Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette


In North American tradition, a rehearsal dinner is a pre-wedding even usually held after the wedding rehearsal and the night before the wedding ceremony. Take advantage of the relaxed dinner environment, as it is a great opportunity for your two families to get to know one another before the BIG DAY.


Photos by Kyle Hamilton Photography and  Svetlana Yanova Photography

“My favourite thing to make for dinner is reservations.” — Anonymous

Who Pays

Traditional rehearsal dinner etiquette dictates that the groom’s family organizes and picks up the check for this festivity and to thank the bride’s parents for hosting the wedding. It is now common, in this day and age; that you two might foot the bill or both sets of parents may choose to do the honors together. Bottom line is you get to be the creative directors of the evening, keeping in mind, that whoever pays gets the final say in the details! Remember, the rehearsal dinner should never outshine or outclass the wedding reception.

Who do we invite?

The rehearsal dinner guest list should include; immediate family (parents and siblings), wedding party members and their spouses or significant others, ushers, flower girls and ring bearers (with their adult supervision). You should also invite your officiate and his/her spouse to dinner too. They may not come, but it’s the polite thing to do.

Cultural or religious factors may have influence on the guest list too. For example, in Jewish tradition, it’s customary to invite everyone that’s attending the wedding to the rehearsal dinner. These guests have driven or even flown, given a gift, and need to consume some grub! Period.


When should we start planning the Rehearsal Dinner

It is best to send them approximately 6-8 weeks before the event. If it’s a destination wedding, 3-6 months in advance is the general consensus. This gives your abroad guests a favourable amount of time to make basic arrangements; book their travel plans, ensure timely RSVP’s, etc.

A rehearsal dinner invite should never be put in with the wedding invite. Keeping in mind: although rehearsal dinners are part of the wedding festivities, they are really two separate events. Classic, elegant invitations are great for the wedding, but when it comes to your rehearsal dinner invites feel free to be creative with colour or themes and personalize with style.

What’s a good rehearsal dinner location?

There are so many fabulous rehearsal dinner locations it’s hard to pick one! Here at Mountain Bride, we can help steer you in the right direction. A sit-down dinner at your favourite restaurant or hotel ballroom is the norm, but there’s no reason to limit your options. Feel free to use the term “dinner” loosely – cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, a buffet, a garden party, an outdoor picnic and even a barbeque are all perfectly acceptable alternatives. Select a place that’s reasonably close to your rehearsal site so that it’s convenient for your guests. It’s best to reserve a private room, if you’ve decided on a restaurant, especially if your Dad is going to break out the naked baby slideshow.

Photo by Ramsel Kunkel Photography

What to do at a Rehearsal Dinner

The rehearsal dinner is a time to say thank you to people who have played a special role in your wedding, for their love, guidance, and support along with distributing thank you gifts. A special thank you speech made by you as a couple would be greatly appreciated and received by all.

If the groom’s parents are hosting, his father may start off by welcoming all of the guests and offering a toast to the bride and groom. Traditionally, the toast is made during the main course and is frequently met by a return toast from the father of the bride. Rehearsal dinner toasts can be a bit longer and definitely more humorous than at the wedding, so feel free to invite toasters to share their favourite memories, stories, and marriage advice.

Should we have a cake at the Rehearsal Dinner

Not necessarily. The rehearsal dinner gives you an opportunity to sample other delicious alternatives. Try to make the dessert compliment the meal. For example, if you’re serving filet mignon, a lemon confection, almond torte or crème brûlée makes a light finishing touch. Love chocolate? Chocolate works better after chicken or fish options, such as warm chocolate macaroons, triple-chocolate cheesecake, chocolate pistachio torte, or** salt caramel ice cream pops dipped in milk chocolate.

** Why have OR when you can say AND!

Think CHOCOLATE BAR! mmmmm


Photos by Kyle Hamilton Photography and  Kristi Sneddon Photography