By Katie Strasberg
March 01, 2019
Paul Bradbury / Getty Images

You've finally wheeled and dealed your way to a final count on the wedding guest list, but you're not off the hook just yet. It's time to tackle the rehearsal dinner. Though you may have a vision for how you hope the evening will pan out, it's important to figure out who will join you for pre-wedding toasts before you start shopping for venues.

A rehearsal dinner can be as intimate or as grand as the host, typically the groom's parents, would like. If you're looking to throw a smaller affair, start by making a list of the individuals who will attend the ceremony rehearsal. This group typically consists of your parents, siblings, wedding party, ushers, and officiant. Work out from there, starting with close relatives, and you may already hit your ideal, intimate number. If you want to play the ultimate wedding weekend hostess, though, here are all of the wedding guest groups that should be on your radar for a rehearsal dinner invitation.


We're talking about immediate and close, extended family. The rehearsal dinner is one of the best times for close family to mix and mingle before two families become one. If you're throwing a small event, you're not technically obligated to invite aunts or uncles who aren't super close to the couple. But, we can't think of a better way for the groom's Aunt Mae and the bride's cousin Bonnie to bond than over pre-wedding drinks. How else would embarrassing stories from your diaper days make it to the ears of your new family members?

Wedding Party

If you're following proper rehearsal dinner etiquette, this one is a must. Your wedding party and each of their dates should land on your list. Any flower girls or ring bearers playing a role in your Big Day (as well as their parents) should be considered, too. Whether or not they're invited may depend on your relationship and their age.

Ushers or Readers

Those playing a special role in your Big Day and are also attending the ceremony rehearsal right before dinner should be offered an invitation. If you've honored them with a part in the ceremony, they're likely close enough friends or family to be included in the pre-wedding celebration.


If your officiant is leading the ceremony run through right before the rehearsal dinner, it's good manners to invite him or her to the rehearsal dinner as well.

Out-of-Town Guests

Here's where the rehearsal dinner guest list can get away from you. To avoid leaving guests who traveled for your nuptials stranded in a hotel room, many families choose to invite all out-of-town guests. This may just be a handful of folks or it may be the majority of your guest list, depending on where you're holding your wedding.

If the numbers are getting out of hand, you can choose to invite some, but not all out-of-town guests to the rehearsal dinner. You'll need to be sure to do so in a clear cut manner, though – for example, family from out of state, but not friends. Or, another way to cut back on numbers and potential costs is to host a rolling reception after the rehearsal dinner for welcome drinks. This will ensure you offer out of town guests something to do while not overcrowding the intimate rehearsal dinner you've been dreaming of.

WATCH: Wedding Etiquette with Gayden & Charlotte

All in all, it's up to the host to decide how to piece together the perfect rehearsal dinner guest list. Whether intimate or nearly the size of the wedding itself, we're sure it will be a wonderful way to kickoff your wedding weekend.