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6 Tips to Plan the most Memorable Rehearsal Dinner Ever!

May 22, 2019

rehearsal dinner

This is a topic that a bride has recently requested and I’m SO glad she did! Rehearsal Dinners are my fave, but I know it is sometimes a sticking point in wedding planning. So let’s jump right into planning your rehearsal dinner!

6 Tips to Plan the most Memorable Rehearsal Dinner Ever!

#1: Guest List

We’re just going to start this thing off with a bang, y’all. The rehearsal dinner guest list is a sticking point for just about every couple I talk to. Why? Well, there is no scientific research on this ( I checked), but I have a theory. Ancient wedding etiquette says the couple must invite all of their out-of-town guests to the rehearsal dinner. When I read this when I was wedding planning, my response was “I’m sorry, whhhhaaaaattt? That’s like 50 extra people!”

Now don’t get me wrong, your out-of-town guests should be thanked for making the trip to your wedding, but since families are so spread out these days (a little different than when this rule was made) I believe you can do this in other ways that don’t make your rehearsal dinner feel like a “pre-wedding, wedding.” Seriously, we invited 120ish people to our wedding and if we had stuck to this rule, we would have had about 90 people at our rehearsal dinner. Yikes no.

SO, here is my suggestion if you : #1- are like us and have A LOT of out-of-town family, #2- don’t want to spend a million dollars on the rehearsal dinner, and #3- want to keep the rehearsal dinner small and intimate, invite the following to your rehearsal dinner:

  1. Your immediate family/any special family members you know you want there (close aunts, uncles, cousins,etc.)
  2. Bridal Party and spouses (non-spouse plus ones are optional here)
  3. Parents of ring bearer and flower girl
  4. Officiant and spouse (optional)

Then, give your out-of-town guests suggestions for restaurants close to the hotels you have blocked for wedding weekend! You could even suggest they all meet up together at the same restaurant or in the hotel lobby for drinks at a certain time. That way, they won’t feel like they have to sit in the hotel room while the rehearsal dinner is going on! You could send an e-vite or add a section on your wedding website that stated something similar to:

“Head to Maggiano’s at 7:30 PM for dinner, then end your evening with a drink in the Mariott Lobby!  Hotel staff will have welcome treats for all!”

Leave a handwritten welcome note for each out-of-town guest at the front lobby and voila! Your out of towners feel welcome and have a fun option for the night!

perfect rehearsal dinner

#2: Talk to your In-Laws

Traditionally the parents of the groom pay for/host the rehearsal dinner, but of course, this differs from couple to couple. Your in-laws may not be in a spot financially to pay for the dinner, they may not enjoy planning events, or, they may want you to do all the planning and they just write a check. My biggest piece of advice here is to never assume, just talk to them. Ask them how involved they would like to be and invite them to brainstorm ideas with you! After that, you will be able to tell exactly how “hand’s on” both literally and financially they would like to be.

#3: Think Outside of the Box

You’re going to spend months and months planning the formal shindig that will be your wedding – allow yourself to have some fun when it comes to your rehearsal dinner! Want to throw a Disney-themed party? Your rehearsal dinner is the perfect time. Do you and your honey brewery hop on the weekends? Host your rehearsal dinner at a brewery. Obsessed with mexican food? Throw a rehearsal fiesta! Is your wedding near Halloween? Make your rehearsal dinner a costume party! Okay, that may be a little much, but hey, if you want to go all out – do it! Let your personalities shine through your rehearsal dinner!

We actually went with a rehearsal fiesta for our rehearsal dinner – and it was SO fun. We had the dinner at my uncle’s house (it is ridiculously beautiful), and had a local catering company fix up a mexican feast! My uncles then surprised me with an actual Mariachi Band! It was insane and I loved every minute of it.

fiesta themed rehearsal dinner
rehearsal dinner cake

#4: Let your Friends Have the Microphone

I know a lot of couples are super skeptical about handing the toasting mic to their friends, but ya’ll, it’s so special. Your rehearsal dinner is a more intimate setting with the closest people to you, so unless you are worried about your buddy ratting you out for hard drugs or murder, let them speak! You might be surprised at the wonderful, beautiful things they say about you and your fiance. I know we were – I cried the entire time!

If you host your rehearsal dinner at a venue with a hard stop time, assign someone to just make sure the toasts aren’t going on and on and on. We don’t want to run out of time!

rehearsal dinner toast
rehearsal dinner toast
rehearsal dinner toasts

#5: Keep the Decor Simple

More than likely you’ve spent a paycheck or two on wedding decor, so try to pull back a little for your rehearsal dinner. Especially if you are hosting at a restaurant, you really won’t need too too much. I’d suggest just a few floral arrangement and maybe some cool linens or table runners, but really, keep it simple. Think of your rehearsal dinner as a time to strip away all of the fluff of the wedding and to focus on your fiance and your loved ones before the madness starts tomorrow!

rehearsal dinner decor

#6: Don’t Drink too Much

You do not, I repeat do NOT want to be hungover on wedding day. I have experienced first hand a bride going through this and it was not fun! So have a few drinks, but keep it to a minimum. And drink lots of water before bed! You need beauty rest, not a hangover “glow” aka: dehydration and dark circles.


I am not joking when I say our rehearsal dinner was one of my favorite parts of our wedding. It was all about being surrounded by the people who will be by our sides forever, no question. The love felt through speeches, surprises, hugs, and food still makes me tear up. So, go plan an awesome rehearsal dinner, and remember to set your focus and soak up every lovin’ minute with your people!

rehearsal dinner guest list

Happy Wedding Planning!


Interested in having the Jackson & June team coordinate, plan, or design your big day? Find out more info here!

Planning Tips

  1. Robin says:

    Wonderful suggestions! I am the mother of the groom. We are planning a destination wedding about 5 hrs from our home. I am trying to come up with some special & unique ideas to make the rehearsal dinner memorable. I love your ideas. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Shelly Wright says:

    Thanks for the tips. This prompted great conversations and I scaled back my ideas since I did not want to steal any ideas my bride was wanting at the wedding . Example I took signature cocktails away so she could have that at the wedding. We are doing much more casual and not doing her exact color scheme so she can have “her” day. Excited to do the more casual option to set the tone .

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