Whether you’re having a large formal wedding or a smaller, more intimate affair, your rehearsal dinner is your best chance to interact personally with your close friends and family and to thank them for joining you in your celebration. We all know after the wedding things get crazy with so many people to talk to and so many things to do throughout the celebration. But rehearsal dinners are usually smaller than the wedding and give you a chance to chat with each one of your attendants and family members one on one.
It’s not necessary to spend a fortune on the event, and many brides and couples are opting for less formal gatherings. At The Warren, we have hosted everything from very formal seated dinners to fried chicken dinners (a great option for our southern brides hosting out-of-towners). Here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan your evening before your big day:
WHO TO INVITE:
- Traditional invitees are: all attendants, ushers, readers and helpers, parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, your officiate, wedding planner, and any musicians. You do not have to include dates, but it does make things more fun. If you include dates for some people, it is polite to offer everyone the option of bringing a date.
- If you don’t have the budget to include all of your out of town guests for dinner, consider throwing an after dinner dessert party where those folks you don’t include for the dinner can join in for drinks, dessert and dancing, or just an after dinner gathering for everyone in from out of town. The Warren has a dj that starts most nights at 10pm to entertain your guests.
WHAT TO SERVE:
- If you want a mingling atmosphere, offer a buffet with heavy hors d’oeurvres. Keep in mind though that someone will have to make a conscious effort to organize the toasts in this setting. A seated meal will always be slightly more formal.
- We like to offer guests options for dinner and hate those pre-selection menu cards. For a seated dinner, just choose a menu with 2 to 3 entrees and avoid all that paperwork. For a buffet, it is not necessary to order every item for every guest, but it is a good idea to order enough of each protein item for all of your guests.
- Consider offering appetizers during a cocktail hour. That way early arrivers will have something to snack on before dinner.
- Many brides and grooms are substituting the dessert at the rehearsal dinner for the groom’s cake.
- It is perfectly acceptable to offer beer and wine instead of a full bar, especially if you will be offering a full bar at your reception. It is also acceptable to set a limit on the timeframe during which you will provide an open bar, even though the celebration may continue later in the evening.
HOW TO DECORATE:
- Many brides use this event to introduce some decor they didn’t get to use at the wedding ceremony. Maybe wildflower centerpieces at their rehearsal dinner for a formal wedding or a formal seated rehearsal dinner for a casual garden wedding. These days, the sky’s the limit, so express yourself as you will.
- If you’re all out of ideas and sick of planning, photos of you and your friends framed on the tables with candles, or just a simple votive arrangement make nice centerpieces. We designed The Warren so outside decor is not necessary to host a beautiful event and invite our idea-weary brides and grooms to take advantage of our lovely ambiance.
- The host (often the groom’s dad, but can be the groom, the groom’s mom or someone else the couple chooses) traditionally says a few words of welcome at the beginning of the dinner. Choose to use an open mic if you feel like this person’s voice will be lost, otherwise a naked voice is more intimate.
- Don’t skip the toasts – they are fun and give your friends a chance to honor, celebrate, and poke fun at you. The best man traditionally kicks off the toasts.
- If someone offers to make you a dvd to show, go ahead and let them. You will treasure it always. A conflict avoidance note: use photos of the bride and groom only or include an equal number of family photos from each side. Show the dvd as dessert is being served.