Etiquette of a Rehearsal Dinner

The rehearsal dinner – or groom’s dinner – is often the first event of the wedding weekend. The time where everyone can gather together, catch up with old friends and long-distance family members and of course – celebrate the couple!

Traditionally, the groom’s dinner occurs after the wedding rehearsal for the wedding party and is hosted by the groom’s parents. More and more often, couples are hosting this time themselves – which is perfectly fine, too!

Rehearsal dinners are best held at a restaurant where there is a private area for the group to eat and enjoy each other’s company without being a pest to the whole restaurant. Whether it’s a cook-out, nice restaurant or a favorite venue of the groom’s…it’s a good time for everyone to relax together before the big day.

Rehearsal Dinner Toast(Photo from Sioux Empire Wedding Network)

There’s also some etiquette to the dinner, so here’s the scoop…

  • Send invitations out a 2-3 weeks prior to the date inviting the wedding party and guests (if desired) to the dinner. Include the information for the wedding rehearsal on it and if you’d like to invite the same people to a gift opening on the day after the wedding – you could even include an insert for that. There’s no obligation to invite anyone other than the people who will be at the wedding rehearsal to the groom’s dinner – but there also is no limit, if you’d like to. It’s a nice gesture to close family friends or members who will be in town that night, other wedding participants (guest book attendants) or whomever you desire.
  • If hosted by the groom’s parents, the father of the groom will welcome the bride’s family and toast the couple at the beginning of the event.
  • At some point during the evening, the father of the bride should toast the groom’s family as well as the couple.
  • On his own time, the groom should say a few words and toast his bride…
  • …And in return, the bride toasts her groom.
  • The rehearsal dinner is the perfect time for the couple to thank their parents for everything involved in wedding and hand out gifts prepared for the bridal party and parents.
  • Traditionally, groom’s cakes are presented and served at the groom’s dinner. Usually, they are a surprise by the bride and are a fun, creatively designed cake that speaks to the groom’s interests. They are a very fun way to “tip a hat” to the groom during this event.

Groom's Cake(Photo from Dixie Fisher Cakes)

Make sure the rehearsal dinner is a fun and relaxing time for everyone involved. Brides – spend the evening soaking up the laughter and joy and make sure to RELAX before the big day.

  1. In addition to the established Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette, from my vantage point, (and if the venue is conducive to this approach) I love to have folks consider some specially-prepared entertainment too. For example, in addition to some appropriately-presented music, it can be fun to feature a bride and groom trivia game show. Also, and more common, is the often notorious, pre-planned roast and toast. “Entertainment” and “fun” are pretty much synonymous in that they both have “enjoyment” and “amusement” in their definitions. Of course. it’s absolutely necessary to keep everything marriage related and wedding appropriate in accordance with the bride and groom’s personal style.

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