All Things Rehearsal Dinner

Like it’s not enough that you have to plan a wedding! Then add on to that with the planning of a honeymoon (which is fun but it still entails planning). And finally add on yet another big, formal occasion. Or does it have to be? We’re here with all things rehearsal dinner.

all things rehearsal dinner

Let’s deal with some basic questions:

Do you have to have a rehearsal dinner?

Really? You don’t. First, remember that it’s a dinner to follow the… rehearsal. Are you even having a rehearsal? A lot of people don’t anymore, especially when the wedding is smaller and more intimate.

Rehearsal dinners started because weddings got so big and complicated and involved so many people that there had to be a run through the night before (or a couple of nights before), and then dinner and a celebration evolved out of that.

The other part of this tradition (and again, it’s related to having a larger wedding) is time to connect with your wedding party and immediate family. The day of the wedding those relationships don’t necessarily get the attention you would want to give them, so a smaller dinner party can help with that.

Does it have to be a dinner?

Again, nope. There are all kinds of reasons not to have it be a full out dinner. First, there’s cost. Maybe this is just too much and you’d rather use that money other ways.

Second, there’s the time and energy expended to consider.

If you don’t want all of that on your plate ((ha)), you can do it however you wish. Remember, as always, this is about you as a couple, so what feels right?

Maybe you’d like to just have an intimate gathering with some drinks and snacks.

Perhaps a luncheon better fits your mood.

Or, you may just want everyone to get together and do something fun. Rehearsal mini golf! Rehearsal roller blading! You get it.

For more ideas for alternatives to rehearsal dinners, go here.

all things rehearsal dinner

On to some basic tips for all things rehearsal dinner:

Focus on connection

Because this is, really, your inner circle, take the time to savor the conversations and the time together. Whatever you do for this, make it relaxing (or at least not totally energy depleting and exhausting).

Set a time limit

And in that vein, set a time limit and make sure everyone understands that the time limit is a real and true boundary. You need rest and rejuvenation before the big day.

One way to do this is to put the timeline on the invitation. Be precise. It sends the right message through polite clarity.

Focus on gratitude

This is your opportunity to really emphasize your gratitude for these people who have helped to bring you to this moment in your life. Take some time to focus on each of these wonderful humans. Tell those favorite stories. Don’t be shy with the love and thankfulness now!

Yeah… a photographer would be great

Not everyone does this, but having a photographer at your rehearsal dinner/event is just another way to focus on gratitude. Everyone present will appreciate preserving these memories.

You can read a little about our approach to wedding photography here.

all things rehearsal dinner

All things rehearsal dinner planning:

Decide on the hosting

Traditionally, whomever is not paying for the wedding would cover the rehearsal dinner. This would mean, in most cases, the groom’s family would be taking care of this.

But tradition-schmadition, right? How many couples are now paying for everything on their own?

Regardless, this needs to be decided. If someone other than yourself is covering the cost, it can even be nice (for you) to let them handle the whole thing. Be surprised.

If you’re hosting, this is another case where you need to decide on your budget up front. And based on that, create your invite list so you know the size of event you’re looking at.

Pick your venue

Even if you’re doing a very small rehearsal dinner, you’ll want to get this booked in plenty of time to secure your first choice. Just like the wedding venue.

If you’re doing an alternate event for your rehearsal dinner (and hey, how about some between friends and family paint ball? too much? JK), you’ll want to see how far in advance you need to schedule the date and time you need.

Decide on your theme for your rehearsal dinner

Do you want to, on a smaller scale, mimic the design and decoration choices of your wedding, or do you want to do something distinctly different? Again, this will be relative to your budget and the space.

Keep in mind how much work you want this to be. Do you really need to handcraft seating cards and centerpieces or can you go with the decor of the space that’s already there?

Send out invites

You’ll want to send out your rehearsal dinner or event invites soon after you’ve sent out your wedding invites and you’ve gotten an idea of how many are attending.

The people receiving these are very likely the core of your circles and very likely have a role in the wedding so they’re expecting this, but letting them know as far in advance as possible is still smart (and polite). So many people are traveling for weddings these days, and they need to know the schedule so they can adjust work calendars.

Prepare speeches and gifts ahead of your rehearsal dinner

This can be a good time to hand out gifts of appreciation to everyone who has been helping. Though if you’re having a rather large rehearsal dinner (some people invite anyone coming from far away), then it might not be the time for that.

And preparing some words is a good idea. You’re likely going to be feeling some wedding nerves so leaving this to spontaneity might leave you feeling disappointed in what you shared. At least have a card with some words that trigger what you want to cover.

As we always recommend here at Matt Mead Photography, the most important thing about your rehearsal dinner is that it’s what you want it to be. Start from there and you’ll never go wrong.

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matt mead photography 1821 oxford st. erie, pa 16505  (814)315-3353