Wedding Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette Commonly asked questions and our advice

how to plana rehearsal dinner

Rehearsal dinner etiquette is a common question that arises during the planning of a rehearsal dinner. One of our site visitors posed this question to our Celebration Suggestions community asking for help with her son’s rehearsal dinner, so let’s assist her. She emailed us with commonly asked questions about wedding rehearsal dinner etiquette, so our answers may help many of our readers.
“Hi, I am planning our son's rehearsal dinner for this fall and have some questions on Wedding Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette. Who exactly should be invited? Should the dinner be held the night before the wedding? Any suggestions for rehearsal dinner invitation wording? Do I need decorations? This is my first time planning one or even attending one and I want to get it right. Can you help please. Many Thanks, Emma”

FAQ's on Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette

What is a Rehearsal Dinner?

A rehearsal dinner or a grooms dinner, as it also may be called, is a tradition that occurs prior to the wedding. It is a dinner, usually held after the actual wedding rehearsal which is a day or more before the wedding itself.

Who gets invited to the rehearsal dinner?

There are no hard and fast rules. It depends on your budget as well as what you want your wedding rehearsal dinner to be – a casual, intimate affair or a larger celebration. However, rehearsal dinner etiquette is that the “must invites” are the bridal party and immediate family. You can determine if you want to include a “plus 1” for the bridesmaids and ushers. You do not have to invite all the out of town guests. You do not have to invite extended families or friends. However, many do both if your finances and preferences permit.

Who pays for and plans the rehearsal dinner?

It is customary that the groom’s parents are responsible for the wedding rehearsal dinner. However, many times the couple or even a close family friend, may host it, if the groom’s family cannot afford or doesn’t want to be take on the responsibility. Most times, the couple is solicited for the type of dinner they would like.. large, small, formal, casual etc. The couple should always be cognizant of the budget of the person(s) hosting the celebration so as not to add any financial hardship.

What kind of venue is best for a rehearsal dinner?

Again, this is dependent upon your budget. It can be more formal at a restaurant or catering hall or more casual at a pub. Some more casual places we have been to for rehearsal dinners include a bowling party, an outdoor barbeque, a dinner at the groom’s home, the beach and a pizza parlor! All have been fun and all given the couples a chance to visit with those closest to them. We did ours at a family style Italian restaurant for a Pizza and Pasta dinner. Here’s how we planned our own rehearsal dinner.


Do we need to send invitations.. can we put them in with the wedding invitations?

Yes you should send invitations as you need to establish a headcount and be able to plan accordingly. Rehearsal dinner etiquette is that you DO NOT place them in with the wedding invitations as those usually come from the bride and the rehearsal dinner is usually given by the grooms family. Also wait and send them out after the bride has mailed her own invitations. Here are the rehearsal dinner invitations we created with some cute verbage. Wedding Divas by Tiny Prints has some cute ones at a very reasonable cost.

Do children come to the rehearsal dinner.. what about flower girls and ring bearers?

Yes, they may be invited. However check with your venue. If you are hosting your dinner in a bar or pub many times that would exclude children and those under 21. If you do have children in attendance, plan for it. We actually made up “goody bags” for our group, all of which were under 5. I found free “wedding” coloring pages on the web, printed those out and added some crayons. I also went to the dollar store and bought some little toys for them to play with.. matchbox cars, dolls etc. It was a brilliant idea and kept them occupied.

Do we need decorations and centerpieces?

It depends on your venue and your own preference but usually you should have some type of centerpiece on each table. Here are some easy DIY ideas for rehearsal dinner centerpieces. Here’s how our rehearsal dinner decorations looked.


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Is there a toast or speech that should be done at the rehearsal dinner?

Usually there is a toast. It typically is given by whomever is hosting the dinner. In our case, my husband spoke and welcomed the guests and then spoke about the kids history together and toasted to a long and happy life together. After that he asked if anyone else had anything to say and it was wonderful idea. Different guests spoke from short toasts to happiness to funny stories about the couple. It was not planned but turned out to be the highlight of the dinner.

Are favors necessary for a rehearsal dinner?

Favors are not required by traditional rehearsal dinner etiquette but do add a nice touch to the dinner. You can make them yourself or buy them online. AmericanBridal.com and Beau-coup have a nice assortment of favors in all price ranges. Here are the rehearsal dinner favors we made for our guests or adapt this easy idea that we used for a Bridal Shower.

For more rehearsal dinner etiquette and ideas, head over to our Wedding Fun Section here.


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