Rehearsal Dinners are one of the most rewarding and interesting events that we as Event Coordinators organize. It’s the first chance to make a great impression for both you as a couple, and your guests. Most of invited guests don’t know each other, are nervous, and are just plain jumpy at the prospect of meeting all of those new folks and soon to be family members. And then there is the problem of who to invite! In the “old days” – rehearsal dinners were restricted to just the wedding party and maybe their significant others. But even with that we were talking about 30 – 40 people at most. These days there is a sense of obligation to entertain your close immediate family members, all of the wedding party – which have grown substantially over the years – their significant others as well as allof the out of town guests. And then, there are your friends that actually live in your city – can’t have a party and not invite them! What’s couple to do? Or more accurately, what’s the person footing the bill supposed to do? Lately, most couples have been challenged to entertain all of these groups. The expenses can reach epic proportions! Rehearsal Dinners are meant to be fun and casual with a lot less stress and drama. So why not have your cake and eat it too?
Consider having a small rehearsal dinner – the event where you actually feed the guests – for just the wedding party and your immediate family, then expand your evening to include out-of-towners and friends with a “WELCOME TO OUR WEDDING WEEKEND EVENT!” This type of event allows you to entertain with some control – think of it as meeting your friends at a bar. Following the formal dinner – which typically takes 2 to 2 ½ hours – your friends and your out of town guests can show up later and help you get your wedding celebration off to a great start!. You can elect to serve light snacks or desserts with a full blown bar without breaking the bank. Consider bringing in a food truck or having a late night pizza station. You might even consider offering a cash bar to your guests. Your Rehearsal Dinner needs to be the beginning of a fabulous weekend surrounded by your friends and family. Anxiety levels need to be low and excitement for you the couple needs to be high. When choosing a venue for your rehearsal dinner make sure you select a great location that meets your needs as you begin your life together. Then, take a deep breath and relax! The best is yet to come.
Here are some helpful suggestions when planning your rehearsal dinner:
1. This is your event to really showcase your personality as a couple. Food should reflect your personal tastes. Your selections can be from a very formal dinner to a backyard barbecue and everything in between. Often the food is a reflection of a couple’s heritage or a favorite place to dine. Catering St. Louis Events has several “themed” options you can choose from. Each event has limited décor that comes with your package to set the tone.
2. Toasts made at the Rehearsal Dinner tend to be spontaneous and are good time to share memories by family and close friends. This is also a wonderful opportunity for the bride and grooms to thank all of their guests who have been so supportive of them over the last few months, and to present them a small token of their appreciation.
3. Often childhood photographs in the form of a video slideshow provide the entertainment for the evening. Audio/visual equipment, including music, needs to be a consideration, along with a hand-held microphone for introductions and toasts. Your venue should be able to assist you with these arrangements.
4. If you choose to invite guests later, be sure that it the time to arrive at the venue is clear to them. You won’t want to short-change the traditional dinner. For this reason, it will be very important for you to stay on the schedule recommended by your event coordinator.
5. Don’t feel uncomfortable about switching over to a cash bar following dinner. It’s the same thing as meeting up with friends afterwards. Let your friends buy a round – or you can pick up the tab! It doesn’t make any difference to us – we’ve got you covered!
Special thanks to Carleen Kramer of Catering St. Louis for contributing this story.