Rehearsal dinner ideas invitation

Your rehearsal dinner should be a relaxing moment after the bustle of wedding planning and before the busy-ness of your big day. It’s where you bring your wedding party and family together to enjoy each other’s company before the main event. Plan a dining experience your guests will love with this collection of our best rehearsal dinner ideas. 

Rehearsal Dinner Basics 

Like all things wedding, how you plan, host, and style your rehearsal dinner is entirely up to you. But there are some basics you’ll want to know. Here’s a quick primer on rehearsal dinner etiquette. 

When Should You Host Your Rehearsal Dinner? 

It’s tradition to host your rehearsal dinner right after your wedding rehearsal. It often makes the most sense to do this because the guest list will feature the same people. You don’t have to stick with tradition though. Some couples prefer to run these pre-wedding events separately over their wedding weekend. 

Who Should You Invite?

Send out rehearsal dinner invitations to all those who play a key part in your ceremony or have helped with the planning. This usually includes the immediate families of both you and your fiancé, plus the wedding party members. If you’d like to throw a party for more guests though, go for it! 

Who Pays?

In the past, wedding rehearsal dinners were usually paid for by the groom’s family. That’s no longer the case, so feel free to split the bill for your rehearsal dinner whichever way works best for you. Some couples foot the bill and include it in their overall wedding budget, while others might find their family comes through with a generous offer to host or pay. 

What’s the Format?

The schedule for your rehearsal dinner will be influenced by the kind of event you want to host. Some couples opt for a formal sit-down dinner with toasts, while others prefer a casual get-together around a fire pit until the sun goes down. Most wedding rehearsal dinners feature a welcome greeting, dinner (formal or informal), plus some time to mingle and relax. 

Rehearsal Dinner Ideas You’ll Love

Rehearsal dinner ideas: Pink cocktail with fig

Want to host an event that feels special, personal, and unforgettable? Of course you do! Create an experience for your guests with these can’t-miss rehearsal dinner ideas. 

Stage a Mini Event

Your wedding is the main event, but there’s nothing to say you can’t transform your rehearsal dinner into one too. If you love planning (or have a wedding planner), create a mini-event for friends and family members to enjoy. 

You could bring in entertainers, set up games, and let the party go on all night. Just remember that you don’t want hungover guests for your big day, so you may want to set a drinking curfew.

Choose an Unusual Rehearsal Dinner Venue

If you’re hosting your rehearsal dinner away from home, look for a venue that’s interesting or unexpected. Book your favorite vintage themed tea room or hire your local comedy club for a private event. Host a cozy, intimate dinner in your most-loved book store, or take a private tour of your favorite animal park. There are endless opportunities here to get creative. 

Create an Atmosphere

You don’t need to go wild with themes to stage a memorable pre-wedding dinner. Instead, create an atmosphere at your rehearsal dinner with the right lighting, music, and decor.

Hire your favorite local musicians to play a set while you dine and chat, or book a circus act to entertain guests to close out the event. Decorate with warm string lighting for a cozy atmosphere, or bring out neon signs for an 80s-themed bash. Keep your decor simple with a modern or rustic touch, or use themed decor for a unique party vibe. 

Reference Your Love Story

It’s almost your wedding day and one of the most memorable landmarks in your love story so far. Celebrate your journey by adding touches of your love story to your rehearsal dinner. 

Decorate with centerpieces that feature photos of you together, or create a video slideshow to share with guests. Mention some of your highlights together in a casual toast, or set up a pinboard that shares your favorite moments. 

Serve a Signature Drink

Make things a little more personal than your average cocktail with a signature drink. It can be a fun way to create a talking point and serve up something delicious to your guests. 

Most couples opt for a cocktail they both love or create a fun new mix of flavors. If cocktails aren’t your thing, have custom labels made for the wine and champagne bottles at your rehearsal dinner instead. 

Encourage Conversation

For us, wedding rehearsal dinners are all about bringing people together for good conversation over good food. Make that easy by thinking about where and how you’ll host your meal. 

Give your guests plenty of space to mingle and get to know each other. Create space between your tables, and create moments in your schedule where people can get up, walk around, and talk over an activity, game, or experience. 

Share Gifts With Loved Ones

Most couples decide to give something small to their parents, bridal party, groomsmen, and wedding party. If you also want to publicly thank these people for their time and effort, doing this at your rehearsal dinner makes a lot of sense.

A great time to do this is during your toasts if you’re having any. Give a short speech thanking your wedding party for their involvement before presenting gifts. If you do this early on, make sure there’s a safe place they can leave their gifts before collecting them when they leave. That way, they’re not tasked with juggling them while they mingle or dance. 

Fun Rehearsal Dinner Themes

People enjoying barbecue party

Want to go for something a little more themed than a traditional formal rehearsal dinner? Here are some ideas to inspire you. Don’t forget to complete the look with themed rehearsal dinner invitations, or choose a design that matches your wedding invitations.

Casual Brunch

Keep things low-key with a delicious brunch as an alternative to a formal evening dinner. This works great if your wedding rehearsal is earlier in the day or if you want to host your event on a different day. 

Invite friends and family members over to your place for a relaxed brunch, or reserve a table (or room) at your most-loved local restaurant. Serve up delicious pastries and hot dishes, alongside fresh juice, mimosas, and a little champagne.

All Out Fiesta

Liven things up and host a fun-filled fiesta for your rehearsal dinner. Decorate your event space with brightly colored banners, streamers, and balloons to create a party atmosphere.

Book a food truck to visit your event and offer up favorites like tacos, burritos, or burgers to your guests. Add in a colorful signature cocktail and plan an evening of dancing, party games, and laughter. 

Beach Party

If you’re blessed with gorgeous weather, head to the beach to stage a fun wedding rehearsal dinner.

Beach parties are a lovely way to honor a beach engagement or to give you a preview of your beachside honeymoon. Keep things casual with a picnic and beer, or hire a team of professionals to create a luxury experience with servers, a beach bar, and private beach loungers.

Pizza Party

When you think of a rehearsal dinner, a pizza party might not immediately spring to mind. Trust us though, it’s a fantastic idea if you want something relaxing and comforting. 

Invite your wedding party, close friends, and family members for a fun pizza party at home. Put your favorite movie on the TV or set up your video game consoles and challenge each other to see who takes the top score. Ask guests for their favorite toppings on your digital invitations, so you can get the perfect mix of pizzas. 

Backyard BBQ

Bring your guests together to talk, laugh, and celebrate your upcoming ceremony with a backyard BBQ. This is perfect if you want to invite lots of guests, but don’t want the expense or planning that comes with private dining en masse. 

Set up a BBQ in your backyard, or the yard of someone close to you. Make sure there’s plenty of space for everyone to mingle, and an assortment of drinks for people to enjoy. Lay out lawn games for some added fun, or set up a bonfire to keep warm around as you watch the sun go down. 

Host a Memorable Event With These Rehearsal Dinner Ideas 

Your wedding rehearsal dinner is all about you as a couple and the landmark moment you’re about to experience. Your friends and family members are joining you to celebrate your journey and relax a little ahead of the exciting rush of the big day. Use these rehearsal dinner ideas to plan something special and entertain your VIP guests in style.