10 Wedding Rehearsal Dinner Ideas Your Friends and Family Will Actually Love
The wedding rehearsal dinner is the perfect time to run through all of your carefully crafted plans for your wedding day to make sure everything runs smoothly. You can use this time to pinpoint any hiccups and address them before the main event. While planning rehearsal dinner ideas might seem like an additional item on your to-do list, it’s well worth the time and effort.
This guide is full of memorable ideas, rehearsal dinner invitations, and décor suggestions that will help you plan a fun and productive evening before your big day.
How To Make A Wedding Rehearsal Dinner Fun
The trick to making a wedding rehearsal fun? Make it your own! Try to plan the dinner around your personality or even the personalities of some special members of your bridal party. Use this as a chance to thank them for their time and hard work. Consider unique dinner venues, fun cocktails, entertaining games, and more. Whatever you decide to do, just be sure that it revolves around your guests for the evening. Take time to speak to and thank each person and do your best to make it a memorable night for them, since they’ll be doing the same for you!
What to do at a rehearsal dinner?
First and foremost, you’ll want to run through the schedule for the following day. Make sure your bridal party knows where to be and when. What to wear, where to stand, who to walk to their seat, these are all things you need to discuss so there are no questions left to ask while you’re getting ready to say “I do.”
It’s traditional to offer dinner to your bridal party after the rehearsal and that’s where the fun comes in. It’s time to treat your friends and family who have put so much time into helping you plan your special day. Say thank you with these unforgettable rehearsal dinner ideas.
A Fancy Sit-Down Dinner
Your guests have likely done a lot to help you up to this point. Treat them to a special sit-down dinner where they won’t worry about photo schedules or checking your hair and makeup. Choose a pretty invitation with ornate dinnerware to set the mood for the dinner. Serve delicious champagne, share gifts with your bridal party, and allow everyone to relax and eat to their heart’s content after a great rehearsal.
For elegant decorations for a rehearsal dinner, try to utilize some of the same decor items you’ll use in your wedding. Borrow a couple of centerpieces or ask if your florist can make small replicas of your centerpieces that you can send home with special members of your bridal party or family members as thank yous. If you’re at a restaurant venue, you likely won’t need many decorations and can let the venue speak for itself.
Turn The Focus To Your Guests
Take it to the next level and make the entire rehearsal dinner all about your bridal party. Show your gratitude by turning the focus to your maid of honor and best man by dedicating a speech and a toast to them before they’ll do the same for you at the wedding.
Show each and every person how grateful you are to have them as part of your big day with personal details like the mother of the groom’s favorite meal or the father of the bride’s favorite dessert.
For the decorations for this rehearsal dinner, use photos you have with you and your guests as accents throughout the party. The older the photos, the better. If you’ll be using frames or photo decor for your wedding, you can borrow it and use it to frame the photos of your wonderful guests. Consider creating a short video with clips of you and your friends and family to show during the night. If you don’t have the wiggle room in your budget to use a large screen to show the video, you could DIY a projector screen, or set up a laptop surrounded by photos of your friends where guests can watch and look at photos.
A Friendly and Competitive Game Night
Everyone can blow off a little steam with some friendly competition. After the rehearsal, set up a few great games your guests can enjoy as they unwind from the day. If you’re able to host outside, consider Yard Jenga, or an oversized game of tic-tac-toe or Connect Four on the lawn. Cornhole and ladder ball are also two great outdoor games for friends to play. If you’re still outside after the sun goes down, create a magical glow with mason jar lanterns or strings of lights hung from the trees or placed in paths along the yard. You can stay on theme with a rustic string of lights rehearsal dinner invitation.
If you’ll be hosting inside or in case of bad weather, classic board games will come in handy. Checkers, Clue, Scrabble, and Monopoly are all great ideas. If you’d rather include everyone in the same activity, you could also host a trivia night where everyone breaks into teams to compete in a grand test of knowledge.
Serve a plethora of easy finger-food appetizers that guests can munch on while they play along with beer and wine to keep things simple and fun.
Opt For A Rehearsal Brunch
If a rehearsal dinner is just not quite your vibe, that’s okay too! Try throwing a rehearsal brunch instead. You could have a morning rehearsal followed by brunch, or brunch followed by an afternoon rehearsal. This frees up the night before the wedding for any other odds and ends you need to take care of.
For a rehearsal brunch, casual and chic is a great aesthetic. Vases of fresh flowers on the tables as well as on a buffet of brunch foods add a cheery feel. Choose in-season flowers and clear vases. Since brunch is a daytime affair, feel free to use vibrant colors and bright decorations.
Serve mimosas or bellinis alongside traditional brunch food like eggs benedicts, french toast, bagels, and lots of bacon. Create a fun build-your-own mimosa bar and allow guests to have fun tasting their own versions with different types of juices, fresh fruits, and herbs for an aromatic garnish.
Book a Food Truck
Find a local food truck and let your guests fill their bellies after the wedding practice. Food trucks are known for their unique bites and create a casual, fun vibe for the night. Choose a truck that has food for everyone on your guest list. Be particularly aware if anyone has dietary restrictions that the food truck can cater to them and offer up vegetarian, gluten-free or other options. The food truck will likely be the main event and the main course, so make sure nobody feels left out or goes hungry.
To ensure your guests are comfortable, you may need to set up or rent a few tables and chairs (or borrow some from the venue for the wedding). For decorations, find photos of yourselves with the rehearsal dinner guests and frame them as centerpieces. Enjoy reminiscing as you talk with your friends and family about when and where the photos were taken. Simple candles in clear glass holders will keep everything well-lit after the sun goes down.
Host A Cozy and Casual Bonfire
A rustic forest dinner invitation sets the mood for a fun-filled evening under the stars. Invite your friends to enjoy a warm and lively bonfire party after the rehearsal has finished. Make sure you have lots of chairs and foldable tables for comfortable places to sit and place drinks or plates of food.
For dinner, consider doing a meal using the fire, like hot dogs or steak and potato foil packs, or grill up some cheeseburgers with all the fixings. For drinks, have a thermos of boozy hot chocolate or brew up some strong Irish coffee for a warming beverage if the night gets cool.
For rehearsal dinner decorations, offer cozy blankets and pillows if the weather gets chilly. Have s’mores station centerpieces at each table where guests can grab graham crackers, chocolate, marshmallows, and other tasty treats to roast over the fire. Use plaid or checkered tablecloths and burlap accents for a rustic and picnic-like feel. String warm, yellow twinkle lights around the tables for an inviting glow. Battery-powered lights are great for outdoors and won’t require any cords or outlets.
Go With the Groom’s Choice
Allow the groom to take this item off the bride’s plate and come up with the rehearsal dinner ideas. There may have been several ideas that were sent to the cutting room floor during the planning of the wedding, and now is the time to revisit those ideas and see if they may work for the rehearsal dinner.
Maybe the groom wanted ribs as a wedding dinner option, which was vetoed. Serve ribs at the rehearsal. If the wedding cake is a three-tiered floral masterpiece, have the groom pick his ideal cake or dessert to serve.
Allow this dinner to be as casual or as elegant as you like and if the groom needs a little help planning, offer up an easy party planning checklist. It could be a wine or beer pairing event or it could be grilled hot dogs and pitchers of homemade margaritas, the bottom line is that the plans are chosen by the groom and allow all of your guests to have a good time.
Throw A Theme Party
Since the wedding day will likely be a more formal affair, let things get a little wild the night before by hosting a theme party. A Gatsby party makes for a stylish theme that guests can put their own spin on. Choose an elegant black and gold rehearsal invitation and stock up on champagne and coupe glasses. Serve 1920s party bites like deviled eggs, shrimp cocktail, and oysters Rockefeller. For the main course try a glazed ham with pretty duchess potatoes.
For decor, go with a black and gold color scheme with lots of glitter and sparkle. Create centerpieces by filling vases with large feathers and long strings of pearls or beads. You could also use glass cloches filled with battery-powered fairy lights for a sparkly glow on all the tables. Set up a photo booth or a wall for a photo backdrop so everyone can leave with great memories and picture proof of a wonderful Gatsby-themed night.
Some other theme options include you could choose from:
- A fiesta theme party
- A tea party
- Tropical tiki party
- A masquerade party
Try Out A Local Venue
Particularly if you’re hosting out-of-town guests or if you’re an out-of-towner yourself having a destination wedding, research some popular local venues and make reservations for your bridal party and special guests. This gives you all a chance to get a real feel for the location and what it has to offer.
Ask the venue if they offer a tasting menu or even a prix fixe menu allowing for simple ordering, serving, and tasting. This allows guests to taste the best that the local chef has to offer, without the pressure of deciding. As with the food truck wedding rehearsal idea, be sure to inquire about any dietary restrictions and inform the restaurant well ahead of time to avoid any mishaps on the night of the dinner.
Offer Up Craft Cocktails
If you can book your wedding bartender for an additional night, consider having them whip up a few specialty cocktails for your special guests. Ask the bartender to create two to three craft drinks — of their choosing or yours — and allow your friends to sip and relax for the evening.
For a fun and interactive event, see if the bartender might also be able to teach your guests how to make a few cocktails by hand. Old Fashioned, Manhattans, and martinis all make for fun and engaging drinks to create. Print little cards that each guest can take home with the ingredients and instructions for the cocktails they made.
Serve classic cocktail party appetizers and finger foods that allow guests to much and chat as they mix, shake, stir, and sip. Charcuterie boards and fruit platters also make a great option for this fun cocktail party.
Enjoy These Memorable Rehearsal Dinner Ideas with Family and Friends
No matter which idea you choose, the most important thing is that you enjoy the time before your big day with your family and friends. Create new memories, discuss old memories, and be sure to share your gratitude and happiness with all of the people close to you.
Choose a fun theme, send the right invitations, pick the right decorations for your rehearsal dinner, and have a wonderful evening with the special people in your life.
Photo Credits: Evie S., Photos by Lanty, Karthik Balakrishnan, Anthony Persegol, Annie Gray, Taylor Leopold, Jon Tyson on Unsplash