Rehearsal dinners are a fun and intimate way to kick off the wedding experience. A great rehearsal dinner venue can make all the difference, so it’s important to take some time to find the best fit.

Here are a few considerations to keep in mind as you search for your rehearsal dinner venue.

Determine your guest list

The guest list for your rehearsal dinner will likely be far shorter than that of your wedding, so you’ll need to figure who exactly will be invited. As a general rule of thumb, rehearsal dinners are hosted for the immediate families, wedding party, and out-of-town guests.

At the end of the day, however, it’s your celebration so you can feel free to invite whomever you want. Tally up your headcount to see how many people would be there, then begin your search for a rehearsal dinner venue.

small rehearsal dinner

Define your style

Since the rehearsal dinner is an entirely separate event from your wedding, you can feel free to get creative and try something different with the theme. On the other hand, you can complement your wedding with a similar theme and start the weekend in style. Again, it’s totally up to you!

You will want to decide on the style of event you want to host. Would you prefer to customize every detail? Or, would you prefer to take it easy and opt for a restaurant that handles everything?

Since so much energy goes into planning the wedding day, most couples prefer the simple route but the choice is yours. A great planner can turn a basic rehearsal dinner venue into a one-of-a-kind space.

Consider food options

Since the rehearsal dinner is focused around the meal, you’ll want to determine what style of cuisine you want to dine on. Is there a special meal that you didn’t get to have for your wedding? Do you have a particular comfort food that would make your night?

Try to choose something that is different from what will be served at the wedding, so you can give your guests a broader culinary experience.

Once you have decided on a cuisine, you can determine whether to find a restaurant that will handle everything in-house or a caterer who will serve your food at a designated venue.

Understand your budget

Your rehearsal dinner won’t carry the same price tag as your wedding, of course, but it will still cost a bit to feed your guests. If you plan for added features like a bar package or enhanced design, that needs to be factored into the budget.

Since rehearsal dinners tend to be on the casual side, it’s a good place to minimize costs so that they can be allocated to the big day. It doesn’t need to look basic, though. An already-gorgeous restaurant or some DIY décor can make your event feel extra special.

If you’re uncertain about rehearsal dinner venues in your area, consult with your wedding planner for insight. He or she will be well versed on the local options and can provide helpful suggestions based on your needs.