Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette Guidelines


The wedding rehearsal and subsequent dinner may be the warm-up to the real deal, however it’s still important to think about the various rules and etiquette guidelines that go with said dinner. Let’s take a quick look at some of the rehearsal dinner etiquette rules to keep in mind:

Who Pays?

Who pays for the rehearsal dinner? This is the most frequently-asked etiquette question. Tradition states the rehearsal dinner and everything associated with it are paid for by the groom’s family, however in today’s world couples marry later in life. This means the parents are elderly if not deceased. There’s also the subject of second marriages, with many couples marrying for the second time opting to pay for the rehearsal dinner themselves. Friends and relatives often host rehearsal dinners as well. Think about what’s right for your wedding and go from there. This is one etiquette rule that is very subject in today’s society.

Night Before

A steadfast rehearsal dinner etiquette rule is that the dinner is always held the night before the wedding. Always. This is true regardless of when the actual wedding rehearsal is held. The dinner may be held at someone’s house, a private club or hall, or a restaurant. Dress code varies, often according to where the dinner is held, but it is never more elegant or formal than the actual wedding.


The rehearsal dinner always includes the parents of the bride and groom, the entire wedding party, the clergyman or officiant, and the children of the bride and groom if old enough (and applicable). Spouses of remarried parents are also guest list musts.


Rehearsal dinner toasts are given during the dinner, not after. They traditionally begin when the first course is being served. The groom’s father usually starts the toasts and thanks everyone for coming. He is followed by the best man, the groom, groomsmen, and perhaps a bridesmaid or two. The bride can say a few words if she wants, as well as any other guests who want to toast the happy couple.


The rehearsal dinner is the ideal time for the bride and groom to present the wedding party with their gifts. Presenting thank-you gifts on the day of the wedding is often an afterthought since there is so much else going on, making the rehearsal dinner the ideal time.

The rehearsal dinner is a great opportunity for everyone attending the wedding to meet. Keep the above tips in mind, and have fun!