Creating the perfect setting for your rehearsal dinner can be a simple and fun affair. Keeping it stress free and manageable will help you have a wonderful and fun evening without adding too much extra stress before your big day.
The first and most important step to consider is location. If you can practice at your actual site then you want to consider a location that will be closest to where you will be rehearsing. This can be a restaurant, an outdoor venue, or if you are at a destination wedding, even the hotel.
Next, you want to keep in mind the theme of the rehearsal dinner. You want this to be fun and simple and very different from your wedding. If you are having a very formal wedding, consider maybe an elegant outdoor picnic or fun fiesta theme. If you are having a location wedding, try changing up the venue or the food. The bottom line is that guests and the wedding party want to have a great time but it should feel like a different occasion from your actual wedding day.
Once you have decided on a location and a theme you need to create the guest list. Your guest list can be as large or as intimate as you desire. Some basic etiquette is anyone involved in the actual ceremony and their guest should be invited to the rehearsal dinner. After you have taken care of the basics, who you invite is up to you. You may want to consider out of town guests coming in early or people who have contributed to your special day.
Finally, you want to nail down the details. Invitations should be sent out in plenty of time so that people can plan to attend and make sure they know they are invited. There is no need to get extravagant with the invitations, but it is essential for people to have the date, time and location to attend. The location and theme should dictate the type of cuisine but if it does not mean you need to plan to have food. Decorations, favors, and alcohol are nice additions but not required or necessary. Your rehearsal dinner should set the tone for the wedding but not break the bank or outshine the big event.