What Exactly Happens at a Rehearsal Dinner?

What Happens at a Rehearsal Dinner


Wedding rehearsals are an important necessity: Practicing getting down the aisle in order will make sure you're all on your A-game come wedding day! The other benefit? Rehearsals are followed by rehearsal dinners. This "party before the party" kicks off your wedding weekend. The most important part of a rehearsal dinner is the chance it offers for both of your families to spend a little more time together before your wedding day arrives.

While the type of rehearsal dinner you have, from a formal sit-down dinner to a backyard bbq, is up to you, there are a few things that you should make sure to add to the timeline. Our experts weigh in on what goes down at a rehearsal dinner.


The first, of course, is to eat! Whether you're having dinner with just your immediate families or inviting the entire guest list for a pre-wedding feast, it wouldn't be a rehearsal dinner without, well, dinner.


The rehearsal dinner is also a great time to distribute gifts to your wedding party and your parents if you aren't planning to do so on your wedding day. You'll be in a smaller crowd and a have little more time to hand out and open gifts.


Usually, the hosts of the event will kick things off, followed by the groom toasting his bride and her family. You could also stand up together and offer a more personal toast to your families and wedding party at this time. Want to limit who is speaking on your actual wedding day? Cut down on mic time during your reception by scheduling some of the toasts during the rehearsal dinner, whether it's a free-for-all or a setlist of who is making a toast. For anyone who may want to present a roast instead of a toast, the rehearsal dinner is the more appropriate venue for some good-natured fun.


Now on to dessert. Traditionally, the groom's cake is served during the rehearsal dinner as well. Of course, you can serve it alongside the wedding cake on your wedding day, but every good party needs something sweet!

Before everyone heads home for the night, make sure to give them a quick refresher on the next day's schedule, including any important timeline details or last-minute changes.

  • Who is invited to a wedding rehearsal dinner?

    From immediate family members (parents, siblings, and grandparents) and close extended family to bridal party members and out-of-town guests, the rehearsal dinner typically consists of a tight-knit group of family and friends that will be participating in the ceremony.  

  • What do you wear to a wedding rehearsal dinner?

    The dress code depends on when and where the rehearsal dinner takes place. As a rule of thumb, the rehearsal dinner will be less formal than the wedding itself.  

  • Who pays for the wedding rehearsal dinner?

    As per tradition, the groom's family typically pays for the rehearsal dinner. This includes everything from food and drink to venue fees, entertainment, and transportation. 

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