Rehearsal Dinners are Not What They Used to Be

With all of the stress and meticulous planning that goes into coordinating your entire wedding day, the last thing you want to do is worry about executing ANOTHER wedding-centric event: your rehearsal dinner. But, fear not! Rehearsal dinners can now be as customized as your wedding day, in that they can be as grand or modest as you please. 


What is a Rehearsal Dinner?

Historically, a rehearsal dinner is an event held the night before the wedding, immediately following the wedding ceremony rehearsal. It is typically organized and hosted by the groom’s parents and usually includes family and the wedding party, as well as all of your out-of-town guests who have traveled in for the big day. Now-a-days rehearsal dinners can be anything from a full wedding pre-game to a more intimate gathering and, more often than not, couples are choosing not to stick to the rules about who to invite. Regardless of which route you decide to go, here’s advice on how to make planning as stress-free as possible. 

Think Outside the Box 


It doesn’t have to be a rehearsal dinner.  For a more wallet friendly option, consider opting for something casual like a dessert reception or a cocktail-style reception. Make sure to tell invitees in advance about the dinner (or lack thereof) menu so they can plan their evening accordingly and grab some grub before the gathering (if need be). 

While the traditional rehearsal dinner venue may be a restaurant, consider opting for a more unique venue like a local park, the beach, or a beer garden. Choosing a venue that has special meaning to the couple (i.e. where you met, where you had your first date, etc.) makes for a good story at the rehearsal dinner and makes the evening that much more special. 

Who’s Invited?

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Creating the guest list can be the hardest part of rehearsal dinner planning. If money is tight, don’t worry about slimming the rehearsal dinner down to only family and the wedding party.   It can be relaxing and pleasant to spend time with your closest family and friends the night before the big day in an intimate setting – what a way to kick off the weekend!

We also have many couples who consider Chicago a “destination” for their wedding, in that most of their guests are traveling to celebrate with them.  In this case, it’s a nice gesture to invite them to spend time with you the evening before the wedding. How about a hybrid event where you have a smaller dinner for your family and wedding party followed by a welcome cocktail party with everyone else?  Everyone is happy!

What are you planning for your rehearsal dinner? Still need some help with it? That’s why we’re here. Make sure to check out this blog post from Catalyst Wedding Co. on rehearsal dinners, featuring our very own Katherine Healy Brown!