Planning the perfect Rehearsal/Dinner | With this Ring...

by Blair Garner of Lakeland Grande

The Rehearsal

The Wedding Rehearsal is more important that people realize. Wedding Rehearsals usually last about 1 hour and during this hour, your wedding planner will walk your bridal party through a processional of where to stand, how to walk and who to walk with for the actual wedding ceremony. This is a time to practice exactly what will take place for the ceremony. The wedding planner collaborates with your officiant and everyone involved, coordinating that all details run smoothly during the ceremony (i.e. unity candles, sand, photographers, videographer, communion taken, etc).   

Planning the perfect rehearsal dinner | With this Ring | Cinnamon Wolfe Photography | NJ Wedding Photographer

Photo by Michelle Hoffman

Let the bride and groom welcome their bridal party and guests to the rehearsal and thank them for being a part of their wedding.

You may consider having 15-20 minutes for Hors d’oeuvre before the rehearsal begins. Grab a vegetable or cheese and crackers platter and set out bottle of waters for your guests. This will allow guests to catch up beforehand which should allow less talking during the rehearsal. The young children will love having some snacks too and it will help them stay quiet. Starting your rehearsal off with a time to fellowship will bring a relaxing atmosphere even for those latecomers that may have been stuck in traffic on that Friday night.

The Rehearsal Dinner

Rehearsal Dinners are normally 2 hours depending on style of dinner. We are seeing more often that the dinner is not at the same location as the actual rehearsal. Your Wedding Planner can help provide trusted venue professionals for the rehearsal dinner.

Planning the perfect Rehearsal Dinner | With this Ring | Cinnamon Wolfe Photography | NJ Wedding Photographer

Photo by Matt Kennedy

The Traditional Rehearsal

The wedding rehearsal dinner is usually the night before on a Friday at 7pm. You may think that 7pm may be too late for some of your guests to eat dinner. However, remember that you may have out of town guests coming from work and there is always rush hour to consider as well.

During dinner around the time hors d’oeuvres or salads are being served the groom’s father and mother may stand and welcome their guests and give a toast if they feel led to.  Upon dessert being served, the bride and groom are welcome to stand and express their gratitude to their guests for being a part of their special day and may even share a cute story about the relationship.

Rehearsals We See Today

Couples are trying to save money and thinking of new ideas. Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Rehearsals held on a Thursday night for a Friday evening wedding ceremony. Many venues charge less to hold your wedding reception on a Friday night versus a Saturday.
  • Some couples stretch out their wedding festivities and have their rehearsal on Thursday evening. They hold their dinner on Friday evening and their wedding ceremony and reception on Saturday evening.
  • There are couples who are holding an early breakfast the morning of ceremony and reception. This will be great for those couples having a 5pm or 6pm Saturday wedding.

The wedding planner can help give you options according to your budget. They will provide you with unlimited information to help you stay with your budget and still have the wedding of your dreams.

Planning the perfect Rehearsal Dinner | With this Ring | Cinnamon Wolfe Photography | NJ Wedding Photographer

Photo by Matt Kennedy

What to wear

Ask yourself: “What type of dinner will it be?

Take a look at the style of the restaurant and use that as your guide to determine what to wear.

If you need extra help with what to wear, I put some suggestions together for you. Guests can use these suggestions also to help determine their attire for the Rehearsal Dinner. Here are some options:


  • Tank dress (Pastels and shades of pink are in right now)
  • A long skirt (made with Silk Taffeta or Jersey Knit) with a short sweater.
  • A strapless dress with short sweater.


  • Formal: Suit and tie (and cufflinks maybe). Make sure their ironed or steamed.
  • Informal: A nice pair of pants and a dress shirt.
  • Casual: (like a BBQ) Jeans are acceptable.


  • A simple dress works for young girls.
  • Young men may choose to wear Khaki pants and a short or long button down shirt.
Planning the perfect Rehearsal Dinner | With this Ring | Cinnamon Wolfe Photography | NJ Wedding Photographer

Photo by Matt Kennedy

Why Have a Dinner?

A rehearsal dinner is for the bride and groom’s families to get to know each other beforehand and relieve some pre-wedding day tension.

Who Pays?


The groom’s family will pay for all guests to enjoy an evening to get to know one another better. The cost of dinner truly depends on the style and venue. Typically, the rehearsal dinner should cost roughly $1,000.

What Are Seeing Today?

It is not uncommon for multiple parties to pay for the rehearsal dinner. Here are those parties:

  • Both sets of parents (Bride & Groom’s) split the cost
  • Grandparents or extended family members
  • Bride & Groom themselves

If the couple pays for the dinner, as hosts they will get the opportunity to choose the location or the style.

Who to invite to dinner


Invite your immediate families, the wedding party, out-of-town guests and anyone helping with your ceremony or reception. Be sure to invite the officiant and his wife. They may decline the offer but out of respect and appreciation, it’s good etiquette to invite them. Inviting these guests to your rehearsal dinner is a way to say ‘Thank You’.

What we see today

Many couples getting married feel they need to invite aunts and uncles and second cousins to the rehearsal dinner and you need not feel obligated. However, some religious families or even close families don’t mind the extra cost of having family members who are not involved in the wedding attend dinner. Be sure to notify the party who is paying for the dinner so they can plan accordingly.


Tangible invitation are always more helpful to guests especially those guests from out-of-town. For formal dinners, a handwritten calligraphy invitation would be best. Inviting guests to an informal dinner where you guests can wear nice pants, a skirt or tank dress, you might want to send an email or have them R.S.V.P. on your wedding website. For those casual BBQ rehearsal dinners where jeans are acceptable to be worn, calling to invite them would be acceptable.

A few things to remember when sending your rehearsal dinner invitations:

  • Send your rehearsal dinner invitations after your wedding invitations.
  • Give your guests enough time to plan ahead by sending their invitation 3-5 weeks in advance.
  • Never put a rehearsal dinner invitation in a wedding invitation.

When creating your wedding rehearsal dinner invitations make sure to provide adequate information, especially if the rehearsal is in a different location than the dinner. The clearer your invitations are the fewer questions you will be asked by your guests receiving them.  Ask your wedding planner to show you different samples of wording for your rehearsal dinner as well as your wedding day invitations.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you don’t plan to invest in a wedding planner for your special day.  Nevertheless, you can use these helpful tips as you plan your wedding rehearsal dinner. May your special day be nothing less than you’ve always dreamed it would be!

Planning the perfect Rehearsal Dinner | With this Ring | Cinnamon Wolfe Photography | NJ Wedding Photographer

Blair is a Certified Wedding Planner through The Bridal Society and her passion is to help design your dream wedding and everything leading up to it. She will help take some of the work out of your special day so you can spend more time enjoying it and less time thinking, planning and stressing. She currently resides in Florida.

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