Wedding Rehearsals: The Complete Guide For Couples

jennifer skulski wedding hashers guest author

Jennifer Skulski

Published: Dec 1, 2021

Last Updated: Sep 21, 2023

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In order to ensure your wedding ceremony goes off without a hitch, you’ll want to have a wedding rehearsal. Your wedding rehearsal is the time to walk through the logistics of your big day. What’s the order of the ceremony? When does everyone process down the aisle? Who stands where? What’s everyone’s role? 

By planning a wedding rehearsal dinner, you and your wedding party will be able to get all these burning questions straightened out.

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What Is The Wedding Rehearsal?

A typical wedding rehearsal involves conducting a run-through of your wedding day ceremony. This rehearsal is usually held the day before the wedding and will last less than an hour.

During the rehearsal, your wedding officiant or wedding planner will help go over the order of the ceremony, the processional, the recessional, and everything in between.

Once you figure out all the logistics of your ceremony with the rehearsal, it’s then tradition to have a rehearsal dinner where you can celebrate with your family and wedding party before the big day.

wedding rehearsal picture

Wedding Rehearsal: What Not To Forget 

1. Read Through The Order Of The Ceremony

Understanding the order of the wedding ceremony is an important step during the wedding rehearsal.

You’ll want to clearly go over the series of events and prepare all the necessary items you’ll need throughout your ceremony whether that includes candles, flowers, rings, hymns, religious texts, prayers, vows, wine, glass, jewelry, or other traditional items or accessories.

wedding rehearsal fiances

2. Line Up Your Bridesmaids And Groomsmen

No matter how big your wedding party may be, you’ll want to line up your bridesmaids and groomsmen and pair them up in order to make for a smooth processional and recessional.

Typically, the maid of honor gets paired with the best man and the rest you can simply pair off how you see fit.

wedding day lineup photo
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3. Practice The Processional And Recessional

The processional is the start of the ceremony that ends with the big reveal of seeing the bride walk down the aisle to her future spouse, traditionally accompanied by her father.

As such a special and pivotal part of the ceremony, you’ll want to make sure you practice the wedding processional to make sure everyone knows when to walk down the aisle and with whom.

wedding processional photo

4. Make Sure Everyone Knows Their Roles

For all those in your wedding party or other guests with designated roles during your ceremony, you’ll want to make sure each one of them fully understands their responsibilities during your wedding rehearsal. This is the time to explain exactly when they’re needed and what they need to do. 

wedding rehearsal with wedding planner

Common roles are:

Maid Of Honor

In charge of being the Bride’s go-to gal throughout the day to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.

Best Man

In charge of being the groom’s right-hand man throughout the day to help ensure that the ceremony goes off without a hitch.

Flower Girl

Will process in with the ring bearer behind the groomsmen and bridesmaids. This young girl has the important task of adorning the aisle with flower petals in preparation for the bride’s entrance.

Ring Bearer

Aside from being adorable, the young ring bearer has the pivotal task of bringing the wedding bands down the aisle. However, if this seems too risky of responsibility, you could always leave the youngling in charge of plastic rings and entrust the real bands to the best man.

Father And Mother Of The Bride And Groom

Traditionally, the father of the bride is the one who escorts his daughter down the aisle and passes her along to her future husband.

The mother of the bride and the parents of the groom typically will have front-row seats to the ceremony and may have other important roles throughout the night such as delivering readings, prayers, blessings, or taking on other responsibilities to ensure their children’s wedding day is a special one.

Wedding Rehearsal Etiquette

Who Should Be Invited?

Couples get to decide who they wish to invite to their wedding rehearsal, but typically it’s a night for immediate family and those with important roles to play during the ceremony. The rehearsal is the run-through for the real thing, so anyone who’s involved in making the magic happen should be included so they’ll know exactly what to do when the big day arrives.

This additional meet-up and celebration traditionally consists of the bride and groom, their parents and grandparents, their bridal party and wedding party, and any ushers, readers, or other key guests who need a better understanding of how the wedding day should run.

Wedding rehearsal dinner

Who Coordinates And Pays For The Rehearsal?

Traditionally, the bride’s family is to pay for the wedding ceremony, leaving the groom’s family to pay for the wedding rehearsal dinner.

While this is traditional rehearsal dinner etiquette, many modern couples choose to split the expenses between each other, or the parents from both sides may split the cost amongst themselves.

creekside dinner

What Is The Attire At A Wedding Rehearsal?

Typically, the rehearsal can still be a rather dressy affair, depending on the venue. While the attire doesn’t have to be as formal as the bridesmaid dresses and men’s suits worn for the actual wedding day, most wedding rehearsal dinners go by a semi-casual dress code with a dress or nice slacks for women and a collared shirt and dress pants for men.

If you and your partner have a different dress code in mind for the wedding rehearsal, you can decide on your own attire suggestions and inform your rehearsal guests of the expectations. It can be as casual or as formal as you’d like it to be.

wedding rehearsal attire
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How To Plan A Wedding Rehearsal

The Wedding Rehearsal Venue

When planning your wedding rehearsal, you’ll first need to consider what venue you’d like to have host it. Oftentimes, the wedding rehearsal begins at the site of your ceremony whether that be a home, backyard, or place of worship.

Here you’ll practice or run through the order of your ceremony, then you’ll take your guests to a venue or restaurant for the celebratory wedding rehearsal dinner.

wedding rehearsal dinner location

What To Consider When Choosing A Venue

Your wedding rehearsal venue could be as simple or as elaborate as you’d like. Common venues include renting out a private room in a nice restaurant or a fancy banquet room at a hotel.

When choosing your rehearsal venue, you’ll want to consider the size of your invited group.

If you’re only inviting a few guests to go over the details the night before, you can stick to a more casual venue like a restaurant, church hall, or even your own home.

However, if your rehearsal group is fairly large, you’ll need to find a space that can accommodate the numbers such as a more traditional wedding venue that specializes in larger gatherings.

When To Have The Wedding Rehearsal

Typically, the wedding rehearsal occurs the night before the wedding. It’s a great way to keep the roles and responsibilities fresh in everyone’s mind as you fit in a practice round less than 24 hours before the real deal.

Doing it as close to the actual wedding day as possible is best as you’ll also need to take into account the traveling your guests may have to do to attend the rehearsal as well as any overnight accommodations your guests may also need.

If you have friends and family flying in from all over, informing them they need to arrive a day or so before the wedding for the rehearsal is a rather reasonable request.

when to have the wedding rehearsal

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Wedding Rehearsal Invitations

Best Time To Send Rehearsal Invitations

The wedding rehearsal is a more casual event, making wedding rehearsal invitations a lesser priority in comparison to the more formal wedding invitations. However, if you’d like to send out rehearsal invitations, it’d be best to do so at least four weeks prior to your big day.

Wedding Rehearsal Invitations Ideas

In an effort to keep the rehearsal more casual and to be more environmentally friendly as well, you may want to consider sending digital rehearsal invites instead. Digital invitations can be a simple, fun, and effective way to get the word out without having to deal with the struggles of printing, postage, and mailing.

Another idea to help minimize the cost of extra invitation mailing is to add the rehearsal dinner invite to your actual wedding invitation.

This option is best for those having a small wedding who know well ahead of time who will be in their wedding party and which guests will have any other additional roles in their ceremony that will need to attend the rehearsal.

If you’re looking for a way to make your wedding rehearsal invitation stand out, you may want to consider having it match the theme of your wedding. This is a great way to keep all your wedding-related events on brand while also getting everyone excited for your coordinated wedding theme.

themed invitation

Wedding Rehearsal Menu

Now comes the question of what should be on the menu at your rehearsal dinner. This decision is entirely up to you and your partner and may largely depend upon the venue you ultimately choose.

If you’re keeping your rehearsal dinner small and at your favorite local restaurant, having each guest order their own individual meal from the menu shouldn’t be an issue.

If you’re at a larger venue, you may consider using the site’s catering team or even hiring one for the occasion. 

Regardless, you don’t need to go overboard with the food; that’s what the wedding reception is for. Keep the rehearsal menu simple with a basic chicken entree or even a pasta dinner buffet.

You may even decide to go with something on the lighter side by serving a variety of smaller appetizers instead of having a full dinner. 

rehearsal dinner food ideas

5 Wedding Rehearsal Themes To Expect in 2022

If you and your partner are interested in keeping the wedding rehearsal dinner fun and memorable with a cohesive rehearsal theme, these are the top options to consider.

1. Wine Tasting

A wine-tasting rehearsal theme can be a fun and interactive experience to kick off your wedding celebration weekend. Embrace the fun wine-tasting vibe by creating custom napkins and cups to match your theme.

2. Murder Mystery Dinner Party

If you’re looking to get extra creative for your rehearsal dinner, turn your celebration into a murder mystery party. This would be a great theme for a close-knit group of family and friends to catch up and relieve some stress as they enjoy a fun, theatrical night before the big day.

3. Food Truck Rehearsal Dinner

Renting food trucks for your rehearsal dinner is a fantastic solution for those couples who are unsure of what they wish to serve.

Instead of settling on a restaurant or catering team, embrace the experience of a food truck rental where all your guests can share in the fun of trying out new, creative foods from a local business on wheels.

food truck rehearsal dinner

4. Cocktail Hour Wedding Rehearsal

A cocktail hour wedding rehearsal is a great way to keep the night moving along. Allow the celebration to be more social as you and your guests catch up with friends and family in a cocktail hour setting.

It’ll also keep the rehearsal on the shorter side rather than having a lengthy sit-down dinner. This may be a good idea in order to get plenty of rest for your upcoming big day.

5. Backyard Fiesta

Another lovely rehearsal theme to consider would be a backyard fiesta. You don’t need to rent out a fancy location for your small wedding rehearsal when you can create a fun, loving, and intimate celebration in your own backyard with barbecue, fire pit, and some snacks.

backyard dinner

Let The Rehearsing Begin

After learning all about the wedding rehearsal dinner, it’s time to start planning the event and rehearse to your heart’s content.

The rehearsal dinner is a flexible celebration that you can personalize the way you and your partner want. Use it as a logistical way to run through and prepare for your ceremony or simply enjoy the night as a way to reconnect with old family and friends.


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