Many weddings also include a pre-event “rehearsal dinner” prior to the actual ceremony and reception. The wedding rehearsal dinner is traditionally held the evening before, right after the walk-through of the wedding ceremony. It is the opportunity for two families and the wedding party to get to know one another in a more casual atmosphere before the big event. The wedding rehearsal should be the pre-wedding event that makes everyone feel welcome.

The following are our best tips for planning a wedding rehearsal party to remember:

Who to invite

The groom’s family typically throws and pays for the party, though these days it can be jointly held by both families or the bride and groom themselves. The party includes immediate family, the wedding party, and the officiant plus everyone’s significant others. Extended family or out of town guests who have traveled from afar are sometimes invited to the rehearsal dinner. Rehearsal dinners are usually smaller affairs which make mingling and longer conversations possible.


Rehearsal dinner parties can be held at restaurants, unique venues – such as an art museum, park or even in your backyard. The number of guests you have should help you narrow down your options. If you’re researching venues and restaurants, you’ll need to ask how large of a group they can accommodate, if a private room is available, how far in advance a reservation can be made, and what types of menus they can offer. If you have a larger group, a set menu or a menu with one or two choices can be an economical choice and help the restaurant better estimate the quantity of food to order.

Planned activities

Rehearsal dinner parties usually offer a time for the bride and groom to walk around and visit with each person. Sometimes small thank you gifts are given to bridal party members to thank them for being part of the wedding. The groom and bride might also use the occasion to exchange a more personal gift.  Lastly, consider if toasts will be done, and if so, you can order the champagne to be passed out at a certain point in the meal. Every rehearsal party has a unique flavor, so couples can decide which of these traditions they would like to include.

Style of event

Depending on what you had in mind, a rehearsal dinner party can be very casual or more formal. Generally, it is less a formal affair than the wedding reception itself to avoid “upstaging” the wedding reception. It can be a backyard barbecue or even a plated dinner. Some even hold it informally as a cocktail party. As long as guests feel welcome and have less structured time to be with one another and the bride and groom, the event will be a success no matter what style you choose.

When to send invitations

Shortly after the wedding invitations go out, be sure to invite your guests to the rehearsal dinner party so they can make arrangements to arrive early to be there. You can send a formal invitation, send an email or electronic invitation, or even give them a call. Even if you don’t have all the details quite set, a general idea of when your dinner will be will help with their travel plans. Be sure to set an RSVP date, since you’ll need a firm headcount to share with the restaurant or caterer.

We can help

SmokeHouse 54 under the leadership of Executive Chef Steven Muhlbaier can help you select a delicious menu of barbecue or other fine foods (steaks, chicken, and seafood) that will impress your friends and family. We offer a variety of menu selections and can create something special for your party. Holding a party off site? You can place a catering order, and we deliver, too! Give us a call today and let us help you schedule a wedding rehearsal dinner party to remember.