deliver the next day. Delicious food, fun touches and memorable moments are just a few must-haves at the event.
Traditionally, the bride’s parents paid for the wedding and the groom’s parents took care of the rehearsal dinner. These days, anything goes. If both sets of parents are sharing the costs of the wedding, then perhaps you and your fiance may want to pay for the rehearsal dinner.
Here is who should make the guest list: anyone who is in the wedding party, plus spouses or dates, and your immediate families. It is also customary to invite the officiant of the ceremony if they are close to the family. After that, the guest list is pretty wide open – however, budget usually determines how many places to set.
It’s better to start everything early, so you’re not too tired the following day. I like to schedule the ceremony rehearsal for 4 o’clock or 5 o’clock at the latest, budgeting about 30 minutes for practice and 15 minutes for transit (adjust as needed). The dinner should begin around 6 o’clock and end by 9 o’clock so you can ensure you get your much needed beauty rest before the big day.
Choose a venue that suits your overall theme, budget and number of guests attending. It’s important to make it as convenient as possible for those attending so they aren’t stuck traveling a long distance. For our wedding we were lucky enough to have the rehearsal, and the rehearsal dinner all at the Four Seasons Orlando Resort, which made it very convenient for everyone.
Don’t forget to send out invitations! You can mail them out separately or include a card in the main wedding invite. Whichever you decide is fine.
There are so many different options for food at a rehearsal dinner. It can compliment the weddings, or it can be totally different. It’s a good idea to serve something that almost everyone will enjoy – it’s never good to have hungry guests. Also don’t forget about beverages. It’s a good idea to serve non-alcoholic drinks along with alcoholic drinks, just so there is something for everyone. I always warn people against too much booze-hung-over ceremony guests are not happy guests.
A “groom’s cake” is always fun and a rehearsal dinner is a great place to serve one. Get creative with this – and serve a cake guests will remember.
Rehearsal dinner speeches are typically lively, and super personal. Have a friend record the speeches so that you have them for life.
When it comes down to it: remember to have fun! Keep it fun and simple. After you and your fiancé have worked so hard to plan your wedding together, you deserve to enjoy this evening with each other and your loved ones.