How to Plan a Destination Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

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There’s no better way to kick off the perfect Colorado destination wedding weekend than with a warm and welcoming rehearsal dinner! This event is a wonderful opportunity for two families to get to know each other in a more relaxed environment. It’s also a chance for the couple to spend quality time with guests and relieve some of that pre-wedding tension. But what IS a rehearsal dinner? And how does it work for a destination wedding?


The rehearsal dinner is a gathering of relatives and friends following the ceremony rehearsal. It’s traditionally held the night before the wedding, although if you’re having a longer wedding weekend, you could schedule it up two days before the main event. Speeches are given, the wedding party are often given their thank you gifts and the couple thank those who have helped with the planning. The rehearsal dinner is traditionally hosted by the groom’s parents, but you don’t have to stick to this as a rule. Who pays for what is now completely up to those involved and specific to your unique situation.


The guest list for a rehearsal dinner should always include immediate family as well as anyone who is involved in the wedding party or ceremony (and their dates or spouses). This includes the bridesmaids, groomsmen, readers and parents of any child attendants. The officiant and his or her spouse is also often invited, especially if you have a personal relationship with them.

For a destination wedding, the guest list can be a little more complicated. For smaller destination weddings where everyone who attends has traveled to be there, many couples simply include all their guests. However, for larger weddings, your budget may not accommodate this. You have a few options:

  • Host an intimate dinner with just family and the wedding party, then meet up with all your other guests for drinks or dessert.
  • Instead of a sit-down meal, opt for a more casual event like a barbecue.
  • Host an intimate dinner two nights before the wedding, and then throw a more casual welcome party or cocktail reception the night before the wedding (or vice versa).


Most couples make it easy on themselves and opt to throw their rehearsal dinner at the resort where they’re having their destination wedding or at a favorite restaurant. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you’d like to do something a bit different, choose a unique location. It could be a garden or park, an art gallery, a bowling alley or a karaoke bar. If your wedding destination is meaningful to you in some way, try to find a location that has sentimental value. For a mountainside wedding, you won’t find a better summer location than in the great outdoors, maybe lakeside, with a view of the peaks!

Here are some more destination wedding rehearsal dinner tips to keep in mind:

  • Include information about the event (including the dress code) in your guest welcome bags.
  • Invite your photographer to the rehearsal dinner, especially if they have traveled to work at your wedding. This will allow them to become familiar with the major players, which will help when organizing group portraits.
  • If you’re sending out rehearsal party invitations, be sure to get them out as early as possible, so guests can plan travel and accommodation in good time. They can be included in the wedding invitation but they don’t have to be.
  • Start and finish early. Obviously this will depend on what time your rehearsal finishes, but if possible, start dinner around 6pm. That way you can get plenty of beauty sleep.
  • Wear white! White will make you easier to find it the crowd and make you feel distinctly bridal. A flirty jumpsuit or romper is perfectly acceptable if you’d prefer not to wear a dress.
  • Facilitate mingling among your guests. Set your tables out in a way that people can move around and serve dinner via a grazing table or family-style platters.

Most importantly, make sure your rehearsal dinner doesn’t overshadow the wedding itself. It should be more casual than the big day with a bit less decor. After all, the best is yet to come!

Photo by Lacie Hansen

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