January 18, 2022

Everything You Need to Know about Rehearsal Dinners: Rehearsal Dinners 101

Welcome to Rehearsal Dinners 101. Here you’re going to find everything you need to know about rehearsal dinners. The truth is – they’re really not that complicated, especially compared to the wedding day.

Rehearsal Dinners 101, everything you need to know about rehearsal dinners

What is a Rehearsal Dinner

The rehearsal dinner serves as a dinner following your ceremony rehearsal. It can be casual or incredibly fancy – your choice! Some couples have opted to skip the ceremony altogether but are still having a “rehearsal” dinner. Technically this might be more of a welcome dinner, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

During the rehearsal dinner, a few toasts may be given and often they are pretty spontaneous – sort of like an open mic night. Don’t fret too much about having a timeline for the rehearsal dinner unless you have hired live event entertainers on a set schedule.

Estancia La jolla Wedding

Who is Invited to the Rehearsal Dinner

Definitely your immediate families, the wedding party (bridesmaids/groomsmen), parents of the flower girl and ring bearer if you have those, anybody participating in the ceremony such as readers, singers, and the officiant. Essentially anybody participating in the ceremony and their spouses.

If you have the budget and space, it would be nice to give the wedding party plus ones for non spouses, also extended families like aunts and uncles, close cousins, and grandparents. Additionally, you can include your closest friends who aren’t in the wedding party. And, of course if it’s in your budget and the venue allows for it, you can invite your entire wedding guest list!

Tablescape with brown crossback chairs and a blue and white patterned linen. Pink taper candles. Butter yellow napkins on ivory plates. Centerpiece with coral charm peonies, pansies, roses, yellow peonies, and peach, pink, mauve flowers. Del Mar Country Club on film by Cavin Elizabeth Photography

Where Should You Host the Rehearsal Dinner

While it’s not necessary, it is a nice change of scenery to host the rehearsal dinner at a separate location from the wedding. This might not be possible if you’re having a destination wedding, so at least try to have the rehearsal dinner in a separate room, lawn, etc. from the wedding ceremony and reception if possible.

You could choose to hold the dinner at a venue with opposite or complementary vibes to the wedding – your choice. There is no right or wrong. Rehearsal dinners are often held at restaurants, so you could choose a restaurant with special history or one with a cuisine that is a date night favorite.

Sunset beach dinner. Engagement photos in Jamaica. Cavin elizabeth Photography - destination film photographer

Who Pays for the Rehearsal Dinner

Historically speaking, for heterosexual couples, the groom’s parents pay for the rehearsal dinner. That said, this might not fit your situation. Usually whichever family is not paying for the wedding would pay for the rehearsal dinner. Sometimes even that family might not be financially able to contribute, so it could fall to the couple to pay for the rehearsal dinner.

Signature cocktails and appetizers for weddings for the couple to eat during cocktail hour. Cavin Elizabeth Photography.

Hiring a Photographer

Hire your wedding day photographer to shoot your rehearsal dinner! It will give them a chance to get to know your family and allow them to become comfortable with your photographer. That’s great for your wedding day photos! Plus, you’ll have a unique set of photos captured from the rehearsal to cherish. And that’s all you need to know about rehearsal dinners, happy planning!