How to Plan a Jewish Rehearsal Dinner

According to tradition, a Jewish wedding is not to be rehearsed. The time under the chuppah is considered sacred--therefore, couples should not stand under it until the ceremony. Jewish couples who wish to honor this religious tradition choose not to have a rehearsal or the dinner that follows it. In fact, the most conservative Jewish couples adhere to another tradition that prohibits the bride and groom from seeing each other at all for the week prior to the ceremony.

However, most modern Jewish weddings showcase a relaxed interpretation of these traditions. While the authenticity of the time under the chuppah is important to most couples, so is spending the eve of the wedding with friends and family. A great alternative to a rehearsal dinner is a pre-wedding party that offers a laid-back atmosphere for relaxing with guests.

Find a casual venue that will accommodate your immediate family and bridal party. Examples include a favorite restaurant, the home of the parents or the couple, a small hotel party room or even a section of a local park.

Choose the food that will be served at the party. Since rehearsal dinners are typically more casual affairs, the menu does not need to be gourmet--plan to serve food that has universal appeal, such as chicken or fish dishes or pasta. Consider working with a catering company that specializes in kosher fare.

Stock up on beverages, including both red and white wine. Be sure to offer soft-drinks for minors and designated drivers. To make the dinner more special, consider serving a signature drink like a special-recipe martini or flavored lemonade.

Accent the venue with simple but classy decorations such as small flower arrangements and groupings of candles. You want to save the impressive centerpieces for the actual wedding reception. Try to carry the theme of the wedding through the rehearsal dinner--for example, by incorporating one or more of the flower types you have chosen to use for the wedding.

Plan to give a toast to your parents or anyone else that has helped make the wedding special. Usually, the toast is offered after the main course of the meal.

Prepare gifts for the bridal party. A pre-wedding celebration is the perfect time to show appreciation to the bridal party and distribute their thank-you gifts.

Prepare instructions for the bridal party concerning the details of the ceremony and distribute them at the pre-wedding party. These details will help the bridal party feel better prepared for the big day despite not having a rehearsal.