Six Questions to Answer When Planning Your Rehearsal Dinner

Your rehearsal dinner is a special time leading up to your wedding. There is much excitement in the air, as everyone anticipates your big day. These are some common questions I am asked by brides about this pre-wedding celebration.

How formal should it be?

Is your rehearsal dinner going to have the same formality of your wedding, or are you going in a completely different direction? Many couples having a semi-formal or formal wedding like to also have a dressy affair for their wedding rehearsal dinner (it sets the stage for what’s to come the next day). But a more casual dinner may be just the thing for you, especially if your bridal party has traveled from out of town that day, or may have just gotten off work to attend the rehearsal. Be considerate of the needs of those who will be attending.

Who is invited?

At minimum, your bridal party and their spouses/significant others, as well as immediate family members, should be invited. You should also consider inviting out of town guests (if your budget permits). It’s a nice way to say ‘thank you’ to them for making the sacrifice to attend your wedding.

Where should I have it?

The possibilities are endless! Here are a few things to consider: (1) Look into places where you will not have to set up, decorate, and clean up (unless you have people designated to do this). The last thing you need is to be concerned about cleaning up after it’s over (you do have a busy day coming up, after all). (2) Restaurants are ideal; many can offer you a specific menu from your guests to order from, for a particular price range per person. If you’re considering a restaurant, find out if they have a separate banquet room that’s away from the other guests…that way, you don’t have to worry about disturbing other patrons. (3) Be sure you are clear on how much time you will have the space for.

What should I wear?

In my opinion, what you wear should match, in some way, the formality of your event. But, just because you are going the casual route, doesn’t mean you should go for the grunge look! You are the bride, and I think you should look as such! People will be taking lots of pictures (and you may even have your wedding photographer there), so be sure to look your best! Check out these dresses that are cute for a rehearsal dinner!

Should I give gifts to my bridal party?

This is your opportunity to thank your bridal party for being a part of your wedding. They have made sacrifices of time and finances to stand up for you, so presenting them with a nice gift is very much in order. This is also a chance for you to thank your parents or other special people before the big day. Be sure to budget for these gifts well in advance.

How long should the dinner last?

Your rehearsal dinner should be long enough for your guests to chat and get to know each other (especially the two families who are about to be one), enjoy their meals, present any gifts, and give final instructions for the wedding day. This is a great opportunity for those who will not get a chance to speak at the wedding (i.e., toasts) to say a few words (note I said ‘a few’). Uncle Bob may want to wish you well, so give him the chance to do so at your rehearsal dinner.

Your Planning Assignment

Don’t wait until the last minute to decide what your rehearsal dinner will be like. Decide who will be on the guest list, and once your plans are finalized, communicate this to the invitees. I would not put the details on your wedding website, since not all wedding guests are invited. Happy Planning!