On the lookout for rehearsal dinner ideas? We got you covered. 

While rehearsal dinners bring together your entire wedding party, they are not intended to be nearly as formal as the day of the wedding. This pre-wedding celebration lends itself well to planning a fun event that will be well remembered and enjoyed by all who attend. 

This mini-event is a great time to let creativity shine and make memories that will last a lifetime. Below you’ll find some of our tips that break free from the traditional wine-and-dine modality.

13 Rehearsal Dinner Ideas

Mirror Your Honeymoon

champagne, cutlery and dinner table set in a country theme as one of the best ideas for rehearsal dinner ideas

If you and your soon-to-be spouse are planning a getaway honeymoon, consider scheduling a rehearsal dinner that mirrors your destination. While it is common for the groom’s parents to prepare and pay for the rehearsal dinner, there is no harm in suggesting a few of your own ideas.

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For this unique theme, consider what will make your honeymoon unique.  Feature food and cocktails from the area you’ll be visiting. Add decor that speaks to the local culture and style of your destination. Have fun with this idea and let your wedding party enjoy being included in the essence of your once in a lifetime trip.

Get Outdoors

outdoor beach parties as one of the best rehearsal dinner ideas

If you have planned your wedding during one of the warmer months of the year, consider getting outside for your rehearsal dinner. There are many ways to take a party outdoors, and doing so can put you and your friends and family at ease.

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woman sitting near snack on blanket at picnic as one of the best ideas for rehearsal dinner ideas

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To execute a perfect picnic rehearsal dinner, consider all of the elements you’d love to see at a picnic.

Some of our favorite picks include:

  • Checkered Blankets
  • Beautiful Baskets
  • Hearty Sandwiches
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    Fun Summer Inspired Beverages

This theme will shine best with excellent decor. Collect blankets and baskets ahead of time so that you aren’t crunched for time the day before your wedding. Also, consider having the sandwiches made by one of your favorite local delis.


man grilling barbecue sausages as one of the best rehearsal dinner ideas

If you’re from the south, you know how good BBQ can be. The rehearsal dinner is often the first time out-of-town guests meet each other and hosting a fun outdoor BBQ can be a low-pressure way for everyone to become acquainted.

If you have a favorite BBQ place, consider having them cater your rehearsal dinner, or book your event at their restaurant (many have outdoor seating options). However, it can also be fun to show off your  BBQ skills by hosting the rehearsal dinner in your own backyard.


friends having bonfire on the beach as one of the best rehearsal dinner ideas

While this idea probably brings back memories of youth, it can be an excellent choice out of the vast array of non-traditional rehearsal dinner ideas. Bonfires are fun, get people outside and often feature simple foods.

To inspire nostalgia and bring joy to your guests, consider roasting hotdogs over this open fire and ending the evening with smores. If you’d like, you can even get creative with the ingredients you use for the smores.

In addition to the traditional chocolate bars, consider including a wide variety of mini candies for guests to melt onto their unique dessert.

Non-traditional Potluck

food potluck as one of the best ideas for rehearsal dinner ideas

If you’re facing the challenge of sticking to a strict budget, consider hosting a potluck rehearsal dinner. But, instead of your typical everyone-brings-a-casserole-dish affair, encourage your guests to bring a dish from their favorite restaurant.

This theme is best suited to small rehearsal dinner ideas, but it can be fun to see what restaurants each guest favors. Consider providing the drinks at your event and decorate the venue to look like a mock restaurant.

Casino Theme

blackjack casino card game as one of the best ideas for rehearsal dinner ideas

Playing games can certainly take the pressure off of large rehearsal dinners. As mentioned above, rehearsal dinners are meeting grounds for many of your friends and family members. By hosting a casino themed night, you can ensure that your guests enjoy themselves and leave with good memories of meeting your other loved ones.

For this idea use casino themed decor, encourage your guests to dress up a little, and hire a few professional card dealers. Be sure that this event won’t outshine your wedding, but enjoy the freedom that this party can provide.

As far as food goes, offer hors-d'oeuvres and cocktails. Also, if your wedding party features small children, consider offering a small game room for little ones to play in while the grown-ups relax and get to know each other.

Craft Beer or Wine Pairing

friends having a meal and craft beer as one of the best rehearsal dinner ideas

If you and your soon-to-be spouse love craft beer or have an interest in small vineyards, consider a meal that features a professional beer or wine pairing. This idea is most efficiently executed in high-end restaurants as these venues often keep sommeliers on staff.

This idea is best for wedding parties that primarily feature adults. If several of your wedding party members are underage, this idea can leave them feeling left out of the celebration. Also, if you’ll be drinking several different alcoholic beverages, consider lining up one or two designated drivers to help out-of-town guests get back to their hotel.

Rehearsal Brunch Buffet

buffet food as one of the best rehearsal dinner ideas

If your wedding rehearsal is happening early in the morning, consider having a rehearsal brunch afterward. This idea works well when executed as a buffet that guests can pick an choose from.

Aside from being a great addition to a morning wedding rehearsal, a brunch buffet is an excellent choice for those who need to accommodate a wide variety of dietary restrictions. Brunch is a fusion meal that can feature everything from slider sandwiches to mini quiches.

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Hosting a morning rehearsal with a breakfast buffet is an excellent choice when many of your out-of-town guests won’t be arriving until the day of the wedding. This celebratory rehearsal brunch is also fantastic the day before Sunday weddings.

Pizza and Ice Cream Party

pizza party as one of the best rehearsal dinner ideas

Almost everyone loves pizza and ice cream. For a low-key rehearsal dinner, consider hosting a fun-filled pizza and ice cream party. Pick out your favorite pizza place and get to planning! You can feature a wide array of pizza toppings or even consider going with a build-your-own style of party.

This party is best when you don’t want to feature a formal sit down affair. Let your guests choose their own seats. This choice will foster a natural sense of getting to know each other.

If you and your soon-to-be spouse have a history that involves a favorite pizza or ice cream place, be sure to highlight those special memories during the celebration. Also, while some pizza places offer ice cream desserts, consider any challenges ahead of time that may present from bringing in your ice cream.

Dinner and a Movie

friends having movie night as one of the best rehearsal dinner ideas

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If both bride and groom consider themselves cinephiles a dinner and movie party can be a fun way to celebrate the upcoming wedding. There are numerous ways to execute this idea either at home or out and about.

If you’re hosting the party in a home setting, consider renting a projection system for the “movie” component of the party. Use decor that will turn your venue into the perfect little theater and don’t forget the popcorn.

Another great idea when hosting this party is to present a little movie about the bride and groom. Include how they met, any significant milestones in their relationship, and give a little behind the scenes peek into wedding day preparations.

Bowling Party

as one of the best ideas for rehearsal dinner ideas

Bowling can be a great way for all of your out-of-town guests to get to know each other while having a wonderful time. Try putting everyone’s name in a hat and splitting up lane groups at random. Also, consider offering a small prize to the guest who scores the highest by the end of the night.

Many bowling alleys offer a variety of snacks and drinks to their customers. These snacks can make for a comfortable and quick dinner. Also, call ahead and check for any specials the alley might offer for hosting large groups or parties at their facilities.

Build Your Own Burrito Fiesta

burrito for parties as one of the best ideas for rehearsal dinner ideas

Theme parties are almost always a fun choice. Try using a fiesta theme for your rehearsal dinner complete with a build your burrito bar. Any build-your-own food bar is a great solution when bringing together a group of friends and family from diverse backgrounds. Offer a wide variety of ingredients to ensure that all of your guests leave happy.

In addition to the brightly colored decor, consider hiring a salsa dance teacher to give your guests a quick salsa lesson. This fun activity is fun for people of all ages and can provide your friends and family new dance moves to show off at your wedding reception. Also, if it's in your budget, consider hiring a mariachi band to keep the evening lively.

Rehearsal Dinner Ideas:
Final Thoughts

In addition to these beautiful rehearsal dinner ideas, you can also consider a traditional sit-down dinner. Whichever choice you make, plan ahead and keep your guests well informed to avoid last minute panic. Remember, this is a celebration of your upcoming wedding day and an opportunity to make memories that will last a lifetime.

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