Planning your Rehearsal Dinner


Planning a rehearsal dinner can be plenty of fun if you want it to be. Over the years, traditions have expanded, and nowadays you have a lot more leeway to shape this event towards your own personal style. Of course, it’s still perfectly acceptable to use the old script: a dinner hosted by the parents of the groom, everyone in formal attire, and, perhaps, structured speeches. However, if you do want to spice things up and have a little more fun with it, nothing is stopping you!

One of the most vital components of any rehearsal dinner is the food; not surprising, since the event is, after all, a meal. When it comes to choosing the catering option that best fits what you envision for your rehearsal dinner, you’ll want to keep a few simple guidelines in mind. Below, are some of the more popular styles of food presentation for rehearsal dinners, as well as some tips to consider when planning your rehearsal dinner.

Presentation Suggestions


Plated: Plated meals provide a formal ambiance and lend to your guests socializing in clusters, each talking to those seated nearby. This can be a great choice if you want the dinner to be a seated and more formal affair, if you are dealing with a tightly structured timeline, or if space is an issue.


Family style: This style is less formal than plated but still provides a seated and traditional meal. Family style meals encourage your guests to talk with each other and interact from all across the table in a relaxed manner. This can be an excellent choice for when you want your guests to mingle but still want that home-like comfort of eating at a table.


Buffet: This is one of the more relaxed and low-stress approaches to your rehearsal dinner meal. Buffet style meals encourage movement throughout the event and, because the food serves as a focal point for this movement, the buffet becomes a center of social bonding for your guests.


Stations: Stations are similar to buffets but subtly spread out across the room instead of grouped into a single area. This method encourages the most movement among your guests and can make the meal a fun and socially involved event; guests tend to gravitate towards the table with their favorite foods, and this quickly sparks conversations between them.


Hors D'oeuvres: These remarkable foods are highly adaptive to any setting. They can be served on trays by waitstaff or placed in strategic areas for your guests’ convenience. Because of the versatility of hors d'oeuvres, they can be arranged to fit with nearly any other style of meal.

Keeping in Mind

  1. Decide between formal, fun, or some combination thereof. One of the first decisions to be made is what kind of ambiance you want for your rehearsal dinner. Do you want it to feel frivolous and fun? Serious and formal? Will people dress casually, or are they going to be coming in formal attire? Knowing the answer to these questions will help you determine what kind of catered dinner to choose and how to display it best. Different atmospheres call for different dinner etiquette, and it all flows better when everything matches.

  2. Choose your food presentation so that it will tie your guests and your venue together. A formal setting with formal attire calls for an equally formal presentation of food—making plated styling or hors d'oeuvres a promising selection. In the opposite direction, if your rehearsal is more relaxed and casual, then you might consider stations, buffet, or family style presentations for your rehearsal dinner.

  3. Pick a presentation style that accommodates your space without crowding it. Even if you’re going for a relaxed evening and are letting your guests dress casually, you may still want a plated or family style option depending on the room available. Buffets and stations are fantastic choices, but they take up quite a bit more space than other options.

  4. Talk to your guests ahead of time and ask about any dietary restrictions before you choose your dishes. Planning ahead for this can save you much hassle later on and ensure a better experience for you and your guests.

Planning a wedding can be overwhelming, don’t let your rehearsal dinner add to it. Let us work with you to create the perfect meal for your evening.