The rehearsal dinner is a wonderful celebration, a special time to enjoy with your loved ones. It’s also often their first opportunity to mix and mingle and get to know one another. Typically held the night before the ceremony, the rehearsal dinner sets the tone for the whole wedding weekend. However, while you want to make it fun and memorable, it should never overshadow the main event! Instead, it should complement or supplement what you have planned for the following day, while leaving guests wanting more. I’ve found that the best way to do this is to incorporate a mix of personal details, creative entertainment, and sentimental touches. Here are eight creative ideas to get you started!
Choose a unique venue. Many people think a rehearsal dinner has to take place in a restaurant. But really, there are no rules! A unique and unexpected venue will immediately make your rehearsal dinner memorable for your guests. Just be sure to provide transportation if you choose an out-of-the-way location.
Hire a local band. A live band is a great way to create a vibey atmosphere right from the start. It’s also a fun way to give guests a taste of the wedding location, especially if you’re planning a destination wedding.
Invite as few or as many people as you want. Traditionally, a rehearsal dinner was for the wedding party, as well as immediate family, and sometimes out-of-town guests. These days, however, couples are making their guest list whatever they want. Some invite the entire wedding to a more casual rehearsal event, while others have a small dinner and then invite other guests to a drinks or dessert reception later. Make your own rules, within the limits of your budget.
Have a theme. Adding a theme to your event is always a good way to make it unique. You can keep it simple (for example, with an elegant nautical theme if you’re getting married on the coast) or really go all out. Base the theme on your location for a destination wedding, or something that means a lot to you as a couple. You could even theme your reception dinner around your honeymoon. Hawaiian luau or Mexican fiesta, anyone?
Get creative with your menu. Your menu is the perfect way to bring in personal touches. For example, you could pay tribute to one or both of your families’ cultural heritage, or serve food that references your history as a couple. A grazing table is another fun idea and has the bonus of being a great ice breaker.
Make the bar a feature. Getting creative with your bar always adds a fun twist to the evening. From signature cocktails to a unique pop-up bar, there are lots of ways to up the ante! It’s also a good time to include any drink ideas you loved for your wedding, but decided not to include.
Focus on an activity. A rehearsal dinner doesn’t have to be a dinner at all! You can make it a fun activity – this works particularly well for destination weddings. For example: a vineyard tasting, a walking food tour, bowling night, distillery tour, game night, or even a murder mystery party.
Don’t forget the speeches. Rehearsal dinners are less formal than weddings and so are the speeches. They often include some of the loveliest and most personal tributes. Choose the speakers ahead of time or make it an open mic style situation. Just be sure to have someone on hand to record the speeches on video.
Remember: just as there’s no one way to plan a wedding, there’s no single way to throw a rehearsal dinner. Whatever kind of party you choose, just make sure it’s something that you both love!
Image by Jose Villa