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Do I Have to Have a Wedding Rehearsal (& Dinner?)


If you follow our Real Talk features, you’ll know by now that my answer to any wedding-related “Do I have to?” question is always: “No”. Whether it’s putting on a rehearsal dinner or any other wedding tradition, we are firmly in the camp of “you do you!”

Photo by West Imagery via Bridal Musings

Scheduling a rehearsal for your wedding ceremony and a formal dinner to follow may be the norm in western wedding culture, but it is absolutely not obligatory. If your relatives, friends or vendors are shouting that “you must” and frightening you that “something might go wrong” silence that noise.

Prior to our flawless beach wedding ceremony, Jack and I skipped any wedding rehearsal. Guess what: the whole shebang went off without a hitch! Surprise, surprise, people generally know how to do things like walk down an aisle, sit in chairs, stand next to their besties at an alter. If you don’t want a rehearsal, you don’t need a rehearsal.

Photo by Alicia Rinka

Now for the dinner. Again, if a rehearsal dinner just doesn’t fit into your wedding vision, feel free to skip it! Weddings can be expensive enough as it is, and with the pressure to put on yet another fancy dinner on top of what you have planned, it can be costly and added stress.

Budget & planning aside, maybe you don’t like the formality of the whole thing. Maybe you want an alternative? Our friends at Be Inspired PR have come up with numerous alternative ideas for events & activities in lieu of a rehearsal dinner. When you finally choose your own adventure, here’s how to tell any unsupportive family about your fabulous plans.

Photo by Amante Ibiza

Fun beach day filled with small bites and signature drinks.

“Let’s be a little non-traditional… It’s ok, right? Lately we have been straying away from traditional sit-down dinners and getting a little more creative and having fun!

Our clients are going the route of creating an experience for their guests. Instead of a formal sit-down, we have suggested a fun beach day filled with small bites and signature drinks. We have also suggested a fun welcome cocktail reception, with interactive stations and entertainment. I think it’s ok, to step away from tradition. This is your big day and a great way to personalize it to who you are as a couple! ”- Weddings by Susan Dunne

Casual welcome party.

“Host a casual welcome party where guests can mingle and get to know each other. Pour a glass of wine, grab a beer, and eat delicious oven-fired pizzas, grilled seasonal vegetables, and fresh salads. ”- Jessica Carrillo, Owner of Art & Soul Events®

A floral arranging class.

“A really fun idea is to host a flower arranging party the day before your wedding! Here at the Barn of Chapel Hill at Wild Flora Farm, we provide all the flowers, vases, snacks, and drinks. We pop on some music, and for the next 2-3 hours, our floral design team helps the bride and her family and friends put together their wedding flowers! Afterward, we store everything on-site and place all the arrangements on the tables the next day for the wedding. It’s such a fantastic and creative way to spend quality time with friends and family! ” – Kara Brewer, Owner, Barn of Chapel Hill at Wild Flora Farm

Wine and beer potluck.

“Host a welcome party featuring a wine and / or beer potluck. Create opportunities for guest connection by prompting your guests to bring a bottled 6-pack of their favorite wine or beer to taste with other guests! ” – Jessica Carrillo, Owner of Art & Soul Events®

Photo by Eric Doolin Photography via Bridal Musings

A relaxing day with your bridesmaids or groomsmen.

“As wedding planners, we always recommend practicing the ceremony, but what you choose to do before or after the rehearsal to celebrate is up to you! Some of our clients like to do spa days with their bridesmaids while the guys opt for a day filled with golf. ” – Valarie Falvey, Kirkbrides

Sporting events.

“Why not buy tickets to the local major sports team home game that weekend so your group can skip the formal restaurant and get together at the ballpark instead?” – Valarie Falvey, Kirkbrides

Pedal party boats or bikes.

“Other creative out-of-the-box ideas include one of the pedal-party boats if you live in a city on the lake or ocean, or even the pedal party bikes that are rolling pubs.

Or, keep it a rehearsal dinner but make it casual and have it at a family home and hire food trucks to come by – delicious! Lastly, another fun idea is to pick a fun theme for your rehearsal dinner and go with it! We’ve planned luaus, backyard BBQs, bowling parties, wine tastings, roaring 20’s parties and more for these fun events. ” – Valarie Falvey, Kirkbrides

Photo by Portugal Wedding Photographer via Bridal Musings

A small pool party or an informal get-together at a local bar.

“An alternative to a welcome party or formal rehearsal dinner is having a more low-key and informal gathering, especially if guests are coming from out of town. A lot of my clients just want to spend the day hanging out with guests and family and friends before the wedding day.

Often times it looks like a low-key pool party or an informal hang at the local brewery or hotel bar. That way it’s less pressure on guests to show up but also gives everyone an opportunity to hang out together and spend quality time with the couple prior to the big day. ” – Kari Dirksen, CEO + Lead Planner, Feathered Arrow Events

Hotel Aire de Bardenas

A spa day to relax and be pampered.

“I’m a huge fan of being pampered and working on that soon-to-be-newlywed glow, so my alternative to a rehearsal dinner would be a day at the spa. Gather your nearest and dearest and schedule relaxing massages and / or oil treatments for them. You can do this before the rehearsal so everyone’s nice and loose, or after to prep them for a soothing night’s sleep.

While I can understand not wanting to have a formal meal together, snacks or hot appetizers should be available, as rehearsals are generally in the evening time and your attendants will be hungry. Most larger spas offer event spaces for gatherings, so make sure you loop your planner in to ensure that catering is allowed in. ” – Ashley Lachney, Owner of Alston Mayger Events

Photo by The Weisers

Love getting real with our Editor, Claire Eliza? Gain the confidence to throw the party you want by reading through her sage Real Talk wedding advice.

These tips were gathered by Be Inspired PR, a PR + Social Media Agency for wedding, wellness & lifestyle clients. With over 10+ years of experience, we’re here to take our clients to the next level! Find oodles of stylish wedding inspiration on their Instagram & Pinterest.



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