Bringing Two Families Together ::

Hosting a Great Rehearsal Dinner

A rehearsal dinner is a great excuse to bring your closest friends and family together for a celebration before you say “I Do”. It is a laid back opportunity for your friends and family to get to know each other as well as allowing you an intimate setting to mingle with your guests. There is no real set formula or pomp and circumstance. It can be as formal as a sit down dinner in a restaurant or as low key as backyard BBQ with food trucks. Whatever you choose to do it is important that it reflects who you are as a couple.  Here are 8 tips to keep in mind when planning your rehearsal dinner.

1) Location

When choosing a rehearsal dinner location consider places that mean something to you as a couple. For example, hosting it at a local winery since you are wine enthusiasts or having dinner catered to your guests in your favorite art gallery. Select a venue that is a different style than your wedding. If your reception is in a hotel ballroom then consider having your rehearsal dinner outside or in a setting that has windows showing off a view of the city. Look into places that are unique to the city you are getting married in to enhance your guests wedding experience.

2) Theme

It is important to have fun while planning your rehearsal dinner. You might want to consider giving your rehearsal dinner a theme that represents you as a couple. Do you like to play games? Then have it at an upscale bowling alley or host a murder mystery dinner party. Do you want to pay tribute to your heritage? Then use your menu and décor to show where you are both from. Are you getting married on the coast? Then have an informal clam bake and bonfire while watching the sunset.

3) Food

When selecting your menu consider options that are different from your wedding menu. Create a menu or beverage that goes along with your theme or location. It is nice to use fresh ingredients that are local to the area that you are getting married. If you are getting married in the south serve a family style meat and three or serve tapas with wine pairings for a wine country wedding. Handpick a signature beverage from your local favorite brewery or distillery. Another nice touch is to incorporate your culture and use favorite recipes from both sides of the family. Honor your roots with your grandmother’s key lime pie or your aunt’s famous pie.

4) Décor

Use your décor to bring your two families together.  Display wedding pictures of your parents and grandparents, exhibit your family trees, present a friend/family photo wall or slide show. Consider incorporating items that tell your love story in your centerpieces. For example, if you love to travel then use pictures or tokens from your travels on each of the dinner tables.

5) Ice Breakers

This is often the first time some of the bride and groom’s family meet. Integrate various games into your party to help entice your guests to get to know each other and reduce awkward small talk. For instance, casino games, corn-hole, Jenga, bocce ball, bride and groom trivia, or personalized bingo.

6) Music

Play background music that is sentimental to you and your families. Generate a unique playlist or hire a musician to play during your dinner. Consider playing music that represents your ethnicity. Perhaps, if you are Scottish have a bagpiper welcoming guests as they arrive.

7) Toasts

Leave the toasts for the rehearsal dinner and not the wedding reception. It allows you more time on the dance floor enjoying your favorite band or catching up with your guests during the reception. Plus, if Uncle Mike decides to get carried away with his toast it will just be among close friends and family.

8) Set Up a #Hashtag

Encourage your guests to use your personalized wedding hashtag when posting photos throughout the weekend. This is a fun way for everyone to share photos and get to know each other. It will also allow you to capture moments that you might otherwise miss out on during your special day.

Above all have fun with it! The rehearsal dinner is really a gathering to allow your wedding party to celebrate you as a couple.  Enjoy it, as it is usually the start to 24 hours of your life that you will remember forever.