How to Find (& Book) a Rehearsal Dinner Venue Near You

No stress, no mess—just a memorable way to kick off your wedding weekend with your nearest and dearest.
lindsay tigar the knot
Lindsay Tigar
lindsay tigar the knot
Lindsay Tigar
Wedding Planning Contributor
  • Lindsay contributes articles to The Knot Worldwide, with a specialty in honeymoon travel and creating wedding planning.
  • Lindsay owns a content agency, Tigar Types, to help businesses of all sizes grow their digital footprints.
  • Lindsay freelances for a plethora of publications, covering many topics, ranging from wedding advice and planning to travel, health and more.
Updated Jun 26, 2023

While your wedding is technically one day—for most modern couples, the celebration lasts for a whole weekend. In addition to the ceremony, reception and farewell brunch, it's traditional to host a rehearsal dinner to kick off the fun. Since it's another item to add to your planning list, you may wonder how to find—and book—a rehearsal dinner venue near you. Here is an action-packed guide to finding the ideal space (and menu) and ensuring seamless event experience.

In this article:

Is the Rehearsal Dinner at the Wedding Venue?

According to wedding expert Sarah Chianese, the owner and executive chef at Mangia and Enjoy, a rehearsal dinner is not necessarily always at the wedding venue. Instead, it's usually hosted at a nearby restaurant or a place that holds significance to the couple. In some unique cases, a venue might offer a weekend package, offering a discount if you host the rehearsal dinner on the same property, which of course, may be helpful to your budget, Chianese says.

If the venue space doesn't have a separate area or you want your rehearsal dinner to be unique, that's okay too. In fact, some couples are most often looking for something totally unique from the wedding night in terms of theme and style, according to Cristina Renfroe, the director of catering and conference services for the Four Seasons Hotel and Residences Fort Lauderdale. For example, if a couple is planning a black-tie event for the wedding night, the welcome dinner may have a more relaxed, laid-back vibe and menu style.

At Renfroe's property, a couple may have the rehearsal dinner at the terrace garden overlooking the ocean for a casual yet upscale beachy feel. "Couples are looking to infuse local flair, personality, or just any iconic elements that an area may be known for," she shares. "Here in Fort Lauderdale, we desire sophisticated coastal elements with a contemporary touch, from seafood fare to signature coconut drinks and cocktails."

When to Book a Rehearsal Dinner Venue

As with everything in wedding planning, the sooner, the better when booking your rehearsal dinner venue. Once you've secured your wedding venue, figure out who's hosting the rehearsal dinner (traditionally it's the groom's parents, but it can be anyone—or you can host the event yourselves), and begin researching where you'd like to host the event.

As an example, Melissa Delany, the director of sales and marketing at Old Edwards Hospitality Group, says their venue is usually booked out for 12 to 16 months on Saturday in the high season. Sometimes, mid-week or Friday/Sunday dates are available on shorter notice. "We recommend that once they book their wedding, the couple move into high gear to secure accommodations and arrange their rehearsal dinners and any other event details they may desire," she adds.

Regardless of the zip code you're planning with, to avoid any last-minute stress or disappointment, research and contact potential rehearsal dinner venues as soon as possible, advises Stephen Kilroy, the senior vice president of Table & Banter at The Park. "This will give you ample time to compare options, negotiate contracts and make a reservation that suits your needs."

How to Choose a Rehearsal Dinner Venue

A restaurant? A bar? Perhaps a private home? There are so many options when choosing a rehearsal dinner venue. Here, wedding professionals help you narrow the search so you can find what best suits your goals, theme and style.

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One of the first things to consider when selecting a rehearsal dinner venue is the location, according to Suzanne Halaska, a certified wedding planner and the founder of Couture Events. Since it's unlikely everyone in your wedding party or within your family is local, the restaurant or venue must be close to the hotels where most guests are staying so they don't have to drive or walk far to get there.

"Many guests will likely have to travel the morning of the rehearsal dinner, and it's key to make things convenient for them," she says. If the location is far from where your guests are saying, providing transportation to the rehearsal dinner is typically recommended.


While, sure, you and your soon-to-be-spouse are the stars of the weekend—food is an integral part of the rehearsal dinner. (After all, it's right there in the name!). When selecting a venue, make sure you like and enjoy the food you'll serve to your loved ones. "Like the wedding venue, some rehearsal dinner venues offer food tastings, so you can select menu items and make sure the food is to your liking," says Marissa MacLeod, marketing director at The Treasury on the Plaza.

Also, ask the rehearsal dinner venue about any food and beverage minimums, dietary restrictions and other details specific to your guest list and budget.

Privacy and Dedicated Service Staff

Another consideration for your rehearsal dinner venue is where the event will be held within the space—and if you will have dedicated staff to care for your party. As Chianese says, privacy will allow guests to enjoy an intimate setting and quality service instead of being amongst the bustle of a potentially busy and loud atmosphere if in a shared space with those not on your wedding guest list.

"Having a dedicated service staff will ensure better food service and not compete with the bar's masses," she says. "This is the final meal shared amongst those who matter most to you, and some speeches may be delivered by those who aren't making any during the wedding, so having a private setting means no one will be competing with the noise from other diners and servers."

Along the same lines, ask the venue about the event space's style, lighting, decor, and overall ambiance. And if you can, visit the space before you book when you'd like to host your rehearsal dinner. "Whether you prefer a formal setting, a casual atmosphere or a specific theme, choose a venue that aligns with your vision to enhance the overall experience," Kilroy adds.

Preferred Vendors

Kilroy notes venues often have preferred vendors that they work with regularly. These vendors are familiar with the venue and its requirements, which can help streamline the planning process and make for a smooth event.

"Partner vendors can include caterers, photographers, florists, decorators, DJs or bands, wedding planners and other service providers," he says. "It's important to check in with the venue to see if there is flexibility in selecting vendors, as you may have a specific site in mind that would fare better using external vendor options."


Though it's not the most exciting part of hosting a rehearsal dinner (or any part of the wedding celebration), keeping the budget in mind when selecting a venue is extremely important. "A couple should avoid considering restaurants or locations that are outside of their target budget, or they may risk falling in love with an option that is too pricey," Halaska says.

How to Find a Rehearsal Dinner Venue

The Knot is an essential resource when you're looking for a rehearsal dinner venue. With thousands of restaurants, bars and other venue types to select from, you can narrow down by zip code, guest list, budget and many other factors. Best of all: you can submit an inquiry from our website—and venues will reach out to you ASAP for a tour, pricing and other need-to-know info.

How to Coordinate With Your Rehearsal Dinner Venue

Once you've signed on the dotted line—it's time to start putting together the details for your rehearsal dinner. Here, wedding experts shed insight on the best ways to work with a venue to avoid hiccups and provide a memorable experience.

Enlist your wedding planner.

When you're finalizing your contract with a wedding planner, consider asking if they will include their services for the rehearsal dinner, suggests Laura Maddox, a partner at Magnolia Celebrates. "This helps to make sure that your entire weekend is cohesive from a service level as well as the decor and experiences," she says. "This also helps to ensure you can ensure some surprises for the couple throughout the weekend that do not cross over with anything already planned."

Create an event timeline.

Much like your wedding, your rehearsal dinner will have an event timeline. From the beginning planning stages, Kilroy recommends finalizing specific details of your rehearsal dinner, including the start and end times, the flow of the event and any specific activities or requests you have.

"Once the details are set in stone, a run-of-show timeline featuring all contact information should be shared with the venue event coordinator, other vendors (florists, photographer, caterer, etc.), party planner, parents and anyone else who may be of help," he adds.

Select the menu, drinks and design.

Some restaurants or bars will offer the option to meet with the manager and/or executive chef to determine what the menu will be within the budget you plan for, Chianese says. Take them up on the experience so you can craft the perfect menu, create a signature cocktail, discuss timing and decor and ensure you contract for enough time to allow for a leisurely meal that may be interrupted by some heartfelt speeches, she adds.

"If the venue has a design team, ask to see their portfolio of set-ups, along with respective costs, and see if one of their designs suits your vision," Chianese says. "The wedding day may have one aesthetic, and the rehearsal dinner presents an alternative way to express yourself through theme, menu, and cocktails, so enjoy making the best choices to provide you and your guests with forever memories."

Communicate regularly.

This might go without saying, but Kilroy reminds couples that regular communication with the venue throughout the planning process is key. "Keep the venue staff updated with any guest count adjustments, additional requests or other changes in a timely manner," he says. "Wedding planning can be stressful, but the more communicative you are, the smoother the experience will be."

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