Top 5 Tips for a Memorable Rehearsal Dinner

The shower! The bachelor and bachelorette bashes! The wedding! The reception! How about the rehearsal dinner? Where’s the hoopla for that event?

Don’t relegate the prelude to the wedding to second-thought status — make sure the rehearsal dinner is as well remembered an affair as the wedding. You can do this with a few key tips from The Gables at Chadds Ford’s events team pros.

First and foremost, a rehearsal dinner is usually all about the other half of the couple — the one who wasn’t honored at the shower. Accordingly, that partner’s parents are the ones who traditionally threw the shindig. In a perfect world, that offer will be forthcoming shortly after the engagement is announced! If that doesn’t happen in reality, the couple can open a conversation with the parents (and perhaps grandparents or family, depending on the situation) to gauge interest and contribution. This is just another component of budget planning and should be addressed at the same time the rest of the budget is being developed.

Go traditional or non-traditional?

This is often a budgetary consideration. Historically, the rehearsal was for the wedding party and immediate family. Over time it’s morphed into a welcome dinner for out-of-town guests, as well, but that can carry a hefty price tag. Pro tip: If possible, don’t host the rehearsal dinner at the same venue as the wedding. That way, the big wedding reveal remains special since guests haven’t been in the space. Hosing a brunch, lunch or going with a weekday event can save money, too. Pro tip two for those on a budget: Nix pro tip one if the wedding venue is willing to make you a sweet deal on the rehearsal dinner.

To theme, or not to theme?

This absolutely requires a conversation with the honoree, as some people are more “theme people” (think sports teams, BBQ, coffee and chocolate, etc.) than others, and some might be turned off by kitschy motifs from movies, music and more. (Know your audience!) However, a theme could be as simple as a color scheme, too, so there’s always room for negotiation between the partner and those funding the event. Pro tip: If you do theme the rehearsal dinner, make sure it’s different from the wedding’s theme, so guests have two unique experiences.

Dress casually, or dress up?

A casual theme will set the event apart from the wedding (see “To theme…” above), and a casual theme is often appreciated by rehearsal dinner participants who are coming from out of town. “Casual” doesn’t have to mean jeans and T-shirts, of course. It could mean business casual. Pro tip: Keep the vibe on the laid-back side by going with a buffet or food and dessert stations, with no place cards or seating assignments. This helps everyone mix and mingle, as sometimes guests haven’t yet met.

Photo by Edwin Williams Photography LLC

Play games, or not?

Games generally pop up at showers, but there’s nothing to say bride-and-groom trivia, lawn games in nice weather, or other festivities aren’t appropriate for the honoree, too. And just because someone may not be into a theme doesn’t mean games are out. Pro tip: Keep games short-and-sweet. 

The last word: If someone is funding the event, such as the groom’s parents, ask them if they’d like to kick off the rehearsal dinner with a short welcome speech. It adds a special touch to start the wedding weekend with sweet words from loved ones.

The Gables at Chadds Ford is nestled in the heart of the historic Brandywine Valley. Our combination of fresh seasonal cuisine, rustic yet elegant charm, and enchanting outdoor dining (in season) will keep you coming back, time and time again. The Gables is also the perfect venue to host your next special event, whether you are planning a wedding, rehearsal dinner, baby shower or corporate event.

Nina Malone

Photos courtesy of Edwin Williams Photography LLC (first and last) and The Gables at Chadds Ford