Wedding

15 Wedding Rehearsal Dinner Ideas You Can Personalize

Designing a rehearsal dinner that represents you and your fiancé helps kick off your wedding weekend in an unforgettable way. With your family and closest friends gathered together, the rehearsal night is a special time to celebrate and enjoy quality time.

If you’re looking for creative wedding rehearsal dinner ideas, you’ve come to the right place. We’re sharing our top 15 ideas for a rehearsal dinner that will blow your guests away.

From decoration to food to entertainment, we have great rehearsal dinner ideas for every couple and season. With your vision in mind, create your rehearsal dinner invites that capture your spirit and give guests a preview of the special evening ahead.

1. Use your personal style

Table setting at rehearsal dinner

Your rehearsal is the official start of your wedding weekend—and helps set the stage for what’s to come. When planning, try to tie in your rehearsal dinner with the overall vibe of your wedding. It doesn’t need to match your wedding scheme exactly, but should create cohesion between the two events. Whether your rehearsal will be the night or two nights before your wedding, create a special evening where you can connect with the people closest to you.

2. Be inclusive

Rehearsal dinner guests at table

Standard tradition is to invite your wedding party and immediate family to the rehearsal dinner. To stretch the circle wider, you can offer invitations to participants in your wedding and other important people in your life.

Ideas for extra invites include:

  • Significant others or plus ones of your wedding party
  • Your readers and their plus ones
  • Grandparents and godparents
  • Parents of any kid attendants like your ring bearer and flower girl
  • Your officiant and their plus one
  • Mistress and master of ceremonies
  • Family and close friends who have traveled from out of town

It’s not so much about size as it is about having the people there who mean the most to you. Consider your budget, then select individuals who you’d love to share the evening with.

3. Choose a formal or informal setting

Table setting at dinner

If you envision a laid back, informal rehearsal dinner, choose a setting to match—like a backyard barbeque, community hall or casual restaurant. If you’re wanting something more elegant and formal, opt for a hotel venue or upscale restaurant.

In deciding if you’d rather go the formal or informal route, either match your rehearsal dinner to your wedding scheme or make the evening entirely unique.

4. Create a light-hearted vibe

Guest playing yard games

Because your rehearsal dinner is a special opportunity for people to enjoy a smaller gathering, design an environment where guests can easily relax. You can play calming music in the background, offer yard games for guests to play or have a bonfire once it gets dark. By creating a vibe where people can unwind, they’ll savor the evening and be ready to party on your big day.

5. Add special meaning

Guests holding hands around table

Looking for wedding rehearsal dinner ideas that make your evening personal? Include elements that reflect you and your fiancé’s style.

Ways to personalize your evening include:

  • Short speeches or toasts by those not speaking at the wedding (keep it brief)
  • Have a prayer or blessing said before the meal
  • Present a slideshow of photos that highlights your relationship
  • Play a short video made by you and your fiancé

When you add a personal touch, the night becomes more meaningful and guests become more connected with your love story.

6. Pick a theme, if that’s your style

Appetizers for wedding rehearsal dinner

Adding a theme to your rehearsal dinner is a simple way to make it festive and unique. You can either correlate your theme with your wedding or keep it entirely separate.

Consider ideas like a Hawaiian luau, Spanish tapas night or Mexican-themed fiesta. Or, choose a color scheme like lavender or black and gold. If you’re looking for other creative approaches, try bowling, karaoke or a sports themed evening. Whatever you decide, make sure it fits with what you and your fiancé truly desire.

7. Go light on the decorations

Guests at dinner

Your rehearsal dinner venue doesn’t need to be extravagantly decorated (save that for the wedding!). But feel free to brighten the space with tasteful, upbeat decorations like a string of lights, table runners or fresh flowers. Decide on a simple color scheme to ensure your decor looks cohesive.

8. Opt for foods that make you feel good

Dessert display

While your entire menu doesn’t have to be super healthy, you’ll want to choose items that won’t make you feel bloated or tired for your big day, like lots of fried foods. The best rehearsal dinner food ideas are ones that are filling, healthy and different than what you’ll serve on your big day.

9. Offer a festive bar

Cocktails

Bring a fun twist to the evening by providing drinks that guests won’t see at the wedding. Do you and your fiancé share a signature drink? Or do your friends have a fancy for Moscow Mules? Go with options that are specific to your personality and tastes—and trust us, everyone will be happy.

10. Create an easy-to-mingle layout

Guests standing and socializing

Arrange your tables in a way that makes it possible for people to move around and talk with various people at the party. For example, leave three or four feet between tables for easy maneuvering. Round, rectangle or square tables will do the trick. Just be sure to chart your room to make it easy for guests to connect and enjoy the night together.

11. Provide entertainment

Band at rehearsal dinner

Though not always necessary, you can offer entertainment to liven up the night. Take a look at your budget and see what makes sense for your venue and personal style.

Easy entertainment ideas:

  • Have a local band play
  • Offer yard games
  • Play a slideshow
  • Prompt storytelling about the couple
  • Dancing
  • Bonfire
  • Billiard games like pool and darts

12. Honor your loved ones

Thank you gifts

If you have gifts for your wedding party and parents, the rehearsal dinner is a beautiful time to honor them. It’s convenient, too, especially if your wedding party needs to wear their gifts on the big day (think: necklaces and bowties). You can also give thank you gifts to other special people who are helping you, like your mistress and master of ceremony.

13. Show the love to your fiancé

Couple at rehearsal dinner

In the midst of your rehearsal night, it can be easy to forget the most important person: your fiancé. Surprise them with a small gift, slideshow or their favorite dessert. Make sure to spend at least some of the evening together, even if it’s just for a few moments. You want to feel happy and connected with one another heading into your big day.

14. Communicate any final details

Couple with pastor

You’ll probably have some last minute things to tell your fiancé, wedding party or officiant. Optimize your time by sharing any quick reminders at your rehearsal dinner. Wrap up any final handoffs and day-of instructions.

15. Keep the night stress-free

Gay couple at rehearsal dinner

Above all, make your rehearsal dinner as stress-free as possible. Send out your dinner invites well in advance. Coordinate your menu and guest number days ahead of time. And consider giving yourself a cut-off time for the evening. You want to be well-rested and feeling your best for the big day.

Your wedding rehearsal dinner is a beautiful evening to share with the people who are closest to you, and celebrate everything that’s about to come. Be sure to choose wedding invites and stationery that bring everything to life.