How to Plan the Perfect Rehearsal Dinner Menu (2022)

Your rehearsal dinner menu is an opportunity to really have some fun, particularly if your wedding reception leans more formal with a seated, multi-course dinner and traditional entree options. Most couples want their rehearsal dinner to feel completely different and more casual than their actual wedding day. Use yours to inject your personality and preferences as a couple with a meal that will set the tone for the rest of your wedding weekend.

We consulted destination event producer Stefanie Cove of Stefanie Cove and Company (the mastermind behind countless stunning celebrity weddings, including those of Karlie Kloss and Molly Sims) for her expert tips to plan the ultimate rehearsal dinner menu.

Meet the Expert

Stefanie Cove is the founder of Stefanie Cove and Co., a full-service event-planning business serving clients across the globe. Based in Los Angeles, Cove has over 15 years of experience in the industry.

(Video) 4 WEDDING TIPS For Planning a Rehearsal Dinner

Rehearsal Dinner Menu Planning Tips

When it comes to planning a rehearsal dinner menu, there are plenty of things to consider. Everything from the location of the party to the number of people invited to the time of year can factor into what's being served.

Think About Timing

“Consider what your guests will enjoy, but in the end, serve what you want to eat. It is your wedding weekend," says Cove.With that in mind, there are plenty of elements to think about while executing your vision. For example, think about logistics and timing. You don’t want to eat dinner too late. “Guests are traveling from other time zones earlier that day, and you don’t want to go to bed late, either," she notes.

Pick Food That's Easy to Eat

When you’re thinking about your rehearsal dinner menu items, make sure the food is easy to eat. “Maybe guests are meeting each other for the first time at their table that night. They don’t want to be embarrassed trying to eat a complicated or messy menu item,” warns Cove. She suggests choosing more risky items as appetizers or passed hors d’oeuvres and going a little safer with the entree selection.

Consider the Visual Presentation of the Meal

Also, when it comes to the food, Cove suggests asking your chef or caterer what they love to cook and what they do best. “If they aren’t a trained sushi chef, don’t make them do sushi,” she says.In addition, consider the whole meal from a visual perspective. “Incorporate menu items that spark conversation at the table by using beautiful presentation and color or unique items,” says Cove.

“Make sure you have enough staff and great staff to execute your vision for the menu,” says Cove. “In my opinion, it doesn’t matter how good the food is if the service isn’t there.”

(Video) How to Plan a Rehearsal Dinner!

Forgo Tradition

Who says it has to be a rehearsal dinner? Flip tradition on its head entirely and do lunch instead. “Something I see trending is ditching the traditional rehearsal dinner and doing a daytime event instead,” says Cove. “Beach barbecues and margaritas and ceviche come to mind.”

Give a Nod to Your Roots

“Include special menu items (or a complete menu theme) to reflect the groom’s family roots, whether it’s a beer from his favorite brewery back home or asking the caterer to use his grandma’s famous apple pie recipe for dessert,” says Cove. “For a Spanish client recently, we designed the entire menu based on authentic Spanish cuisine.”

Go for Locally Sourced and Seasonal

Let the season and your surroundings inspire the menu. For example, if you are getting married in the middle of winter, don’t push for a tomato, basil, and burrata crostini just because that’s your absolute favorite appetizer. “Well-sourced and in-season ingredients are always the best, says Cove. “Always request that your caterer use food and produce from local farms.”

It's OK to Mix and Match

“I often mix up the traditional plated dinner with family-style sides or appetizers to make the format a little less predictable,” says Cove. “French fries are always a great crowd-pleaser for the sides and a bit unexpected at a more formal event.” Serve the french fries with more unique dips, like truffle ketchup or sriracha aioli, in addition to your traditional ketchup.

(Video) How to Choose a Menu For Your Rehearsal Dinner

Don't Forget a Sweet Treat

“A rehearsal dinner is a nice format to get up and move around for the dessert course,” says Cove. “Whether you do an-old school ice cream bar (my favorite) or dessert stations full of different pies or cakes—it is nice to eat this at your own pace while mingling.”

If it’s an ice cream bar station, work in both of your favorite toppings. If it’s a pie station, you could each pick your favorite pie flavor or maybe share a family-favorite recipe with the chef to recreate.

Rehearsal Dinner Menu Themes

Whether it's a backyard barbecue, a seafood feast near the beach, or old-school Italian served family-style, themes are a fun way to tie a rehearsal dinner together. Here are a few ways to make yours memorable.

Mediterranean Feast

“Another menu I have loved doing for a rehearsal dinner is a family-style Mediterranean dinner,” says Cove. “It is perfect, light, and can feel very different from the elegant wedding dinner the following night. I love starting with traditional chickpea tahini spread, tzatziki, warm pita, grilled octopus... I could go on and on.”

(Video) How to Plan A Rehearsal Dinner

Mexican Fiesta

Mexican vibes really work well, depending on the location,” says Cove. “I am a fan of stations (not buffets), which are separated by item and manned by a chef, where guests can make their own taco plates." Have plenty of margaritas and Coronas on hand, too!

BBQ Night

Another crowd-pleaser option: barbecue stations with all the works, including pulled pork sliders, fried chicken, cornbread, mac and cheese, and collard greens. Just make sure you have plenty of wet naps and napkins on hand for guests to keep their hands clean.

Catch of the Day

Let the location inspire your rehearsal dinner menu. “If your event is by the beach, I love a casual rehearsal dinner featuring oysters, caviar, french fries, and Champagne,” says Cove. What could be more celebratory (and delicious) than that?

Crab Boil

“Crab boils are another great way to incorporate fresh seafood,” says Cove. “Plus, everyone loves to eat with their hands. We love a classic Cape Cod-style rehearsal dinner with fresh crab and crawfish, mixed with corn and potatoes all poured out in the center of the table with cute gingham tablecloths.”

Classic Italian

“An all-time favorite is always an Italian theme,” says Cove. There’s one catch: “You have to have a chef who can make the pasta perfectly for large groups—this is key.” Doing a pizza station is also a fairly safe bet, but mix things up beyond simple pizza and add great seasonal vegetables for a unique twist. For fall, think sweet potato and kale or, if you’re getting married in spring or early summer, do a white cheese and ramp pizza.

(Video) WEDDING 💍 WEDNESDAY TIPS ON PLANNING YOUR REHEARSAL DINNER 🍗🍖🥐🥩🍔🌭🥗🍤🧆

Spanish Tapas

“We sometimes do stations made up of all Spanish tapas,” says Cove. Think garlic grilled prawns, chorizo, mini paella pans, patatas bravas, etc. And although this might seem obvious, just make sure you have plenty for your guests—it takes a lot of small plates to fill people up, and you don’t want guests hungover for the big wedding day.

Sushi Spread

If your go-to date-night food is sushi, then turn your rehearsal dinner into a sushi extravaganza. But, if your venue or caterer doesn’t specialize in sushi, Cove suggests closing down the best sushi restaurant in town for the night as a great alternative.

FAQs

What is the average size rehearsal dinner? ›

It depends on several factors, including the size of your wedding party and immediate family, explains Tolento. "Some couples have only a few attendants or a smaller family contributing to the size of the dinner. The average couple has about 10 to 12 wedding party members in total," Tolento says.

What is expected at a rehearsal dinner? ›

The fathers of the bride and groom typically give speeches during the dinner. Rehearsal dinners are also a great time for sharing special memories in speeches given by any bridal party member. You can also invite other guests to participate in the story-telling.

What is a good dessert for a rehearsal dinner? ›

Rehearsal dinner desserts
  • Outrageously Good Stuffed Celery. Easy To Make Appetizers. ...
  • No Bake Mini Cheesecakes. ...
  • Pink Baby Shower Petit Four How-To. ...
  • tracy lau. ...
  • Raspberry Almond Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies. ...
  • Melting Moments. ...
  • Lemon Meringue Tarts. ...
  • No Bake White Chocolate Cheesecake Tarts with Lemon - The Weary Chef.

Do you have favors at a rehearsal dinner? ›

While it's quite common for the bride and groom to bring gifts to the rehearsal dinner (which they'll distribute to their parents and their wedding party), it's unusual to see guests arrive with a gift in hand, as well.

Who gives speeches at the rehearsal dinner? ›

Who Gives a Rehearsal Dinner Toast? The host of the rehearsal dinner (traditionally the father of the groom in a heterosexual couple) gives the first speech. This person is followed by members of the wedding party that won't be speaking at the reception (typically anyone other than the maid of honor and the best man).

What toasts are given at the rehearsal dinner? ›

Toast Topics

Share a story or funny anecdote that reflects the relationship of the bride and groom. It could be how the couple first met or a funny story about them. Share the couple's engagement story. Include inspirational love quotes in your toast.

How do you budget for a rehearsal dinner? ›

How to Save Money on Your Rehearsal Dinner
  1. Keep the guest list small.
  2. Book your dinner at a fun (and cheap) restaurant.
  3. Plan your wedding rehearsal dinner at home.
  4. Find cheap catering for your rehearsal dinner food.
  5. DIY your rehearsal dinner food.
5 Jul 2022

How far in advance do you send out rehearsal dinner invitations? ›

When do the rehearsal dinner invitations go out? It's best to send them four weeks before the event and, of course, after the wedding invitation. You should never put the rehearsal dinner invite in with the wedding invite.

How long does a wedding rehearsal usually last? ›

A question that we often receive is, “How long does a rehearsal take?” The short answer is an hour. An hour is what we schedule for the rehearsal, but in reality the actual rehearsal takes 20 to 30 minutes from start to finish at the most.

Does the mother of the groom buy the bride a gift? ›

Traditionally, the mother of the groom does give the bride a gift. It is a custom for the mother to give the bride a gift as a gesture from one woman to another from two families.

Do parents give gifts at rehearsal dinner? ›

Gifts: The only gifts expected at the rehearsal dinner, are those for the wedding party. Disperse wedding party gifts to the groom's best man and groomsmen, along with the bride's maid-of-honor and bridesmaids. Give gifts to the ring bearer and flower girl as well. Gifts for parents and in-laws are optional.

Does the mother of the groom give a speech at the rehearsal dinner? ›

The mother of the groom can give a speech or just a toast at the rehearsal dinner, as she is one of the hosts of the event. There are some details that a speech should include, such as special memories, stories about the couple, and of course, the toast.

What is groom's parents responsible for? ›

What Does the Groom's Family Pay For, Traditionally? The groom's family is responsible for corsages and boutonnieres for immediate members of both families, the lodging of the groom's attendants (if you have offered to help pay for this expense), and sometimes the costs of the rehearsal dinner.

Do you need to serve dessert at rehearsal dinner? ›

Dessert. At a traditional rehearsal dinner, the groom's cake normally concludes the dinner. Of course, not every rehearsal dinner has to have a groom's cake. Other treats can be served, but every good dinner should end with a yummy dessert.

What grooms mother do? ›

Traditionally speaking, the mother of the groom is responsible for planning and hosting the rehearsal dinner with the grooms' father (typically) the night before the wedding. This is one of the biggest mother of the groom responsibilities, so make sure you start planning the dinner about six months in advance.

Do you decorate for a rehearsal dinner at a restaurant? ›

When it comes to rehearsal dinner decorations at a restaurant, try to keep it to a minimum unless your budget is a little more generous than the average American. This event doesn't last nearly as long and very few people will see them. There's not much sense in spending money you don't really have to.

Do you invite out of town guests to rehearsal dinner? ›

Out-of-Town Guests

For guests that are traveling for your big day, it's a nice token to extend a rehearsal dinner invitation. They're taking on the expense of time and money to celebrate you, so including them in your pre-wedding celebrations is often customary.

Who walks mother of groom down aisle? ›

The groom might opt to escort his mother down the aisle and to her seat in the front row, followed closely behind by the groom's father. This gives the groom an opportunity to give his parents a hug before taking his place at the altar.

What does the father of the groom do at the rehearsal dinner? ›

Host (or Attend) the Rehearsal Dinner

Traditionally, the groom's parents host the rehearsal dinner, which usually takes place the night before the wedding. This is the groom's father's opportunity to act as the host for the evening, helping plan the event in honor of the couple.

How long should a mother of the groom speech be? ›

How Long Should a Mother of the Groom Speech Be? When it comes to length, "short and sweet it the way to go," says wedding planner Nora Sheils of Bridal Bliss in Lake Oswego, Oregon. She says that 3 to 5 minutes is the perfect amount to time to get your point across.

How long should rehearsal dinner toasts be? ›

How long is a wedding rehearsal toast? Keep toasts between three to five minutes. Although you're not as pressed for time as you might be at the wedding, a short and sweet toast is always more pleasant than a long speech that might get boring or lose steam.

Who is in charge of the rehearsal dinner? ›

The Hosts. Traditionally, the groom's parents are the hosts of the rehearsal dinner, since the bride's family customarily pays for the wedding. But given the more relaxed standards of modern times, other relatives, close friends, or even the couple themselves can plan and pay for the event.

Do you toast the bride or groom at rehearsal dinner? ›

Rehearsal Dinner Toasts

The first toast is made by the dinner's host—usually the groom's father—during the main course. The toast is often met by a "return toast" from the bride's father.

What is the purpose of a rehearsal dinner? ›

The purpose of the rehearsal dinner is for the relatives and friends of the bride and groom to meet and have a good time. The couple generally takes this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped with the wedding preparations.

What do you wear to a casual rehearsal dinner? ›

For casual rehearsal dinners, men should wear polos or button downs with dress pants (or slacks), and women should wear sundresses or blouses with skirts or pants."

How does a wedding rehearsal work? ›

A wedding rehearsal is a run-through of the ceremony, usually conducted the day before. The wedding officiant, venue manager, or wedding planner/coordinator will go over each aspect of the ceremony, from the processional to the recessional. There's no rule that says you must have a wedding rehearsal.

What does mother of the groom wear to rehearsal dinner? ›

What's The Theme? If a wedding and rehearsal dinner invitation specify a theme or dress code, it must be respected. If the fine print says 'black tie', then the mother of the bride should wear a full-length gown (the same goes for the mother of the groom).

Should aunts and uncles be invited to rehearsal dinner? ›

Family. Of course your parents should be in attendance at your rehearsal dinner along with your grandparents and your siblings. You are not obligated to invite your extended family, but most couples do include aunts and uncles; especially ones they are close to.

When should RSVP be rehearsal dinner? ›

The RSVP date.

Ask your guests to send you their replies about three to four weeks before the date of the rehearsal dinner.

Who runs a wedding rehearsal? ›

This is normally the responsibility of the coordinator at your ceremony site, or your wedding planner if you have one. Many of our couples will also ask a friend or family member to help run the rehearsal and cue everyone for their entrance to the ceremony, which is a great option.

Who does the groom walk down the aisle with? ›

Groom. Traditionally, he walks down the aisle solo but some grooms prefer walking down the aisle escorted by both parents. Other grooms prefer a more subtle approach by entering the ceremony from the side of the venue (following the officiant and followed by the groomsmen) to take his place at the altar.

Does the bride walk down the aisle during rehearsal? ›

The bride is never supposed to practice walking down the aisle during her rehearsal. Apparently, this practice will bring bad luck or evil spirits to the bride.

What should the mother of the groom not do? ›

Here are a few things a mother-of-the-groom shouldn't do.
  • Don't overshadow the bride's mother. ...
  • Don't act (or dress) like a bridesmaid. ...
  • Don't get too critical. ...
  • Don't steal the bride's spotlight with your mother-of-the-groom outfit. ...
  • Don't try to invite extra guests. ...
  • Don't skip the pre-wedding events.
2 Jul 2019

Can mother of groom wear same color as mother of bride? ›

Color: Who Coordinates with Whom? Traditionally, the mother of the bride has been the first to choose her dress. The color of the mother of the groom's dress should complement, but not match it. This is easier than it sounds because no two hues are exactly alike.

Which mother walks down the aisle first? ›

The groom's parents precede the bride's mother during the processional. Here's a rundown: After the ushers have seated all of the guests, the grandparents start up the aisle, followed by the groom's parents. Then the bride's mother takes her turn. She is the last to be seated before the bridal party procession begins.

Who buys the mother of the groom gift? ›

Some soonlyweds choose to give the mother of the groom a gift as a couple, while others prefer to take care of their own parents' presents. It's also acceptable for the groom's S.O. to buy the mother of the groom a gift, especially if she really went the extra mile in fulfilling her wedding duties.

Do plus ones go to rehearsal dinner? ›

Having bridesmaids and groomsmen bring a plus-one is at your discretion, especially if you're hoping to have a more intimate rehearsal dinner, but spouses and long-term partners are typically recommended.

What should the father of the groom say at the rehearsal dinner? ›

[Groom,] as your father I am very proud to know you. I have had the rare pleasure of watching you grow from a little baby into a wonderful young man. You cannot possibly know how pride I am of you and how much I love you. Congratulations to you and your lovely wife on your wedding day.

What does the mother of the groom pay for? ›

As a guide, here's a list of the expenses traditionally covered by the parents of the groom: the wedding rings, officiant's fee, marriage license, the bride's bouquet, boutonnieres and corsages for the immediate family, music (band/DJ), liquor at the reception and the honeymoon.

Does mother of groom get ready with bride? ›

She can spend a little time with both the bride and groom.

If that's the case, she may want to start her morning with the bride and her group, then leave once she has her hair and makeup done. After, she can head to the groom's getting-ready area to help him prepare for his walk down the aisle.

How much money should groom's parents give? ›

“We suggest no less than $100, but prefer $350 or more since that is an average fee for most wedding musicians when compared to others involved with the ceremony.” Another cost the groom's family takes care of is the officiant's lodging.

How much money should I give my son as a wedding gift? ›

For closer friends and family, you may want to consider going to $200, or higher if you can afford it. For others, $100 to $150 is more than okay as a wedding gift amount.

Do the groom's parents walk down the aisle? ›

Groom's parents

It's optional to honor the groom's parents by having them walk down the aisle. They can be seated after all of the guests and before the mother of the bride.

Who gives speeches at the rehearsal dinner? ›

Who Gives a Rehearsal Dinner Toast? The host of the rehearsal dinner (traditionally the father of the groom in a heterosexual couple) gives the first speech. This person is followed by members of the wedding party that won't be speaking at the reception (typically anyone other than the maid of honor and the best man).

What is the groom's family supposed to pay for? ›

What Does the Groom's Family Pay For, Traditionally? The groom's family is responsible for corsages and boutonnieres for immediate members of both families, the lodging of the groom's attendants (if you have offered to help pay for this expense), and sometimes the costs of the rehearsal dinner.

Who pays for the rehearsal dinner? ›

Tradition dictates that the groom's family pays for the full cost of the rehearsal dinner, even though the bride's family and friends attend the event as well. That includes food, drink, venue fees, entertainment, and transportation. Often the groom's family cherishes this responsibility.

What do you say in a rehearsal dinner speech? ›

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming to the rehearsal dinner. It means to world to us that all of you are here with us tonight to help us prepare for our wedding. Now eat, drink, enjoy yourselves, and get a good night's sleep. We all have a huge day ahead tomorrow.

What does the mother of the groom do at the rehearsal dinner? ›

The mother of the groom can give a speech or just a toast at the rehearsal dinner, as she is one of the hosts of the event. There are some details that a speech should include, such as special memories, stories about the couple, and of course, the toast.

Does mother of groom speak at rehearsal dinner? ›

According to tradition, the mother and father of the groom give a speech during the rehearsal dinner. This is because traditionally the groom's parents hosted the rehearsal dinner while the bride's parents hosting the wedding.

How long should rehearsal dinner toast be? ›

How long is a wedding rehearsal toast? Keep toasts between three to five minutes. Although you're not as pressed for time as you might be at the wedding, a short and sweet toast is always more pleasant than a long speech that might get boring or lose steam.

What should the mother of the groom not do? ›

Here are a few things a mother-of-the-groom shouldn't do.
  • Don't overshadow the bride's mother. ...
  • Don't act (or dress) like a bridesmaid. ...
  • Don't get too critical. ...
  • Don't steal the bride's spotlight with your mother-of-the-groom outfit. ...
  • Don't try to invite extra guests. ...
  • Don't skip the pre-wedding events.
2 Jul 2019

Who walks mother of groom down aisle? ›

The groom might opt to escort his mother down the aisle and to her seat in the front row, followed closely behind by the groom's father. This gives the groom an opportunity to give his parents a hug before taking his place at the altar.

What is the mother of the groom responsible for? ›

Traditionally speaking, the mother of the groom is responsible for planning and hosting the rehearsal dinner with the grooms' father (typically) the night before the wedding. This is one of the biggest mother of the groom responsibilities, so make sure you start planning the dinner about six months in advance.

Does mother of groom get ready with bride? ›

She can spend a little time with both the bride and groom.

If that's the case, she may want to start her morning with the bride and her group, then leave once she has her hair and makeup done. After, she can head to the groom's getting-ready area to help him prepare for his walk down the aisle.

Does the mother of the groom give a gift to the bride? ›

Traditionally, the mother of the groom does give the bride a gift. It is a custom for the mother to give the bride a gift as a gesture from one woman to another from two families.

Are aunts and uncles invited to the rehearsal dinner? ›

Family. Of course your parents should be in attendance at your rehearsal dinner along with your grandparents and your siblings. You are not obligated to invite your extended family, but most couples do include aunts and uncles; especially ones they are close to.

What does the father of the groom do at the rehearsal dinner? ›

Host (or Attend) the Rehearsal Dinner

Traditionally, the groom's parents host the rehearsal dinner, which usually takes place the night before the wedding. This is the groom's father's opportunity to act as the host for the evening, helping plan the event in honor of the couple.

What should the mother of the groom say in his speech? ›

Express your gratitude and share how grateful you are that they were able to celebrate your son's wedding with you. Talk about your son. Katelyn Peterson of Wedding Words, a wedding vow and speech writing service, advises sharing two to three "short and concise" stories about your son that spotlights their personality.

What role does the father of the groom play? ›

As the father of the groom you have the exciting role of being an integral part of the wedding party without having any speeches (traditionally) or too much pressure, so as one of the more relaxed members of the bridal party make it your role to help keep everyone calm with words of encouragement – and be ready with ...

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