Plan the Perfect Rehearsal Dinner in 9 Simple Steps

Don’t let yourself get too stressed over planning your own rehearsal dinner. Here is how to organize the perfect rehearsal dinner:

  • Decide who’s hosting
  • Consider casual
  • Choose a fun theme
  • Pick a perfect spot
  • Create a guest list
  • Time it right
  • Pass the mic
  • Give gifts
  • Friendly reminders

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Rehearsal dinners have evolved into full-blown events, but there’s no need to stress out about planning your own. Here’s how to organize a flawless one — effortlessly.

1. Decide Who’s Hosting

Traditionally, the bride’s parents paid for the wedding and the groom’s parents took care of the rehearsal dinner. These days, anything goes. If both sets of parents are sharing the costs of the wedding, then perhaps you and your fiancé may want to pay for the rehearsal dinner.

2. Consider Casual

More and more couples are opting to keep the rehearsal dinner relaxed and low-key. Aside from ensuring that it won’t upstage the more formal wedding, a casual rehearsal dinner will loosen up guests who are meeting for the first time. The dress code can come down a notch or more from the wedding attire. To encourage conversation among guests, you might consider open seating rather than assigned tables and buffet or family-style food service.

3. Choose a Fun Theme

A fun way kick off the wedding weekend is to incorporate a theme into your rehearsal dinner. You can build the party around your cultural background, for example (as in a colorful tapas-and-paella fiesta to reflect a bride’s Spanish heritage), or play up the wedding’s location (say, a wine-and-cheese-tasting party if there are some vineyards in the area). Here are a few more rehearsal-dinner themes:

Outdoor Barbecue: A grilled feast and a game of softball is an inexpensive, relaxed, and easy-to-prepare party for groups both large and small.

Seaside Clambake: Lobster and clams on the sand at sunset is a deliciously low-key and informal treat. Add a bonfire and s’mores for a sweet ending.

Sports Night: Baseball-stadium boxes are a fun party spot for all ages. Serve ballpark faves such as hot dogs and beer.

First-Date Celebration: Chances are, the place was romantic enough to inspire the two of you; let that same spirit infuse your dinner. Hold the party at the site of your first date and name tables after other spots that are meaningful to you.

Hoedown: A country-themed bash, complete with a square-dance caller, will keep guests entertained. Serve southern favorites like fried chicken and cornbread so guests can do-si-do the night away.

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