The Rehearsal Dinner

HIMYM episode 9x12 (196)

The Rehearsal Dinner (15)
First aired:
December 2, 2013
Pamela Fryman
Chuck Tatham
Barney's Blog

Images (20)

Barney becomes fixated on having his rehearsal dinner at a laser tag arena, much to Robin’s dismay. Meanwhile, Ted doesn’t come through on a promise, which aggravates Lily.


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On Saturday at 8:00 PM, 22 hours before the wedding, Barney has been handcuffed to a pipe in a security office begging a guard to push a button on a novelty toy. Robin orders the guard not to, furious as the rehearsal dinner started ten minutes earlier and she is now in a laser tag security office waiting for the police to arrive. They then tell the story of how they ended up there:

A few months before, Barney requested the idea of a rehearsal dinner at a laser tag arena. The gang hates the idea and Robin reminds him that their marriage will be about compromise such as when she agreed to hold the wedding in New York rather than Canada like she wanted to when they first got engaged (which prompted more than a few Canada-based jokes from the others). Barney agrees they'll have a normal rehearsal dinner, but its obvious he isn't going to drop the idea. Ted, the self-declared 'Wedding Gift Master', then tells Robin and Barney that as a gift he's willing to take up piano lessons again and play at the dinner. Both Barney and Robin refuse until Ted offers to dress like Liberace while doing it.

A few days after Robin surprised Barney with his bachelor party, he tearfully announces that the wedding is off and asks her to move out of his apartment. Robin, convinced by Barney's lamenting performance, is shocked and ready to pack only to see her suitcase with puppies inside, prompting her to force Barney to stop pulling pranks. Later at the bar, the gang try to convince Barney that Robin has a point, only for Barney to adamantly insist that Robin is trying to pull off a surprise laser tag rehearsal dinner by claiming that the rehearsal dinner at the Farhampton Inn was a fake.

Meanwhile, Lily is distraught that she is not in the loop about the details of the rehearsal dinner because of her inability to keep secrets. She reminds Ted of having been able to keep his whole plan to move to Chicago and not being dressed like Liberace secret. Ted admits that the lessons didn't go well (as shown in flashback, he never got around to pressing a single key), as Barney returns telling them he has the plan worked out; Robin will send him to collect ice and the only store he can get it will be right next to a laser tag arena where the surprise will be sprung. Robin enters telling everyone that the ice machine has broken down and Barney plays the part of the person sent out to collect more ice. Robin however doesn't want him to leave and makes Barney promise not to. Barney promises, and immediately leaves anyway and heads straight to the laser tag arena (that, rather than being next to the ice store, was actually six miles in the opposite direction).

Still upset over everyone not confiding in her, Lily tells Ted and Robin about her plan to move to Italy being in shambles because Marshall took up a judgeship without asking her (they can't go back to the apartment because it is already sublet). Ted is angry with Marshall for his selfishness, but Lily knows that her husband would never intentionally hurt her. Suddenly Robin arrives back with the news that Barney went to the laser tag arena and was so angry when he found that there was indeed no surprise rehearsal dinner he threatened one of the staff and is now being held there awaiting arrest. As Robin leaves to pick up Barney, Ted comforts Lily by telling her he knows she can keep a secret and offers to tell her one. He whispers it in her ear, and allows her to announce to the guests that there's going to be a slight change of plan.

Back in the present, Barney is still convinced this is one massive surprise and wants to just head to the laser tag rehearsal dinner despite Robin insisting there isn't one. He agrees with her that marriage isn't just about playing pranks just as Robin notices that Barney has freed himself from the handcuffs before he hands her a pair of ice skates. Barney then admits that he may lie in the future "only if it means an amazing surprise"; then snow begins to fall in the office. Before Robin can ask Barney any more questions, he presses the button on the novelty toy, causing the office's walls to suddenly lift up, revealing that the "office" is in the middle of an ice rink surrounded by their family and friends (including Ted in his Liberace costume). Barney tells a surprised Robin that since they couldn't have the wedding in Canada, he decided to organize a Canadian-themed rehearsal dinner just for her and he gives her a signed picture of Wayne Gretzky as his own personal wedding gift to her. The security guard turns out to be a figure skater.

As Alan Thicke and James sing, Lily thanks Ted for letting her in late on the secret; Ted admits that the piano lessons were a cover for taking figure skating lessons, only to fall over almost immediately (Future Ted notes that it takes a lot longer than two months to learn how to figure skate). Robin tells Barney how much she loves him, and promises to get him back for this and Barney tells her to "bring it"; right before they kiss. While Ted limps back over to the center of the ice rink.

In the final scene, Barney admits that he loves Canada as he lists several amazing things the country has given the world including one-quarter of himself and best of all Robin. She thanks him and the two of them skate off happy together to have a good time at their rehearsal dinner as Ted goes by playing the piano as promised.


  • Lily gives Ted the stink-eye when he says that he's a wedding gift master. In The Poker Game, it is revealed that Marshall and Lily thought for years that Ted had never given them a wedding present.
  • Ted says he will take piano lessons again, alluding to his preexisting skill as shown in Drumroll, Please and Tailgate​​. The end of The Rehearsal Dinner re-affirms Ted's ability, as he plays proficiently without the new lessons.
  • Ted mentions that it is ridiculous to have a band at a wedding, this was a focal point in Band or DJ?.
  • Barney talks about his bachelor party, which took place in The Bro Mitzvah.
  • Lily's inability to keep a secret has been mentioned and shown several times throughout the series.
  • Barney mentions having a ring 'bear' at the wedding as opposed to a ring bearer, much to Robin's dismay. This was addressed in The Locket and Last Time in New York.
  • The fact that Barney likes the game of Laser Tag has been mentioned in several episodes throughout the series.
  • Marshall didn't arrive in time for the rehearsal dinner, thus breaking the promise he made in Last Time in New York.
  • Lily mentions that Ted could never beat Marshall in a fight. Marshall's fighting ability and Ted's lack of ability were previously established in The Fight​​.
  • The gang borrowing and losing Ted's things is first mentioned in The Over-Correction.
  • James' split personality performances were first mentioned in The Locket.
  • The Wayne Gretzky picture is a focal point of the episode Mom and Dad.
  • Lily says that she does know Italian even though she doesn't. The same thing happened with Marshall in Romeward Bound.
  • Lily mentioned the secret of Ted moving to Chicago from Something New​​ and the fact that Marshall told her he accepted the judge job from No Questions Asked.

Future References (Contains Spoilers)

  • Lily says that she can keep a secret. We will learn that she is hiding her pregnancy in Daisy​​.


  • Barney surprises Robin with puppies
  • Ted practices piano dressed as Liberace
  • Robin wonders why it's snowing
  • Barney unveils the real rehearsal dinner
  • Robin is surprised
  • Barney finally gives Robin the autographed picture of Wayne Gretzky
  • Ted falls while attempting to figure skate
For a listing of all images on the wiki tagged as being from this episode, see Category:The Rehearsal Dinner images.

Memorable Quotes

Barney: Fine fine, you're right, Robin. Marriage isn't about playing crazy pranks, it isn't about telling long, expertly crafted lies to cover those pranks...and hiring actors to play security guards and spending exorbitant amounts of money on things like giant fake laser tag signs. No, it's about honesty. Size 6 skates, right? And in that spirit..I gotta be honest. Every now and then I am gonna lie to you. I just am. If it's in the interest of an amazing surprise, that is. You're gonna get bamboozled, hoodwinked. Heck I'll just say're gonna get snowed.

Notes and Trivia

Goofs and Errors

  • Ted said he was taking figure skating lessons instead of piano lessons, but it is seen that he is actually wearing hockey skates instead of figure skates when he falls.
  • During the flashback to Ted's piano lessons, he says that the Etude is in E Sharp Major when it is actually in G Flat Major.
    • The time signature is also 2/4 rather than 4/4 as Ted says.
      • This is probably a joke about how poor his piano skills are
  • While Lily apparently fails to speak fluent and correct Italian in this episode, it was shown in her resume in The Possimpible that she was fluent in Italian and certified to teach English as a second language. (Oddly enough, it also says Lily has Java programming skills.)
    • Lily probably just padded her resume.
  • Ted says that he was taking piano lessons but it's seen in Tailgate, Three Days of Snow​​ and Drumroll, Please that Ted is playing the piano.
    • However, it's possible Ted was in on Barney's lie from the start and pretended to take piano lessons, as he is seen playing the piano in the end.
  • After Ted fell when he was skating, once he was trying to stand up it is possible to see his microphone.

Allusions and Outside References


Other Notes

  • Marshall only appears in flashbacks, but not in the present.
  • Marshall has been known to play the piano, especially in Hopeless and Slapsgiving.
  • Ted was laughing about playing Crash Test Dummies songs on Barney and Robin's wedding. Alan Thicke sang a song of Crash Test Dummies at the rehearsal dinner. 
  • The piano piece Ted is attempting to play in the flashback is Chopin's Etude Op. 10, No. 5, also known as "Black Keys".
  • In Barney's flashback to the time he went to the "laser tag arena" that turned out to be the Farhampton Ice Rink, the real sign is faintly visible underneath the laser tag banner.
  • While the gang makes Canada jokes in the background of the bar, a couple meets, gets engaged, has a child, the child graduates, and finally the wife becomes widowed and a new man hits on her.
  • In the final scene, behind Barney and Robin, the elk and a few of the party guests are playing hockey with Robin's aunt's hair. Robin told Ted that this happens when her aunt becomes heavily intoxicated.



  • The episode was viewed by 8.04 million people.[1]
  • Donna Bowman of The A.V Club gave the episode an A-.[2]
  • Max Nicholson of IGN gave the episode a 7.9 out of 10.[3]
  • The St. Petersburg Comic Review gave this episode 10 out of 10 stars. "A fabulous episode with the twist you've been looking for!"


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