Wedding rehearsals are excellent opportunities to get rid of the jitters, work out the kinks, and gain confidence for a smooth ceremony. Plus, your bridal party and family will have the chance to break the ice before your big day. We’re sharing expert advice about planning a wedding rehearsal in the Smoky Mountains.

Planning a Smoky Mountain Wedding Rehearsal

What is a wedding rehearsal and the purpose behind it?

The Magnolia Wedding and Events Venue
Photo courtesy of The Magnolia Wedding and Events Venue

A wedding rehearsal is primarily about walking through the steps of the ceremony so that everyone can prepare for the following day. It is usually held at the wedding venue, like The Magnolia Wedding and Events Venue, so that everyone can become familiar with the site.

Also, it’s about bringing the two families together before the wedding happens. Unlike the semi-formal to formal atmosphere of a wedding, the rehearsal and the dinner that follows it are usually much more relaxed. It’s a great opportunity for relatives to meet and mingle, especially if it’s their first meeting.

How long has this tradition of rehearsing the wedding processional been around, and how has it changed in recent years?

Host your wedding rehearsal at the venue so guests can get familiar with the site.
Photo courtesy of Parkside Resort

Wedding rehearsals have been around since the late 19th century. Originally, it was the time when families would first meet because most marriages were arranged. However, the event has morphed into a family celebration and sometimes a pre-party before the wedding.

Afterward, the rehearsal dinner is an intimate setting for families to bond and celebrate the union before the actual wedding when even more guests are present. That said, your dinner can be as small or as large as you wish. Because every wedding is unique, you can scale your event as needed.

Where does a wedding rehearsal take place?

Large party in the private room at The Melting Pot Gatlinburg
Photo courtesy of The Melting Pot

Traditionally, the rehearsal takes place at the wedding venue. However, if your venue is unavailable at that time, a wedding rehearsal can take place anywhere. An example of this would be weddings inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You may not be able to access your venue, like in Cades Cove, on the evening before the wedding. Instead, meeting in a conference room at your hotel or resort or a private room at a restaurant works just the same.

In the same fashion, it may not be feasible for the entire wedding party to visit popular wedding venues like Anakeesta before the wedding. Often, these venues are busy with regular guests and may charge an entry admission. Instead of holding a wedding rehearsal there, try meeting across the street at Ole Red. That way, guests can see where Anakeesta is even if they’re not visiting the Gatlinburg attraction.

Our association’s members are among the best wedding venues in the Smoky Mountains; view these businesses here.

Where does a rehearsal take place?

Buddy's BBQ Catering in the Smokies
Photo courtesy of Buddy’s BBQ in Sevierville

The rehearsal dinner can be held anywhere you wish, although we recommend hosting it near the actual rehearsal. If you’ve planned a wedding at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort, then hosting a rehearsal dinner on the property makes sense because the resort offers numerous dining options and gathering spots. At a resort like this, it’s easy to plan for a rehearsal dinner, ceremony, and reception to be held in different spots throughout the property.

If you are having the rehearsal at a wedding chapel like Angel’s View Wedding Chapel, then hosting the dinner at Hard Rock Cafe in Pigeon Forge would be convenient for your guests. This restaurant serves great food and offers group menus. Also, it’s a fun spot to let loose and celebrate!

If you wish, you can host the meal at the event venue. During peak travel times, this can reduce stress and limit the time your guests spend in traffic. However, we think it’s a nice change of pace to hold it in a different place.

A rehearsal dinner is generally in a smaller space than the reception because there are fewer people in attendance. The Sevierville Civic Center offers various private rooms, and our local caterers like Bissel Catering can provide the meal. Likewise, a restaurant with a private dining room like The Melting Pot in Gatlinburg is the perfect spot to celebrate and unwind before the big day.

However, because a destination wedding often means that guests are traveling for the occasion, rehearsal dinners in the Smoky Mountains can include the couple, bridal party, immediate family, and all out-of-town guests. While not necessary, it’s a nice gesture to include everyone. For affordable ways to feed a large group of people, consider catering from Buddy’s Bar-B-Q and an informal meal at a local park or picnic area.

Your Wedding Rehearsal in the Smoky Mountains

Celebrate with an event at Hard Rock Cafe in Pigeon Forge, TN.
Photo courtesy of Hard Rock Cafe in Pigeon Forge

The most important aspect of the rehearsal evening is to help the couple relax before their big day. As you plan your wedding, it’s easy to focus on everyone and everything else. Ultimately, the day is about nuptials and celebrating your love. Plan a rehearsal and dinner that makes you most comfortable and sets the tone for your big day.

Learn more about planning a Smoky Mountain wedding here. On behalf of the entire Smoky Mountain Wedding Association, congratulations and we look forward to welcoming you and your family!

Authored in Appalachia || Amy Morton

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