How to Plan Your Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

Let's start by figuring out what type of wedding rehearsal dinner you'd like to put together for your VIPs. As cross-cultural planners we’ve planned them all; from an ocean-view backyard in your parent's home to a fancy formal sit-down dinner at Perch LA, all the way to a casual tapas-style come-and-go casual affair at a restaurant.

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The answer to that question will depend on whether or not your attendees will be in town at the time of your rehearsal. For destination weddings, you'll want to consider a 'revolving door' type of event. You can book an area at the hotel bar where you've reserved a room block and host the bar with small-bites for a few hours. This gives your guests an opportunity to come and go as they arrive from the airport or recover from jet lag.

With a dinner night before the wedding like this, you'll want to be mindful of your energy levels. If you're an introvert like me, you'll want to make sure that you spend the majority of your day in a quiet and relaxing setting. This way you have the energy to be your best self in the evening. Also, be sure to give yourself room to replenish your energy for the morning so you can be ready for your big day.

Now that you know what type of wedding rehearsal you'll be planning for, here are a few helpful steps to guide you along the way.

SETTING THE TIME

The wedding rehearsal dinner is typically planned around the wedding rehearsal at your venue. You'll want to get in contact with your venue to make sure that there aren't other events planned that may disrupt or make your ceremony space unavailable. If you're in the clear you can set a time with them by working your way backward from the rehearsal dinner.

For example, if your wedding rehearsal dinner is scheduled for 6:00 PM give yourself and your guests some buffer room. By inviting to them arrive 15 to 30 minutes prior to your scheduled dinner time, it will give your guests time to drive to the venue or to stop by their room to freshen up. This means that it's safe to say that your wedding rehearsal should be scheduled for 4:00 or 4:30 PM depending on the driving distance from the venue to the rehearsal dinner venue. You can expect for the wedding rehearsal to run about 30 minutes with an experienced planner.

4:00 Rehearsal at the venue
5:00 Drive to the rehearsal dinner venue
5:30 Guest check-in with host
5:45 Guests are sat
6:00 Dinner begins

GUESTLIST

Before you start researching for a venue you'll want to know how many people to plan for. Take into consideration that those flying in from out of town may be delayed, but you'll still want to plan for them to attend.

The people you'll definitely want to include in the rehearsal dinner party are family members that are part of the processional and your wedding party plus their hot dates.

If you're not having a welcome party for those flying in from out of town, you'll want to consider inviting your out-of-towners to the dinner as a special thank you.

The dinner night before your wedding is an opportunity to spend quality time with your VIPs before all the festivities begin. It's hard to spend intimate time with your guests on your wedding day because of everything that’s happening from the ceremony, to the dinner and then the activities. At the very least you'll have some time before the big day to dedicate quality time with those that have been a big part of your relationship.

If you need help putting together your guest list, check out ‘Best Way to Make Your Wedding Guest List.‘

LOCATION

Now that you know the time and the guest count you can start researching a location. The main idea here is to keep it as close to the venue as possible or near the hotel where the majority of your guests will be.

Be sure to take into consideration that your guests may or may not have transportation. You’ll want to relay directions, parking instructions and cultural nuances.

CONFIRMATION

It's time to lock in the details for the rehearsal dinner. You'll want to:
- Confirm your rehearsal dinner location. Especially when you're working with restaurants where there is high turnover, it's possible for scheduled events to fall through the cracks.
- Confirm final guest count for the rehearsal dinner
- Reconfirm final details with the restaurant.
- Finalize the dinner and drink menu. Be sure to communicate dietary restrictions to the location.
- Arrange transportation as needed.

INVITATION

Now that all your details are confirmed you can officially draft and design a formal invitation or a digital invitation. You'll want to send this out one to two months before the rehearsal dinner.

I like to use Paperless Post for digital invites.

THE DETAILS

Don't forget to: 
- Shop for your rehearsal dinner outfit.
- Book hair and makeup services.
- Compose toasts for the rehearsal dinner.
- Arrange for gifts and/or welcome bags for your guests
- Send a final email reminder with the details of not only the rehearsal dinner but of the wedding rehearsal.

We’ve made it our mission to guide our multicultural couples through their vast and varying options. As cross-cultural wedding planners, we spend our days figuring out ways to help you blend and infuse your cultures into your wedding activities. Wedding planning is complicated as it is so we’re here to not only help you plan your wedding but to do it in a way that feels true and authentic to you.

I see you, friend! You’re spinning your wedding planning wheels attempting to find a way to make this all work. But you do not have to go at it alone. You’ve done well for yourselves and you have so much going on personally and professionally. Let me take you through my planning experience crafted specifically for multicultural couples. We’re not going to try to fit a square peg into a circular hole— it’s awkward and we shouldn’t be working together if we don’t connect. All of this to say that I think we should chat to see if we could be of service.

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