Let’s talk about creative rehearsal dinner ideas. Want to know what’s true, mind-blowingly exciting about wedding planning? Somewhere, in the midst of place settings and dress fittings and venue deposits, you are figuring out how to get almost all of the people who are important to you in one place, at one time.
UPDATED REHEARSAL DINNER ETIQUETTE:
First up, do you even have to have a rehearsal dinner? The real answer is one only you (or possibly your mama) know for sure. In some parts of the US, a rehearsal dinner is considered beyond mandatory. In other parts of the country, people can take it or leave it.
Traditionally, the rehearsal dinner was only for immediate family, the wedding party, and their dates. You know, the people that would otherwise be at a wedding rehearsal. But these days, rehearsal dinners often include everyone in from out of town, or just… everyone. In short, that means you have a lot of control over how big or how small you want to make this thing.
Traditionally, the rehearsal dinner was paid for by the groom’s family (since, you know, the bride’s family paid for everything else). But thankfully those days are long gone. That means the rehearsal dinner costs are generally just split up as part of the general wedding expenses. Though, if one or the other of your parents WANT to pay for it? We say, let them!
BACKYARD/PARK BBQ/POTLUCK REHEARSAL DINNER
This is a common and super laid-back idea. Maybe you had toyed with the idea of a potluck style wedding reception but decided against it—this is the perfect time to run with that! Maybe the hosts are in charge of barbecuing the main dishes and ask guests to bring sides and desserts. Or perhaps you hire a few food trucks for a fun vibe. Really, though, all you need is some food, tables and chairs, paper plates, and good tunes!
GAME DAY REHEARSAL DINNER
Whether in a backyard or at a nearby park, you could make some team t-shirts and play a big game of softball or kickball. Or, you could bring in cornhole, horseshoes, and croquet. Grill up some hot dogs and hamburgers, and you’ve got a rehearsal game day! Also, pro-tip: There are catering companies that only do cookouts. They tend to mostly do things like company parties, but they can provide really affordable catering for a picnic, without you having to do any setup, clean up, or shopping.
PIZZA PARTY REHEARSAL DINNER
Either at a local pizza restaurant or at home, everyone loves pizza and can enjoy a pizza party. I’ve seen it done with take-and-bake style pizzas at home and with pizza delivery. There are also traveling wood-fired pizza oven caterers who will come cook fresh hot pizza for your whole party! Turn on some music, or hire a local band or musician, and this will be a pizza party no one will forget.
RESTAURANT REHEARSAL DINNER
It’s pretty traditional to have a rehearsal dinner in a restaurant. Most restaurants will help you do a partial or full buyout so that you and your whole crew of people will be well taken care of (or you can go simple, and make a reservation for your group). Just don’t feel trapped by picking a boring restaurant.
DESSERT AND DRINKS REHEARSAL DINNER
Think of it like the traditional cake and champagne church reception, but for your rehearsal dinner. Ask family and friends to bake desserts, or order up a little dessert bar from a local bakery. Have some drinks on hand, and let it be an open house-style party for a few hours. This way guests can go to dinner anywhere they wish (aka you don’t have to negotiate the someplace that’s both paleo and vegan-friendly), but they still get to spend time with the two of you!