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Rehearsal Dinner Ideas


March 25, 2024

Rehearsal Dinner Ideas

One of our favorite things about the rehearsal dinner is that it is an intimate event. That means you can scale it up or down depending on your taste, budget, and the people in your wedding party. We wanted to create a resource here for all of those scenarios. 

Throw A Party in a Small Event Venue

Rehearsal dinners typically have a guestlist of around 10-20 people. With a party this small, it is fun to go above and beyond in a small event venue. Create an ambiance with an abundance of maximalist-style decor, and treat your guest to an outside caterer or one the venue recommends. One thing that makes working with a venue so valuable is that linens and AV (audio-visual) equipment are often included, and the team on-site can share what other successful celebrations have done in the space. Take, for instance, our outdoor venue that fits 30 people seated—we have seen some very creative dinners in this space and would be happy to help you create something just as special.

Dinner at a Restaurant

With a party of up to ten, you can snag a reservation at a beautiful restaurant! A dinner like this allows everyone to order to their preferences and takes the guesswork out of menu planning and decor. We love this idea for a quiet party with intimate conversations and the basic agenda of food, drink, and quality time. 

Private Room at a Restaurant

A private room is a great idea if you have more than ten people on your guestlist or want your own space where you can be a little louder and have toasts. Dinner at a private restaurant has many of the same benefits as dinner at a restaurant, but your guests will also have the benefit of a venue where they can give toasts, and you can give out your bridal party gifts without worrying about interrupting other diners.

Catering At Your Home

Some events were almost created for a backyard party, and the rehearsal dinner feels like one of those. While you could spend time cooking up a meal for your loved ones, we recommend bringing in a caterer or ordering food if you can to take that stress off of your plate. The fun thing about having a party at home is that you can decorate as much or as little as you want, and the party can turn into a casual game night or just time to connect without any fear of hitting a curfew. 

Combine It With Your Welcome Party

With wedding welcome parties making their way to the wedding events list, we love combining it with your rehearsal dinner. Since guests will likely be in your wedding city the night before the ceremony (a common day to host the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner), it is the perfect time to host a party for everyone. Gather your wedding party early to rehearse your wedding, and then enter your wedding’s welcome party as a group. We have seen beautiful luaus, food truck parties, and even catering stations where people can choose their meals from beautiful food displays. Hosting a welcome party instead of the rehearsal dinner still allows you to celebrate with your closest friends, but also gives a taste of the festivities to come to all the people you invite. 


1. What kind of budget do I need for a rehearsal dinner?

While we can give an average budget range for a wedding, a rehearsal dinner budget has a much more significant variation. This might be a complete relief if you’ve been overwhelmed by the budget. Hosting at your home with some boxes of pizza is totally acceptable. So, this is one of those instances in wedding event planning where the budget could be a few hundred dollars to several thousand.  

2. How formal is a rehearsal dinner? 

Rehearsal dinners are less formal than the actual wedding and can range from a backyard barbecue to a themed event. We recommend letting your guests know the theme of your rehearsal dinner and any dress code you will have. This will help to alleviate a lot of the stress your wedding party and guests might have about what to wear and how formal it will be.

3. What are some examples of good rehearsal dinner themes?

The good thing about rehearsal dinners is that you don’t need a theme. But, if you find having a theme helpful in planning, we like bringing an aspect of your wedding theme to the rehearsal (for example, if your colors are blue, gold, and pale pink, you could go monochromatic with an all-blue rehearsal). A bonfire or firepit party, costume party, or even a luau works perfectly for this party. Let your imagination run and create something fun and memorable as a kickoff to the weekend for you and your closest friends!  

If you are in the stages of planning your rehearsal dinner, consider your budget, party size, and overall ambiance you want to create. If you would like to host your event in San Diego County, we have wonderful venues for you. Please reach out to our team to learn more