Skip to Content

Do Guests Pay for Themselves at a Rehearsal Dinner?

*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclaimer for additional details..

If you are attending a rehearsal dinner for the first time, you may not know how things work as a guest. This might leave you asking questions like, do guests pay for themselves at a rehearsal dinner?

If this is you, we discuss what you should know about rehearsal dinners below.

Do guests pay for themselves at a rehearsal dinner?

Guests do not usually pay for themselves at a rehearsal dinner. Generally, the hosts of the event pay for everyone in attendance. However, in some cases, guests will pay for their meals and drinks.

Do the bride and groom have to pay for the rehearsal dinner? Who traditionally pays for the rehearsal dinner?

In this article, we provide answers to your pressing rehearsal dinner questions and much more.

beautifully laid tables with wine glasses in a restaurant

Do Guests Pay for Themselves at a Rehearsal Dinner?

As we mentioned, guests do not pay for themselves at a rehearsal dinner.

Whoever hosts the rehearsal dinner is responsible for planning and paying for the event.

While it may sound tacky, some hosts ask their guests to pay for their meals and drinks at a rehearsal dinner. However, this is a way for the host to lessen the financial burden of hosting the event. 

Do the Bride and Groom Have to Pay for the Rehearsal Dinner?

Hosting the rehearsal dinner is not the responsibility of the bride and groom. However, they can decide to host the event themselves if their wedding budget can cover the cost of the event.

Knowing your budget will help determine the best person to host the rehearsal dinner.

Who Traditionally Pays for the Rehearsal Dinner?

According to traditional rehearsal dinner etiquette, the groom’s parents are responsible for paying for and organizing the rehearsal dinner.

However, more couples are choosing to pay for and plan their rehearsal dinner.

Alternatively, both families can also choose to split the bill for the event. Even other relatives and close friends of the couple can pay for the rehearsal dinner.

What Is the Etiquette for a Rehearsal Dinner?

The rehearsal dinner is a pre-wedding celebration that comes with its own set of rules.

Listed below is rehearsal dinner etiquette you should know:

friends sitting in restaurant for dinner and making a toast with white wine

The Rehearsal

Before moving on to the rehearsal dinner, you need to have the wedding rehearsal.

Everyone involved in the wedding ceremony should attend the wedding rehearsal.

Practice every aspect of the ceremony and ensure everyone knows what role they are to play. It is also a good idea to bring copies of the wedding program to the rehearsal. 

The Location

When selecting a venue for your rehearsal dinner, ensure you pick one close to where your guests are staying. It would also be helpful to your guests if you chose a venue close to the wedding venue.

Choosing a nearby venue prevents your guests from traveling long distances, which may not be too convenient for them.

If possible, you can provide directions and transportation to the rehearsal venue.

The Timing

The wedding rehearsal usually takes place the evening before the wedding ceremony. While it is called a rehearsal dinner, you can decide to make it a lunch or a brunch.

But if you choose to have a dinner, ensure you finish early enough so everyone can get enough rest that night for the ceremony the following day.

For convenience, you can hold the dinner a day or two before the ceremony if all the participants are available. Avoid having it too early since last-minute changes can occur.

Most importantly, ensure you keep your guests in mind when scheduling your rehearsal dinner.

The Guest List

The guest list of a rehearsal dinner usually includes those participating in the wedding rehearsal.

So the guest list will have the officiant, the wedding party, the bride and groom, and their parents.

However, you can decide to create a longer guest list.

You can invite other close family members and friends who, in one way or another, helped with the wedding preparations. Some couples also invite out-of-town wedding guests to their rehearsal dinner.

Remember to only include people in your rehearsal dinner guest list if you invited them to your wedding.

Do not use the dinner as an opportunity to invite people you did not include in your wedding guest list.

Womans hand signing a guest book with a pen

The Invitations

The invites for the rehearsal dinner should go out almost immediately after sending the wedding invitations.

If you are having a small rehearsal dinner, you do not need formal invitations. You can invite people with a phone call or send e-invites.

However, if you want a more formal dinner, you can send formal invitations that reflect the dinner theme. How you handle the invitations for your rehearsal dinner depends on your budget and who you invite.

The Seating Arrangement

If you decide to have a formal rehearsal dinner, it is good to have a seating chart.

The rehearsal dinner is probably the first time members of both families will meet each other. The seating chart will make it easy for these people to get acquainted with one other.

The seating arrangement is also helpful for any out-of-town guests.

Remember to give the hosts VIP seats next to you and your fiancée.


How formal or informal the rehearsal dinner will be is entirely up to the hosts. You can also determine the degree of formality by the number of guests.

Remember that the formality of your rehearsal dinner must not surpass that of your wedding.

Rehearsal Dinner Theme and Décor

wooden table with wedding decor

The theme and décor for a rehearsal dinner depend on the couple’s vision for the event.

Some couples may opt for a theme that matches their wedding, while others choose to incorporate a more casual theme.


The menu for the rehearsal dinner is not usually elaborate. Many couples choose to serve casual meals like sandwiches or pizza.

However, if you are having a more formal rehearsal dinner, it is best to have it catered. But since it is a rehearsal, you do not need to include a tiered cake on the menu.

For many, toasts are an important part of the rehearsal dinner. If you are serving alcohol at your rehearsal dinner, ensure you do so in moderation.

You could also serve nonalcoholic juices instead of wine or champagne for the toasts to avoid issues at the ceremony.

You would not want any member of the wedding party feeling the effects of the alcohol at the ceremony the next day.


It is not customary for couples to get gifts at a rehearsal dinner. However, some couples use the opportunity to give gifts to members of their wedding party.

You can also present gifts to your parents to thank them for their support and guidance.

The Toasts

As we mentioned, the toasts are a significant aspect of the rehearsal dinner. However, they are more spontaneous than toasts at the wedding reception.

At the rehearsal dinner, guests can share their fondest memories of the couple and wish them a happy marriage.

Whoever hosts the rehearsal dinner has the honor of giving a welcoming toast to the couple and the guests. Other family members can go next, followed by the wedding party and any other guest close to the couple who wishes to speak.

Then the couple can thank everyone for participating in their wedding when making their toast.

All toasts should be kept short yet thoughtful.

Do Not Forget the Last-Minute Reminders

Before the end of the rehearsal dinner, use the opportunity to relay important announcements about the big day.

Ensure members of the wedding party know when to arrive at the venue.

If you are providing transportation for your guests, use this opportunity to remind them about the locations and pick-up times. You can also inform them about any activities you have for them on the wedding day.

Final Take

Guests do not pay for themselves at a rehearsal dinner. The host of the event is responsible for everyone in attendance. Traditionally, the groom’s parents have the honor of hosting the event.

However, times are changing, and couples are beginning to host themselves with assistance from their parents.