What are the best wedding rehearsal dinner ideas?

What are the best wedding rehearsal dinner ideas?

What is expected at a wedding rehearsal dinner?

A wedding rehearsal dinner is a tradition that has persisted for some time, thriving especially throughout North America. Dinner is a time before the wedding in which the bride and groom’s friends and family can meet and mingle. Usually held just after the wedding rehearsal and the night before the wedding, the rehearsal dinner can be as lively or chilled out as you wish. 

As tradition dictates that the bride’s family is responsible for the cost of the wedding, the groom's family is responsible for the cost of the rehearsal dinner. This also means that it is the responsibility of the groom to organize the rehearsal dinner. However, these days, tradition is flexible so many see both the wedding and rehearsal dinner as a collaborative event.

The main aim of the rehearsal dinner is to ensure everything is in place for the wedding the next day so that it runs smoothly and the day is as perfect as it can be. This is your chance to make sure everyone knows what they are doing on the wedding day, what they’re wearing, who is making a speech, and other such formalities.

As the name suggests, all of this rehearsing is done over dinner. Therefore, the night follows the trajectory of a dinner party as you take this time to spend time with those you hold closest to your heart before your big day, all whilst enjoying some delicious food.  

Ultimately, the rehearsal dinner is the perfect way to kick start your wedding weekend. You’ll afford yourself peace of mind that everything will run smoothly on your wedding day whilst enjoying some quality food with great company. 

How do you have a fun rehearsal dinner?

Many people think that rehearsal dinners are extremely formal events with no time for fun and excitement but this simply is not the case. Just like your wedding day, you want your rehearsal dinner to be fun so that everyone involved is having a good time and enjoying themselves. Think of it like a pre-party before the main event.

What exactly you want to do at your rehearsal dinner is up to you. You can throw a big party or you can have a more sophisticated sit down meal, the choice is yours. If you want to make it a fun and upbeat event, there are many different things that you can do. Here are just a few:

  • Pick a theme. Picking a silly theme is a great way to make your rehearsal dinner fun and relaxed. Choose a theme that means something to you as a couple and encourage everyone else to participate. This will allow you to share a part of your romantic journey together with your loved ones. It’s a great way to add a personal touch.
  • Speeches. The wedding rehearsal dinner is a great time for people to make speeches who are not going to have the opportunity to do so on the actual wedding day. Anyone that has something to say can jump on the mic for a couple of minutes and share some funny memories, sweet moments or meaningful anecdotes. This is a great way to lighten the mood in a sweet and emotional way.   
  • Games. You’re treating this rehearsal dinner like a party, so why not include some party games? Games are a great way to break the ice and get everyone actively involved in something fun. This is also a great tactic to entertain people whilst some of the more serious rehearsing is going on which not everyone will be directly involved in. 
  • Guest list. Deciding who will be invited to the dinner is key. Of course, those directly involved in the wedding will be invited but also feel free to invite people who you know will bring the fun to the party, whether that be family or friends. Anyone that has a wedding invitation can theoretically be invited to the rehearsal dinner - you make the rules.
  • Photography. Whilst you don’t need a professional photographer at the rehearsal dinner, make sure you do have someone or multiple people taking pictures of the night. You can even leave disposable cameras on the tables and let the guests shoot the dinner. However you do it, just make sure that pictures are taken because you’re going to want to remember every bit of this special experience. 

 How much should you spend on a rehearsal dinner?

How much you spend on your rehearsal dinner really is up to you, what you can afford and what your individual budget is. Just like with the main event, everyone has a different budget for the rehearsal dinner, so don’t worry about making it a huge lavish event, your guests won’t be expecting that from you. 

As previously mentioned, it is usually the responsibility of the groom’s family to pay for the rehearsal dinner. However, nowadays, whoever can afford to pay for the dinner will pay for it, whether that be the groom's family, the bride’s family, the couple themselves, or a generous family member. 

There are a number of factors that will determine the price of your rehearsal dinner, such as location, food, and guest size. However, on average, you can expect to pay around $1,330 on your rehearsal dinner. As a general rule of thumb, one thirtieth of the cost of your wedding is what you should consider budgeting for your dinner. 

At the end of the day, it is completely feasible to throw a brilliant wedding rehearsal dinner on a budget just as it is equally easy to splash out thousands of dollars on your dinner. It’s totally up to you!

 What kind of food do you serve at a rehearsal dinner?

The kind of food that you serve at a wedding rehearsal dinner is integral to the dinner portion of the night as you want to cater for the tastes and preferences of everyone in attendance. You might want it to mean something to you and have a personal connection to your love story, you might want to make the most of local cuisine, or you might be sentimental and get home cooked meals from family members and friends.

The options are endless, but here are a few wedding rehearsal dinner menu ideas to get you started:


Mexican food is always a great option. You can have a lot of different versions of the same food, so that there will be something for everyone. For example, you could choose to serve fajitas, quesadillas or tacos, all with various filling options. That way, there is variety without everything being too overwhelming or complicated. 

If you want a more relaxed and informal feel to your rehearsal dinner, mexican food trucks are a great option. They are something different and can be stationed at your event all evening so people can eat when they like. 


Italian food is a crowd pleaser. Italians are known for bringing people together with their hearty, delicious food, so what better way to honor that sentiment than to serve italian food at your wedding rehearsal dinner?

The classic pizza and pasta options are great rehearsal dinner foods. The way in which you serve the food will help dictate the kind of evening you want to create. For example, you can have a sit down meal with extravagant italian food, or you can set up a pizza and pasta station where a professional chef creates custom dishes for your guests on the spot.


Sushi is a great sharing food that is surprisingly filling. Sushi platters can be ordered and made in advance and brought out when you’re ready to eat, making them an extremely convenient option. 

Date night sushi is a reality of many couples, so if you were the couple who always picked sushi for your evenings together, think about incorporating that into your rehearsal dinner!


Many people don’t even think about tapas when creating their rehearsal dinner menu, but the small plates experience is extremely convenient for a rehearsal dinner. Having lots of small plates of various spanish dishes will inevitably be a crowd pleaser. 

No matter what cuisine you choose, hiring a personal chef for the occasion is a brilliant way to create an unforgettable wedding rehearsal dinner. To find and book an available chef in your area, click here!

Best Rehearsal Dinner Themes

Giving your rehearsal dinner a theme is a great way to create an all encompassing and unifying experience. A theme does not have to include everyone dressing up as characters and decorations covering the venue, it could be something as simple as a vibe that you want to create. 

Having a theme in mind will make it easier to plan and will ensure people know what to expect. To help you with your wedding rehearsal dinner planning, here are some rehearsal dinner theme ideas:


If you’re looking for summer rehearsal dinner ideas, a BBQ has to be at the top of the list. Everyone has fun at a BBQ! A BBQ is a great way to ensure a relaxed vibe whilst also making the event elegant and gourmet if you wish.

Whilst the food will obviously centred around BBQ food, you can take the theme one step further by having lawn/yard games, serving summer cocktails and having some beautiful table decorations. There is so much freedom with a BBQ theme you really can do what you want to!

You can opt for traditional BBQ foods, or you can upgrade the menu to include more gourmet versions of traditional BBQ food; think truffle mac and cheese, wagyu beef burgers and filet steaks.  

A BBQ is also a great opportunity for the men of the wedding to showcase their grilling talents. Alternatively, if you want to ensure everyone has the opportunity to relax, you could hire a private chef to deal with all the grilling and BBQing that is needed. 

Moreover, a BBQ is a backyard rehearsal dinner idea so it is the ultimate rehearsal dinner idea during covid as you can accommodate the party size that you need to in a safe and if needed, distanced manner. 

Games Night 

A games night themed wedding rehearsal dinner is an extremely fun way to get your wedding party to bond before the wedding ceremony and wedding reception. You can encourage some light hearted competition by pitting the bridal party and grooms men against each other. It is also a great opportunity to encourage out of town guests to mingle with those closer to home. 

You can have a broad themed games night and include as many different types as you’d like, or you can narrow down the theme even more and have a casino game night or game night based on a specific game, such as trivia or puzzle based games.  The food options are really up to you if you host a game night rehearsal dinner but more simple wedding rehearsal dinner foods are likely better suited to the casual and fun vibe created by a game night. 

Tea Time

An afternoon tea themed rehearsal dinner adapted to be more suited to dinner time can create a sophisticated and impressive rehearsal dinner theme. Whilst you can stick to the classic tea options, you can also expand your horizons and include champagne or prosecco, or even some high tea inspired cocktails to go with the meal. 

Meal wise, you can adapt traditional afternoon tea finger food into more gourmet dinner options, such as upgrading to things like bruschetta, mini tartlets, and an assortment of hot and cold capaes. 

No matter if you want a simple wedding rehearsal dinner or something more eccentric and extravagant, you want to make sure it is a fun experience for all involved as it is the ideal way to get your wedding party to bond and loosen up before the wedding itself. 

We know it is extra planning that you need to consider on top of your already heavy load of wedding planning but there are multiple things you can do to make it easier. You can hire a private chef so you don't have to worry about catering, entrust your friends and family members to be the photographers for the evening, etc. After all, it’s your wedding, you should be enjoying every moment of it.