A Fresh Take on an Old Tradition: Rehearsal Dinners


One would think that planning a wedding ceremony and reception, complete with venue selection, dresses, flowers, musicians, specialty cocktails, party favors and puppies as ring bearers would be enough! And yet, there is still another event, complete with its own list of “must-dos” that tradition says you need to tack on to the same weekend – the rehearsal dinner!

Whose idea was this anyway? After much research into the origin of the rehearsal dinner, the answer seems to be a definitive “who knows?!” They aren’t based in religious practices, and they seem to be almost exclusively American. Well, except for the time when it was believed that the Druids threw big, loud parties on the eve of matrimony to ward off any evil spirits that were lurking about. Other than that, they seem to have developed organically over the years as an expected dinner event, hosted by the groom’s parents, with a more casual feel than the wedding but with more toasts!

So, perhaps with such a murky history, it won’t offend anyone if we start to change the way the rehearsal dinner – and even the actual ceremony rehearsal – are conducted! Does the ceremony rehearsal absolutely have to happen the day before the wedding in the exact same location of the ceremony? Can’t you and your bridal party practice smiling and walking gracefully in a straight line together pretty much anywhere?

And, why not plan your rehearsal and rehearsal party for the weekend beforethe wedding, when emotions aren’t running quite as high yet and everyone’s stress level is manageable? Yes, some out-of-towners might not be included, but you can bring them up to speed on their role, and you have freed up an entire evening to spend with them the night before the shindig.

As for the usual take on the sit-down dinner at a local restaurant or country club, why not think outside the box and have some fun with this?

  • Fortunate enough to have a body of water nearby? How about a relaxing and fun dinner cruise? Imagine the romantic feel of toasting your most beloved folks as the sun sets over the water.
  • Keep it moving with a restaurant or pub crawl! Start at the local eatery where you met over a pile of nachos and have a nibble. Then, move to your favorite pasta joint for dinner before concluding the night at Krispy Kreme for dessert!
  • Were some of your first dates spent at Trivia Night? Then why can’t your rehearsal party be “Game Night?” At someone’s home or a casual venue, get out the Trivial Pursuit, Jenga and Pictionary, and enjoy the laughs! Order pizza and wings, and you’ve created a rehearsal dinner that won’t soon be forgotten.
  • If you’re convinced that your rehearsal and dinner don’t have to be the night before the wedding, consider a brunch! Hosting your bridal party and family on the Sunday prior to your celebration can be magical. And, who doesn’t love a make-your-own-waffle station paired with mimosas?

There are so many traditions that help to make a wedding celebration truly special and, while the rules have become somewhat fluid for wedding days, too, you probably want to stick to the well-proven formulas. However, how you rehearse your ceremony and then celebrate with that “night before” excitement and energy is totally up to you! Hopefully, these ideas will stir your creative juices, and you’ll be sending us pictures of your unforgettable rehearsal celebration!