A wedding is hands down one of the most important and beautiful events in life. In fact, it is so important that the celebration begins the day before! A rehearsal dinner is typically held to welcome and honor your guests, as well as to thank everyone who participated in the preparations leading up to this big day. Besides our hand-picked selection of Washington’s best rehearsal dinner venues, we’ve also prepared some tips and advice for you to get inspired!
Rehearsal dinner guide: do’s and don’ts
Are you wondering about the rehearsal dinner etiquette? Nowadays, there is way more room for flexibility and conventions are not strictly adhered to.
- Do decide who will host and pay for the rehearsal dinner. This is one of the most frequently asked questions about rehearsal dinners. As tradition would have it, the groom’s family is typically responsible for hosting and sponsoring the event. But times have changed and it is definitely not a requirement anymore. So, to avoid unnecessary drama and stress, have an honest conversation about this and make a decision that sits well with everyone involved.
- Don’t stress about the invitations. Picking wedding invitations is usually a big deal. The paper needs to be the right quality, the design has to be perfect, and then the content of the invitation can be an even bigger puzzle. You don’t have to go through all of this again with rehearsal dinner invitations. An e-vite will do just fine and so will a simple phone call, although it may depend on how formal you want your event to be. Speaking of which…
- Do make it as formal or informal as you wish. Do you want a formal dinner party? Go for it! Prefer a laid-back BBQ or any other type of celebration? Nobody’s stopping you! While some couples like to go big and make their rehearsal dinner into a lavish celebration, remember that this is all about you and your needs. Plus, planning a wedding is already a huge project – there’s no need to put an unnecessary load on your shoulders.
- Don’t feel obliged to invite all of your wedding guests. So, who do you invite to a rehearsal dinner? Traditionally, the guest list is limited to the wedding party and their plus ones, and people who actively participate in the ceremony, such as immediate family members, readers and ushers. The list can also include out-of-town guests. But, as with anything, remember that this is your party and you’re free to invite whomever you want.
- Do pick a theme. Themed parties are always a good idea, so why not pick something fun to kick off the wedding weekend on the right note? Don’t hesitate to weave in a few personal touches! It’s all about you and your partner, so choose something that reflects your personality and interests.
- Don’t host the rehearsal dinner too far from your wedding location. This is simply for the purpose of convenience: your guests shouldn’t be expected to travel too far for the rehearsal dinner. When choosing the rehearsal dinner venue, make sure that it’s within a reasonable distance from the hotel your guests are staying at. It would also make sense to pick a location that’s close to your actual wedding venue (since you’re probably hosting the dinner after the ceremony rehearsal).
- Do pick a unique venue for the rehearsal dinner. Though it’s “just a pre-party,” it’s still a special occasion that deserves an equally special venue! Wow your guests by booking a place with a unique character. Okay, but how to find that top-notch space? Keep reading!
How to pick the perfect rehearsal dinner venue
Here’s a little checklist of things to consider when looking for a rehearsal dinner venue in Washington, D.C.
- Settle your budget. First things first, let’s talk about money. Regardless of who’s taken up the responsibility of hosting and paying for the rehearsal dinner, one of the most important steps is to decide on the budget. If the couple is taking care of the dinner themselves, then it’ll probably depend on their overall budget for the entire wedding. When you’re clear on the numbers, use Tagvenue’s filters to browse venues that fall within your price range.
- Pick a date and time. When should you host the rehearsal dinner? The event typically takes place on the day before the wedding, right after the ceremony rehearsal. One important thing to keep in mind: don’t host the dinner too late in the evening. You and your guests need time to rest before the big day! Book the venue as soon as you know the date – the sooner the better! Don’t put this off until the last minute if you care about securing a unique space for the special occasion.
- Finalize the guest list. We’ve already talked about who gets invited to a rehearsal dinner. So, once you’ve made your decisions, put everyone on the guest list, let them know they’re invited and estimate how many of them are going to show up. You can then use this information to filter venues by capacity.
- Find a convenient location. The good news is, finding a unique venue shouldn’t be a problem. There are fantastic restaurants experienced in catering to large-scale events all over Washington! But you should focus on the location, notably its distance from the wedding venue/your guests’ hotel. Find a place that’s easy to get to, either via car or by public transport. Prioritize convenience! Nobody wants to waste time being stuck in traffic.
- Choose the menu. Finally, the core element of the dinner: the food! Decide what type of cuisine you’d like to serve and whether you want a traditional sit-down meal or maybe you’d prefer an open buffet. And, of course, you’re going to need something to make a toast with, so think about the beverages too. Many venues will offer dedicated event packages, so be sure to enquire about those.
Rehearsal Dinner Venues in Washington, DC FAQ
How much does it cost to rent a rehearsal dinner venue in Washington, D.C.?
When renting a rehearsal dinner venue in Washington, D.C., you can expect to pay from around $30 to $100 per person. Whenever you see a per-person fee, it typically stands for an event package that includes the costs of space rental plus food and drinks. Of course, prices will vary depending on venue standards and the size of your event, among other things. (All data from Tagvenue.)
Where in Washington, D.C. can I find the best rehearsal dinner venues?
Washington, D.C. is known for its incredible dining scene and you can find amazing restaurants pretty much all over the city. Many of them are experienced in catering to large events, making them a perfect choice for a rehearsal dinner. Downtown is dotted with distinguished restaurants all over. There’s a great choice of unique event spaces in the Southwest/Waterfront. Areas such as Capitol Riverfront, Shaw or Dupont Circle are also worth checking out.
What are some of the best rehearsal dinner venues in Washington, D.C.?
- Lupo Verde Osteria. Step into a culinary paradise, where rustic Italian fare and artisanal delights come together in perfect harmony. This venue boasts an authentic Italian experience, featuring a mouth-watering selection of small plates, house-made charcuteries, bread, cheeses, and antipasti that will tantalize your taste buds. And if you're looking for something more substantial, the dinner menu offers six house-made pastas and six entrée selections including whole roasted fish and a premiere selection of meats, sure to satisfy even the most discerning palate.
- La Bise. This modern and vibrant venue, housed at the corner of Lafayette Square and just a stone's throw from the White House lawn, exudes sophistication and elegance. With its bright and colorful interior, complete with blue walls, gold-patterned banquettes, and vibrant artwork, it is sure to leave a lasting impression on you and your guests. The space hums with energy, as guests gather around linen-robed tables, yet there is not a hint of pretense. The menu is a culinary journey, loosely French but with a number of detours, from steak tartare and Rohan duck breast to black truffle risotto and Maine lobster with pineapple. It is the perfect destination for a rehearsal dinner like no other, where delicious food, sophisticated ambiance, and proximity to the White House come together to create an unforgettable experience.
- Air Restaurant. With a modern twist on traditional American cuisine, this culinary oasis caters to any appetite, leaving nothing to be desired. And if you're looking to indulge in a hookah/shisha and enjoy a refreshing drink, you'll be delighted by the extensive list of drinks and cocktails. With a comfortable and casual atmosphere, delicious food, and a full bar, this venue is the epitome of casual elegance, making it the perfect spot for rehearsal dinner. Whether you're in the mood for a hearty meal or something light, the menu is sure to please.
What happens at a rehearsal dinner?
The main part of a rehearsal dinner is – surprise, surprise – the dinner itself. Everyone gathers around a communal table to enjoy some delicious food in good company. Then, there’s some time for toasts (or roasts) and speeches. The host usually welcomes the guests. Some of them may want to make a toast of their own and it is customary for the couple to say a few words as well. If you’re planning to distribute gifts to your wedding party and relatives, a rehearsal dinner is also a great occasion to do so.