Planning a Rehearsal Dinner

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Planning a Rehearsal Dinner

An often overlooked aspect of wedding planning is accounting for the rehearsal dinner. A wedding rehearsal dinner is a great opportunity to celebrate the couple’s big day. While some people say “rehearse what you want,” others prefer to keep the party small and intimate. Either way, you don’t want to miss out on having fun with your friends and family.

Here are some tips to help you plan the perfect rehearsal dinner.

1. Choose a Venue

You wouldn’t want to spend money on something that won’t look nice once the wedding day rolls around. The same type of care that goes into planning a wedding venue should also go into planning for the rehearsal dinner. If you plan to rent a space, make sure it’s large enough to accommodate everyone. You might even consider hiring a professional photographer to capture the moment. Sometimes the reception hall will also be available for the rehearsal dinner, so put them on the list of possible rehearsal dinner venues. A favorite restaurant is always a good choice, as well.

2. Create a Seating Chart

A seating chart is essential for ensuring everyone gets to see each other during the festivities. Review your rehearsal dinner guest list and make sure to include tables for close relatives, as well as those who aren’t related. Guests should be seated according to their relationship to the couple. If you know of people who don’t see eye-to-eye most of the time, separate them. A rehearsal dinner is not an event to be filled with drama, which could be even more likely if you are serving alcohol, which brings us to our next item.

3. Selecting Food & Drink

When planning your menu, think about what kind of delicious food will appeal to different tastes. For example, if you have vegetarians or vegans in your group, you’ll want to select dishes they’ll enjoy. If you offered a choice of dishes for the reception (e.g., steak, chicken, salmon, vegan,etc) with the wedding invitations, refer to that RSVP to get an idea of what to serve at the rehearsal dinner and how much of each you’ll need. You could even consider sending rehearsal dinner invitations with the choices on them to be 100% sure guests are getting the option each of them would like. You may also want to serve alcohol at the rehearsal dinner. If so, make sure there’s enough available for all guests. A cocktail hour is also a popular choice to keep alcohol consumption to a minimum, especially if the rehearsal dinner is the day before the wedding ceremony.

4. Decide on Entertainment

Music is an important aspect of any party. Think about whether you’d prefer to play music from a curated disc or stream it from an online source. Also, decide how long you want the entertainment to last. Some people like to dance until midnight while others would rather sit back and relax. Consider having two playlists; one of lighter dinner music to set the mood while guests eat and converse and another playlist with more lively music for dancing.

5. Set Up Table Settings

Make sure everything looks nice when guests arrive. Arrange flowers and candles appropriately. You might also choose to set up a table with a centerpiece. Consider having place cards based on your seating chart included with the table settings so that every member on your guest list knows exactly where they should be sitting. This can also help if servers will be bringing food to tables.

6. Giving Gifts

During the rehearsal dinner, guests are often given the opportunity to express their gratitude towards the bride and groom and their families. They can give gifts to each other, and even open gifts together. These gifts are often wrapped in paper, and tied with ribbon. Of all the items on this list, giving gifts would could be considered the most optional. You’ll want everyone on your guest list to feel included and some, especially those out-of-town guests who may have already spent a considerable amount on travel just to be there and support you on your special day.

7. Time for a Toast

A toast is one of those things that people don’t really think about until it’s too late. And, frankly, not everyone is good at speaking when put on the spot. If you are planning your own rehearsal dinner, include time to practice toasts, as well. If you are planning a rehearsal dinner for a friend or you are a wedding planner working with a client, don’t forget to include time for a toast and notify those who would be offering toasts in advance so they have time to practice well before the moment arrives. For an interesting twist, consider giving the ring bearer and flower girl each an opportunity to propose a toast. Sometimes, the innocence and honesty of children lends itself to the most memorable toasts.

8. Keep It Clean

It’s not uncommon for couples to get married and have the rehearsal dinner in a church setting. If you do, you’ll want to clean up after yourself. Don’t leave dirty dishes or glasses out for too long. This would be the perfect time to engage the wedding party to help with cleanup if you are going to responsible for partial or full cleanup.

9. Have Fun!

Remember, this is supposed to be fun. The rehearsal dinner is its own type of wedding party and should be approached as such. So, try to stay loose and relaxed. Enjoy the company of friends and family. After all, this is one of the most memorable events of your life!

In Conclusion

Wedding planning can be stressful, but as the actual wedding day gets closer, the happy couple should also include opportunities for themselves and wedding guests to have fun. After all, a wedding is a celebration of love, family, and community. It is a way of bringing your “villages” together. Historically, there is no better way to celebrate than by sharing a meal. Hopefully, the rules of thumb listed above will help you in creating a wedding weekend to remember.

If you are in the Jackson, MI area and are looking for wedding venues, special events space, and/or catering, call the Commonwealth Commerce Center at (517) 784-0059 or contact us to get started today.