By Lisa Trani with La Grotta Ristorante

The rehearsal dinner is the event held after the “practice session” for the wedding ceremony. It is a wonderful way to enjoy a special, yet low key gathering and is very often the first celebration of the new couple’s wedding weekend. With this in mind, you definitely want it to be a memorable event! There are many guidelines and helpful ideas available pertaining to the actual wedding and reception, but when it comes to the rehearsal dinner where do you begin? Here are some helpful suggestions to guide you through the process of pulling off an evening to remember!

Rehearsal Dinners Richmond wedding Lisa Trani La Grotta Ristorante plan
Emily Bartell Photography

1. Typically, the groom’s parents will be in charge of hosting the rehearsal dinner. Choosing the date for the dinner is relatively easy as the date for the wedding has already been decided upon. Usually, the dinner is the evening before the wedding, immediately following the rehearsal of the ceremony.

2. Next, the host must finalize the headcount. The event often times includes the wedding party, the families of the bride and groom, and out of town guests. Keep in mind that many times your extended family will also be invited, for example, grandparents. After the number of guests attending is confirmed, the planning and fun can begin!

3. The next important step is to find the perfect venue for the event. A restaurant with a private room typically makes for the best space for the rehearsal dinner. Planning ahead and securing the date on the venue’s calendar is crucial in order to reserve the space. Upon making your reservation, you will usually be asked to provide a deposit.

Rehearsal Dinners Richmond wedding Lisa Trani La Grotta Ristorante plan

Very often restaurant managers like to meet with the host or hostess of the dinner in person or on the phone to discuss all of the menu options, pricing, and space availability. Working with a restaurant that can accommodate guests with special dietary needs is also very important. Check with those attending and inquire about any food allergies, lifestyle options, etc.

Once a menu is chosen, the wine selection comes next. Many people decide to offer a cocktail hour as their guests arrive and get settled in. Also, it is traditional at rehearsal dinners for a toast to be given by the host. The toast can be done with champagne or prosecco before the dinner or dessert.

4. The rehearsal dinner can also give the groom’s family an opportunity to plan and get involved in some creative ways to highlight the soon-to-be-married couple. Many hosts decide to make picture boards, memory books or even slideshows and videos. Also, many times hosts enjoy making special centerpieces and/or small decorations for a personal touch.

This event is also the perfect opportunity for the bride and groom to give their special gifts to the bridal parties and/or parents. Giving the gifts the evening before takes one more item off the list for the actual wedding day.

Rehearsal Dinners Richmond wedding Lisa Trani La Grotta Ristorante plan

Working closely with a venue is the number one key to planning a successful and memorable dinner. The perfect restaurant will want to greatly ease the stress that may come along with planning a rehearsal dinner by helping you with every aspect for a seamless and beautiful evening.

Lisa Trani is the Public Relations Manager for La Grotta Ristorante, Richmond’s premier fine dining Italian restaurant, offering an authentic taste of Italy with homemade pastas, breads, and desserts. The finest quality meats, wild game, and seafood are prepared daily. To reserve space for your special occasion or to get more information visit or call (804) 644-2466.