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The Rehearsal Dinner Tradition

Updated on April 2, 2014

Rehearsal Dinner

The Rehearsal Dinner Tradition

What the Rehearsal Dinner is All About

The wedding rehearsal dinner is a celebratory event often held right after a wedding rehearsal practice, which is a walk through of the wedding ceremony with the bridal party members. The rehearsal dinner traditionally has two purposes, first to thank family and bridal party members for planning and participating in the wedding couple's marriage and it's an opportunity for the bride's and groom's family to meet and to get to know each other a little better.

Tradition states, the groom's family usually covers the cost, if possible of the rehearsal dinner. If the groom's family can't afford to cover the costs, the costs may be shared by both the groom's and bride's family. The costs can be covered by the bride's family, or covered by the wedding couple, possibly on a loan by the wedding couple, or by a wealthy family relative or friend. The rehearsal dinner can be optional, there is no requirement for it to take place.

Tutera's Tips Rehearsal Dinner

Who Gets Invited to the Rehearsal Dinner

Rehearsal dinner invitations are a nice gesture to be sent out, but there is no traditional requirement for them to be sent out and the wording does not have to be formal such as in the case of wedding invitations. An acceptable format is as follows:

Please Join Our Families for a Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

At (This Location)

At (This Date and Time)

RSVP (Host's Name) at (Host's Phone Number) or (Host's Address/Email Address)


The participants of the wedding rehearsal dinner include, the bride and the groom. the bride's parents, the groom's parents (divorced parents included), the entire wedding party including the maid of honor, the best man, all the bridesmaids, all the groomsmen, brothers and sisters of the bride and groom close in age, the flower girl's parents, the ring bearer's parents (bringing the flower girl and ring bearer is optional).

Optional invites include any of the bride and groom's grandparents, brothers and sisters of the bride and groom not close in age, bridal party member's spouses, bridal party member's dates, very close friends, close cousins, aunts, uncles and the officiant and if the officiant has a spouse they may be invited too. It's also a good idea to invite out of town guests to the rehearsal dinner too.

How To Plan a Rehearsal Dinner

Where to Find a Rehearsal Dinner Venue

The first place to check out for a rehearsal dinner venue is the location where your rehearsal practice will be, at the church or ceremony site to see what reception space they have to offer. The goal in finding a rehearsal dinner venue is finding a location that has a private area, a place that allows speeches and toasts, without disturbing the ambiance of the venue, a place that allows for a little mingling, rehearsal dinner game playing, and room for exchanging gifts with bridesmaids and groomsmen.

The rehearsal dinner location should be a venue that is a little upscale. The food served at a rehearsal dinner should be different than the food served at the wedding reception. The rehearsal does not have to be formal but can be. Ideally, the rehearsal dinner can be located in a private room, so as not to disturb other patrons, it also can be in a cordoned off area of the venue, an area that won't be obstructed or observed by outsiders.

Ethnic foods are commonplace to be served for rehearsal dinners. Foods served according to the family's heritage is a popular choice. Good meals would include Italian, Asian, Indian, fiesta Mexican, steak house meals, western style barbecue, seafood, Hawaiian luau, soul food, etc. Some couples add a theme to their rehearsal dinner, and the meal revolves around the theme, for example a Mexican theme or a Western theme.

The rehearsal dinner venue should not be located too far of a drive from the rehearsal practice, ideally with a fifteen minute drive and not more than a thirty minute drive. Also try to find a rehearsal dinner venue that is not a far drive from identified hotels in which guests are staying.

Some recommended venues for rehearsal dinner locations include banquet halls, upscale restaurants, ethnic restaurants that have a banquet area, country clubs, golf clubs, estate mansions, wineries or breweries, yachts or yacht clubs, aquariums or zoos with banquet areas, or a wedding style tent. Rehearsal dinners can also be held at a family member's home, backyard, or pool area.

The venue chosen should comfortably fit the amount of guests invited to the rehearsal dinner. a place to eat, an area in which a speeches and toasts can be heard by those in attendance, has a spot for mingling, and gifts can be exchanged. Food can be doled out a number of different ways at a rehearsal dinner. Food can be served with a few entrees such as at a wedding, meals can be ordered off a menu, or food can be selected off of a buffet table.

Some rehearsal dinners are set up as a cocktail party, drinks are served, and then a number of hors d'oeuvres and appetizers are delivered by trays and platters to the guests, every 6 to 7 minutes a new treat is introduced, various foods that include meats, cheeses, vegetables, pastries, sauces and dips, and seafood, foods very varied with varied textures tha are bite sized. After the rehearsal cocktail hour comes the speeches, toasts, and fun.

You can find rehearsal dinner venues by downloading wedding planning apps onto your iPhone, iPad, or Android device, downloading wedding planning apps from Google, Apple, or iTunes. One company to look for is called Wedding Selections. You can find rehearsal dinner sites using wedding directories. Look under rehearsal dinner or restaurants. Some reputable directories include , , , , , , and . Also get recommendations from family, friends, and co-workers and other wedding vendors, especially from wedding planners and caterers. You can also find rehearsal dinners online inputting your city or town followed by "restaurant". or "rehearsal dinner". The yellow pages is another option to find rehearsal dinner venues.

As for decorating a rehearsal dinner venue it often varies. Rehearsal dinners are not supposed to upstage the wedding reception. Whether to decorate or not is up to the wedding couple. Many places offer natural beauty of the venue, and their decorations will suffice. Some couples choose to decorate the venue much as they decorate their wedding reception. Just remember, not to upstage the wedding.

Some couples make the rehearsal dinner an event. Some make it a bowling party, some might make it a gold outing, some might attend a sporting event and rent a room at the venue, some might go go-cart racing. Whatever activity is chosen, make sure the venue offers a private area for speeches, toasts, and having a little fun. Some rehearsal dinners are at back yard barbecue or pool and maybe a little volleyball or other friendly sport competition between the groom's and bride's family.

Groomsman Cake

The Groomsman Cake

In recent years, the groomsman cake which is a specialty cake is often served at wedding rehearsal dinners, it has become part of the rehearsal dinner tradition. The groomsman cake is usually a manly cake, often made with the grooms' favorite cake flavor. Groomsman cakes are often made with chocolate, chocolate fudge, coffee, spice, strawberry, banana, or carrot cake. The groomsman cake should not look like a wedding cake at all. If it is tiered, it must not be white, best to be chocolate. Often the cake is molded into the shape of a hobby the groom has taken up. The cake can also be iced with the shape of a hobby. Examples of groomsman cakes are, the cake might be decorated to a sport, race car, a hobby, to a landscape, or to school colors. Some groomsman cakes are designed to a photograph provided to a baker.

Groomsman cakes are often homemade cakes, baked by the grooms' mother and sometimes baked by the bride. The groom's mother and bride need to come to agreement on who to bake the groomsman cake or order the groomsman cake from a bakery. Sometimes groomsman cakes are designed to the theme of the rehearsal dinner.

Groom's Cake

Rehearsal Dinner Roast and Toast

Wedding Rehearsal Dinner Speeches

Typically after the rehearsal dinner, the best man or father of the groom, or an emcee host gives a speech in honor of the bride and groom. The speech being given should last from 5 to 10 minutes talking about positive things about the wedding couple. Usually before the speech, the person giving the speech often goes around the room to introduce member's of the bridal party.

The best man, father of the groom or emcee host in their speech will provide some background information about the couple, may include funny stories about the couple, might talk about how they met, point out some of their good qualities, thank important people in the couple's lives, and thank some people that helped the wedding couple plan their wedding. They might also mention some information about the wedding agenda and schedule. They might end their speech with a poem, a quote, or provide some positive advice. Only positive things should be said about the wedding couple or wedding guests. Any embarrassing subjects should never be mentioned at a wedding event including inside jokes, some guests who are meeting family members for the very first time, could walk away with a bad impression, by misinterpreting family matters.

After the master or ceremonies gives their speech, often they will finish with a well wishes toast to the wedding couple. The toast drink can be champagne, wine, a clear liquid alcohol, a soda, an apple juice or grape juice. A drink that is bubbly. Water, milk, coffee, tea, and milky alcohols are not appropriate drinks for toasting, because they are not bubbly.

After the master of ceremonies finishes with their speech and toasting, he/she goes around the room and let's other attendees say a few words to and about the wedding couple and offer their toast. After the master of ceremonies, next is the groom's parents, then the bride's parents and the floor opens up to anyone who wants to say a few words and offers up a toast.

The host should inform those who are giving their speech and toast to keep the time from 1 to 3 minutes, also he/she should remind those giving a speech and toast to not get nervous and relax, they are among friends. Not too much time should be taken, the wedding couple needs a good night sleep, for the next day is a big day for them, and not a day for hangovers.

After everyone has given their well wishes and toasts to the bride and groom, it's the bride and groom's turn to thank guests for coming to enjoy their special day and to give special thanks to a few individuals who have been important people in their lives and to thank some people for helping them in their wedding planning.

After the speeches and toasts, many couples might give bridesmaid and groomsmen gifts to thank bridal party members for being important people in their lives and for participating in their wedding. Giving bridesmaid gifts and groomsmen gifts are an optional favor, it often depends on the affordability factor of the wedding couple. Some bride's may opt to hold off giving bridesmaids gifts until they meet as a group, the morning or time before the wedding.

Popular Bridesmaid Gift Ideas

Popular choices for bridesmaid gifts include; beach bag, bridesmaid jewelry and hairpiece, bridesmaid lounge chair, bridesmaid tote, clutch purse, cosmetics bag, decorative soap, diary, flasks, friendship bracelet, iPhone or iPad or cover, keepsake box, kitchen apron, lip balm, lipstick, music CD or Walkman, parasol, perfume, personalized beach towels, personalized flip flops, picture frame, spa robe, travel accessories bag, t-shirts and baseball cap, and wine & wine glass set.

Popular Groomsmen Gift Ideas

Popular choices for groomsmen gifts include; backpack cooler, barbecue tools, barware set, bottle opener, bow tie, cigars, cuff links, flask, golf accessories, grill master apron, groomsmen cooler, iPhone or iPad or cover, mask and snorkel, men's cologne, men's toiletry bag, music CD or Walkman, pen set, personalized alcohol glass, personalized handkerchiefs or pocket squares, pocket knife, pocket watch, shot glass, suspenders, tie or tie clip, wallet or money clip.

The Shoe Game

Wedding Rehearsal Games

At weddings, the bride's and groom's family members are often meeting people for the first time, and some are even meeting the bride or groom for the first time. Icebreaker games are a good way to get guests mingling and to get to know wedding guests and the wedding couple better. Here are some wedding rehearsal games to liven up the rehearsal dinner event.

The Celebrity Game

As each rehearsal dinner guest arrives at the front door, each guest is given a celebrity or sports figure they look a little like, the name or picture of a celebrity is pinned or taped to each guest's back and the guest has to ask questions to figure out which celebrity or sports figure has been placed on their back.

The Shoe Game

The shoe game is a game to show who is boss in the wedding couple's home. The wedding couple sits or stands back to back each one holding one groom's shoe and one bride's shoe. A bunch of questions is asked about who is the boss in certain situations. When a question gets asked who is the boss, the groom or the bride, either the groom's shoe or bride's shoe is raised after each question. Some questions asked might be as follows.

  1. Who is the better driver?
  2. Who drives the car when you drive together?
  3. Who proposed?
  4. Who gave the first kiss?
  5. Who controls the remote?
  6. Who does the cooking?
  7. Who does the dishes?
  8. Who washes the clothes?
  9. Who is the better cook?
  10. Who warms the bed first?
  11. Who initiates whoopie?
  12. Who makes the coffee in the morning?
  13. Who is the first to shower?
  14. Who will change the babies diaper?

Bride and Groom Trivia

The bride and groom both fill out trivia questionaires with answers, the questionaires are left at each reception table or at each place setting, the person who answers the most questions correctly wins a bottle of booze or a prize, examples of questions are as follows.

  1. What year did the bride and groom fist meet?
  2. Where did the bride and groom first meet?
  3. Where did the bride and groom go to on their first date?
  4. What's the groom's favorite movie?
  5. What is the bride's favorite movie?
  6. What's the groom's favorite sport?
  7. Who is the groom's favorite team?
  8. What is the bride's favorite hobby?
  9. What's the groom's favorite music group?
  10. What is the bride's favorite music group?
  11. Where was the bride and grooms' first kiss?
  12. What did the bride cook the groom for their first meal together?
  13. What is the bride and groom's favorite restaurant?
  14. Who proposed?
  15. Where was the proposal?

Two Truths and a Lie

Each bridesmaid writes down two experiences she had with the bride and writes down one experience that was a lie. The same is done with the groomsmen and the groom, the groomsmen write down two experiences with the groom and one experience that was a lie. All experiences are read aloud at the rehearsal dinner, the guest or bridal party member who guesses the most lies is the winner and gets a bottle of booze or a prize.

Scavenger Hunt

The bride and groom need pictures from the rehearsal dinner for the back of their wedding album. In order to collect pictures for their wedding album they will put on a scavenger hunt. At each table there will be a sheet with a number of objects or photos needed. A point is awarded for each item collected on the scavenger hunt sheet. A disposable camera or camera phone will be left on each table for the scavenger hunt. The table or individual who collects the most points wins a bottle of booze or a prize. Some examples of objects and photos are as follows.


  • paper clip
  • bar napkin
  • 2010 penny
  • a business card
  • a stamp
  • lip stick
  • toothpick
  • life saver
  • a lock of hair
  • men's comb
  • a flower petal


  • A photo of all objects together on the list
  • A photo of the groomsman's cake or dessert
  • A photo of someone from your table with the officiant
  • A photo of someone with wait staff or the cook
  • A photo of the bartender making a drink
  • A photo of an alcoholic drink in front of a guest
  • A photo of a guy surrounded by two ladies
  • A photo of a lady surrounded by three guys
  • A photo of one of the food entrees
  • A photo of a decoration
  • A photo of someone giving a speech
  • A photo of someone giving a toast
  • A photo of a flower
  • A photo of the wedding couple's car
  • A photo of the entrance of the rehearsal dinner venue outside
  • A photo of the entrance of the rehearsal dinner venue entrance
  • A photo of the bride and groom kissing
  • A photo of the bride and groom smiling
  • A photo of the bride and groom laughing
  • A photo of the bride with two bridesmaids
  • A photo of the groomsmen together
  • A photo of the bride's parents
  • A photo of the groom's parents
  • A photo of a grandparent with a bridal party member
  • A photo of the flower girl and ring bearer together or their parents
  • A photo of a place setting
  • A photo of a guest under a table
  • A photo of six guests in a picture
  • A photo of someone dancing
  • A photo of the bride with the venue manager

Treasure Hunt

Find the bridesmaid's and groomsmen gift favors. Buy gift favors, they can be the same or can be assorted. Let volunteer bridesmaids, groomsmen, and young ones participate in the treasure hunt. Have one volunteer visit the venue a few days before the rehearsal dinner in order to draw up clues, let the venue know what you are up to and get permission to set up the treasure hunt. An example of clues are as follows:

  • Clue 1 - Look under the bride's place setting
  • Clue 2 - This clue is taped under a table in the venue somewhere
  • Clue 3 - This clue is a rolled paper attached to a string hanging from a tree near the entrance
  • Clue 4 - This clue can be found in a tall glass sitting at one of the tables
  • Clue 5 - Look inside the bridesmaid's invitation envelope near her seat
  • Clue 6 - Look under a coffee cup at a grandparent's place setting
  • Clue 7 - Look inside the groom's breast pocket
  • Clue 8 - Look inside a centerpiece decoration on one of the tables
  • Clue 9 - Look next to the groomsman cake or dessert table
  • Clue 10 - Look in a small stack of napkins at the wait staff station
  • Clue 11 - Gift favors can be found wrapped in unmarked big box on a table

Bridesmaid/Groomsman Chinese Auction Game

Start with bridesmaids and groomsman gifts wrapped sitting on a table. The gifts are all assorted and nice gifts except for one which is a gag gift. The bridesmaids and groomsmen all pick numbers 1 to 10.

The numbers 1 to 10 are put into a hat or a flower girls basket or in a bingo cage. The first number gets drawn, say the number 5, the person that has the number 5 chooses a wrapped gift and opens it. The next number is drawn, say the number 7, the person with number 7 can open an unwrapped gift or steal number 5's gift. If number 5's gift is stolen, number 5 then opens a wrapped gift.

The next number goes, say number 1, that person can open a wrapped gift or steal number 5's gift or number 7's gift. If a gift is stolen, that person can steel another person's gift but not one just taken or open a wrapped gift. Play continues until all gifts are opened and all participants have their gifts.

Other rules of the bridesmaid/groomsmen Chinese Auction game. Any gift taken can't be immediately taken back, gift can be taken back after a second party takes your gift. Gifts can be claimed for keeps and can't be stolen after claiming it 3 times, the gift becomes out of play.

The bridesmaid/groomsmen Chinese Auction game can be opened to everyone at the rehearsal dinner if gifts for everyone at the rehearsal dinner can be purchased if the budget allows. The game works great up to about 50 people, after 50 people the game ends up taking too long. When you get to 50 the game lasts about an hour to an hour and a half. The game is a memorable experience from the rehearsal dinner, especially when a good gag gift is chosen for the game, guests will talk about the event years later. Make sure all the gift favors are nice gifts, some gifts can be feminine or masculine, they will tend to fall in the right hands, the gag gift could be a photo booth item, a magic gift, or something zany.


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