17 Feb Wedding Rehearsal Dinner 101

Your wedding venue has been booked, and you’ve bought the dress, hired the band, set the menu and had a fun and creative bridal shower—now what? It’s time to plan your rehearsal dinner.

The rehearsal dinner of the past was simply a meal following the wedding rehearsal. Rehearsal dinners today are an occasion for the two families, the bridal party and sometimes out-of-town guests to get to know each other in a relaxed setting before the hectic wedding day. On your wedding day, the guest list will be much larger and there will be a set schedule to ensure the proper flow of the reception. Use the rehearsal dinner as time to spend with those nearest and dearest to you.

Want to host a fresh and fun rehearsal dinner? Just because it’s the official start to your wedding weekend doesn’t mean it has to be an extension of the wedding itself. We have a few ideas to make it an event that is truly worthy of kicking off your special celebration.

Themed Stations

Themed stations are a great way to add your own personal touch. How about a station themed around where you met, your first date, where he proposed or a favorite pastime? You can also consider an overall theme for the rehearsal party. Looking forward to your island honeymoon? Host a tropical rehearsal dinner complete with piña coladas, daiquiris, jerk chicken, shrimp kabobs with tropical fruits and more.

All About the Groom

RR groom cake

While planning a wedding, it often seems like everything is all about the bride. The rehearsal dinner is a great opportunity to make the groom feel like the star! Host a backyard BBQ, bring in a bartender for a beer pairing featuring his favorite brews or center the party’s theme around his favorite hobby. A groom’s cake that reflects his personality and interests is a great way to give him some attention, too.

Ethnic Fare

If you weren’t able to honor some family customs for your big day, serving a menu of traditional ethnic food is a great opportunity to make up for that. Greek, Italian, Indian or Asian-style dishes—the sky’s the limit when tying your rehearsal dinner menu to your roots.

We’re not just talking different countries—each region of the United States has its own traditions and staple foods, too. Does your family hail from New England? How about hosting a traditional clambake? Did you grow up in the South? Honor your Southern origin with a picnic including a menu of fried chicken, biscuits and pecan pie.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Dinner

Imagine that? A rehearsal dinner doesn’t have to be held at dinner time! If you’re the type that wants the night before your wedding to be completely relaxing and stress-free, consider hosting a luncheon or even a brunch.

An Intimate Gathering

Maybe you just want to sit down for a full service meal and enjoy an intimate gathering with all of the people who care about you most. Rehearsal dinners are a tradition for a very specific reason—to gather with those who are closest to you before you enter into a new and exciting part of your life. You don’t have to have a lot of fanfare, just your family and closest friends.

A Formal Affair

RR food

Did your budget limit you from having the extravagant, fantasy wedding you always dreamed about? Good news! The rehearsal dinner has a much smaller guest list, so it gives you the opportunity to provide a menu or venue that might have been out of reach for the actual wedding.

Remember, your rehearsal dinner doesn’t have to be an offshoot of your wedding reception and there is no need to throw two identical parties. You don’t want to upstage your reception. Let your rehearsal dinner to be the introduction to the weekend and the reception be the main event!

Ready to start planning your party? Schedule a consultation with one of our event managers today!

Robert Ryan Catering and Design plans and executes over 400 events each year, boasts a five-star rating on WeddingWire and has received WeddingWire’s Couple’s Choice/Bride’s Choice Award seven years in a row. Learn more about Robert Ryan Catering & Design and tour our venues. Subscribe to our e-newsletter for exclusive offers, up-to-date news and recipes from our executive chef.

Ronna Dewey



From inception to execution, Robert Ryan Catering & Design works with you to realize your vision for your event, and translate it into a successful affair.