Rehearsal dinner at a lakeside tiki bar

July 2, 2024

Who Gets Invited to the Rehearsal Dinner?

Planning a wedding involves numerous events, and one of the key pre-wedding gatherings is the rehearsal dinner. This event is a wonderful opportunity for close family and friends to come together in a more intimate setting before the big day. But who exactly should be on the guest list for the rehearsal dinner? Let’s break down the etiquette and essential invitees.

1. Immediate Family

Who: The immediate family members of both the bride and groom.
Why: These are the closest relatives, including parents, siblings, and grandparents. They play crucial roles in the wedding and should be part of the pre-wedding celebrations.

2. The Wedding Party

Who: All members of the wedding party, including bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls, and ring bearers.
Why: These individuals have significant roles in the ceremony. The rehearsal dinner is a chance to thank them for their support and involvement.

3. Officiant and Spouse

Who: The person officiating the wedding and their spouse, if applicable.
Why: Including the officiant in the rehearsal dinner allows them to feel integrated into the wedding events and provides an opportunity for more personal interaction.

4. Out-of-Town Guests

Who: Close friends and family members who have traveled from afar to attend the wedding.
Why: Out-of-town guests have made a special effort to be there, and including them in the rehearsal dinner shows appreciation for their commitment.

5. Special Guests

Who: This could include close friends, godparents, or mentors who have played significant roles in the couple’s lives.
Why: These individuals are often like family and have had a meaningful impact on the couple’s journey.

Considerations and Etiquette

Rehearsal dinner Tiki bar

Size and Venue

The size of your rehearsal dinner might influence the guest list. If you’re hosting a small, intimate dinner, you might limit the invites to just family and the wedding party. For larger gatherings, you can extend the invitation to include more friends and out-of-town guests.


Be clear in your invitations. Traditionally, rehearsal dinner invitations are sent separately from the wedding invitations. Send the rehearsal dinner invitations about four to six weeks before the event to give guests ample time to plan and RSVP. Ensure you provide all necessary details, such as time, location, dress code, and RSVP information.


Your budget will also play a significant role in determining the guest list. The rehearsal dinner is typically less formal than the wedding, but costs can add up depending on the venue and menu. Plan accordingly to accommodate the number of guests you wish to invite.

Speech and Toasts

The rehearsal dinner is a great time for toasts and speeches that might be too lengthy for the wedding reception. It’s common for the parents of the groom to host and make a toast, but this can be flexible based on family dynamics and preferences.

Extending the Celebration: After-Dinner Welcome Party

cocktail with an orange slice and pink flamingo toothpick
For couples looking to extend the celebration beyond the rehearsal dinner, hosting an after-dinner welcome party can be a fantastic option. This allows you to include additional guests who may not have been invited to the more intimate rehearsal dinner. It’s a wonderful way to kick off the wedding festivities and make all guests feel welcomed.

Who to Invite:

The welcome party can include everyone who will be attending the wedding. This is an opportunity to mingle with out-of-town guests, reconnect with friends, and give everyone a chance to meet before the big day.

Planning the Event:

Choose a venue that offers a relaxed atmosphere, such as a hotel lounge, a local bar, or a backyard setting. Consider light refreshments, cocktails, and maybe even some entertainment like live music or a DJ to keep the energy high.

Timing and Logistics:

Schedule the welcome party to start an hour or so after the rehearsal dinner ends, giving everyone time to transition between venues. Ensure the location is convenient for most guests, ideally near the wedding venue or accommodations.


Extending the evening with a welcome party helps guests break the ice, making the wedding day more enjoyable and less formal. It also gives the couple more time to spend with their guests, making everyone feel appreciated and included.
By incorporating a welcome party, you can set a joyful tone for the entire wedding weekend, ensuring that your guests have a memorable and engaging experience right from the start.

Vendors to Consider Hiring for Your Rehearsal Dinner and Welcome Party

Large floral arrangement with white blooms and mixed greenery hanging from ceiling of tiki bar

To ensure your rehearsal dinner runs smoothly and leaves a lasting impression, consider hiring a few key vendors to enhance the experience.

1. Caterer:

A professional caterer can elevate the dining experience, offering a variety of menu options that cater to different tastes and dietary needs. Whether you prefer a sit-down meal, a buffet, or a more casual barbecue, a caterer ensures the food is delicious and well-presented.

2. Photographer/Videographer:

Capturing the moments of your rehearsal dinner is a wonderful way to document the entire wedding journey. A photographer or videographer can provide you with beautiful memories of your interactions with close family and friends in a more relaxed setting.

3. Event Planner/Coordinator:

If you want to ensure everything goes off without a hitch, consider hiring an event planner or coordinator. They can handle all the logistics, from coordinating with vendors to managing the timeline, allowing you to focus on enjoying the evening.

4. Florist:

Adding floral arrangements can enhance the ambiance of your rehearsal dinner. A florist can create centerpieces and decor that match your wedding theme, adding a touch of elegance and beauty to the event.

5. Entertainment:

Depending on the atmosphere you want to create, you might hire a musician, band, or DJ to provide background music or entertainment. Live music can set the tone and keep guests engaged and entertained throughout the evening.

6. Transportation:

If your rehearsal dinner is at a different location from where most guests are staying, arranging transportation can be a thoughtful touch. Hiring a shuttle service or arranging for rideshares ensures everyone arrives on time and gets back safely.

By carefully selecting these vendors, you can create a seamless and enjoyable rehearsal dinner that sets the stage for a perfect wedding weekend.


The rehearsal dinner is an essential part of the wedding festivities, offering a moment for close family and friends to relax and celebrate together before the main event. By inviting immediate family, the wedding party, out-of-town guests, and special friends, you create a warm and inclusive atmosphere that sets the tone for your wedding day.
For more personalized advice on planning your perfect rehearsal dinner and other wedding events, reach out to us at Elle M Events. We’re here to help make your wedding journey smooth and memorable.
Contact us today to start planning your dream wedding! 💍✨

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