There are many moving parts to pull together to have your dream wedding. In the months leading up to your big day, you’re in contact with your caterer, your venue and any other professionals who will help make your dreams come true. Your rehearsal dinner may be the last thing on your mind, but it’s important to plan for it sooner than later.

The people in your wedding need a rehearsal dinner to understand the ceremony. They don’t know when to walk down the aisle or what to expect. It’s good for everyone to practice and even better to celebrate with dinner after the rehearsal.

Here are six key factors in planning a successful rehearsal dinner. Once you remember to keep each one in mind, you’ll plan a great dinner that everyone will enjoy.

1. Narrow Down the Guest List

While you plan your wedding, you might get used to the idea of expanding the guest list every so often. It’s easy to forget a few people here and there that you might want at your ceremony, but remember that the rehearsal dinner is typically much smaller.

The bridal and groom’s parties should both attend, along with both sets of parents and any immediate family members you wish to have there. That means you can host a small dinner if you’re on a tight budget without offending any of your friends or other guests.

2. Send out Invitations

Closer to your wedding date, you’ll send invitations to your guests that tell them when and where your wedding will take place. You’ll need to mail special rehearsal invitations to your dinner guests — include the date, time and location of the dinner. It’s especially important to remember this step if the dinner will happen at a different place than your venue.

photo by Callie Manion

3. Host the Night Before

Depending on your ceremony, you might have a long rehearsal to get through. You’ve planned out every moment, but your rehearsal party will only know what to expect after they arrive. It’s easier for everyone to remember their role if you host the rehearsal the night before your wedding, which will also make the dinner more celebratory.

4. Prepare a Playlist

By the time you host your rehearsal dinner, you’ll know which song you’re walking down the aisle to and which one walks you out to your reception. What will you play after your rehearsal party sits down to eat? Before the day arrives, prepare a dinner playlist that’s romantic and easy to listen to. Throw in a few dance songs if you’re eating at your venue, and have room to bust out a move or two.

5. Cater the Meal

Brides often want their rehearsal dinner to happen at the venue so that they can eat right after walking through the ceremony with everyone. You can decorate the room for dinner and get creative as you like. Leave the cooking to someone else when you cater the rehearsal meal, and let the professionals handle your food for the night.

6. Enjoy the Party

The most important part of hosting a successful rehearsal dinner is to remember to enjoy the party. Your wedding is a celebration, even if planning sometimes feels like a job. Once the rehearsal starts, relax and have a great time with everyone. People make the best memories when they have fun, so remember to soak in every moment.

Make It Stress-Free

There’s no need for the rehearsal dinner to add stress to your life. Make it a stress-free event by planning ahead of time and doing whatever is easiest. Hire a caterer to take care of the food. Set up a playlist and invite only those closest to you. By taking such actions, you’ll pull together a dinner that sets the tone for celebrating the big day for you and your future spouse.

Kacey Bradley is the blogger behind The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. Along with writing for her blog, she has written for sites like U.S. News, SUCCESS, Ruffled, and more!

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