Articles

Great Advice for Wedding Planning

Planning Your Rehearsal Dinner

by Katie Day

Life Art Photographers

Your wedding is the main event, but the rehearsal dinner is the big kickoff to your wedding. So, what can you expect? What goes into planning the dinner? And what are some do's and don'ts that the experts tend to swear by? Let's explore these suggestions so you can start planning today!

DO: START PLANNING EARLY

Planning a pre-wedding event takes time and effort. Even though your rehearsal dinner will likely be a more relaxed event than the wedding itself, it's still a very important part of your wedding celebration.

"The rehearsal dinner can take a lot of planning, depending on the size and type of event, so it's never too early to get the ball rolling," says John Montgomery, Co-Owner of Designed Events, Inc.

Ideally, you should get started on the initial planning about four months in advance. However, if you're set on a particular venue or if the event will be hosted in a popular location, then you may want to begin even sooner. Starting early will be less stressful for you, your groom and any family members involved in the planning process, and it will help in ensuring that you have the type of rehearsal dinner that you actually want.

When starting the planning process, there are a few key pieces of information you'll want to have on hand. Being prepared will go a long way!

"As a planner, to get started, we need to know the estimated number of guests attending, what type of environment to expect, who is paying the bill and an estimated budget for the party, if applicable, along with what area geographically you would like to host the event," advises Danielle Witucki, Founder and Lead Planner of 1928 Planning Co .. Remember that your rehearsal dinner sets your entire wedding into motion! Don't let it take a backseat during the planning process.

DON'T: MAKE THE REHEARSAL DINNER MATCH THE WEDDING

Of course you'll want all of your wedding related events to be cohesive, but your rehearsal dinner doesn't necessarily need to be a mini version of your wedding celebration. "[The rehearsal dinner] should not be too similar to the wedding, and it should certainly not be more formal than the wedding," advises Nicole Mower, Owner, Lead Planner and Coordinator for Nicole Mower Weddings and Events.

When it comes to formality, you should try to match things up as closely as possible, since your rehearsal dinner will be setting the tone for the events of the following day. Yet, this doesn't mean that you don't have a chance to be creative. Inspire your guests with the decorations or the food, and bring as much of your personality into the little details as you possibly can.

Also, keep in mind that you will want to keep the colors complementary, but not exactly the same as the wedding day colors, so that you can switch up the actual theme of the decor. The rehearsal dinner is generally a more relaxed experience than the wedding day, so your décor and menu should reflect that aesthetic.

"Select a menu that suits the two of you and isn't necessarily just a traditional dinner menu," suggests Witucki. Consider serving you or your groom's favorite foods or incorporating a fun signature drink.

"This is a chance to be a little more experimental with food and flavors, versus at the actual wedding," says Montgomery. "I like to encourage a theme for the food, whether it be International, American, Southern or a combo of influences generated by the locale or the nationalities of the attendants. Consumers are extremely food savvy, in part due to the internet, and they generally like to see a variety of foods. These days, virtually nothing is off limits."

Next, when it comes to selecting the menu and the style of the dinner, there are several options for you to consider. "[Rehearsal dinners] can include the typical sit-down more formal style, a buffet, a luau where guests interact with the chefs cooking, an informal barbeque or even a non-traditional hors d'oeuvre butler-style menu that keeps guests moving and chatting," says Montgomery.

Each different dinner option will give your rehearsal a different aesthetic and formality. If you're hosting a lot of out-of-town guests, or have family and friends that haven't seen each other in a while or have never even met, you may want to opt for a more casual evening with a less formal dinner. It will give family and friends the chance to mingle and get to know each other before the wedding day. However, if you're hosting a very formal wedding, you may want to carry that formality over to the rehearsal dinner with an elegant plated, sit-down dinner.

DO: ADD PERSONALIZED, UNIQUE TOUCHES 

This is your wedding weekend, so make sure your rehearsal dinner reflects who you are as a couple. Consider adding small, personal touches throughout the night to make the dinner feel more intimate.

Many couples decorate the rehearsal space by putting their photographs on the tables with the centerpieces or by having a collage or scrapbook displayed. You may also want to have a slideshow playing in the background that showcases your relationship.

When it comes to the location, couples are also opting to host the rehearsal dinner at a space that is meaningful to them, like the restaurant where they went on their first date. Another option is to have it catered at a family home.

DON'T: FORGET TO INCLUDE AN RSVP CARD

You know you need an RSVP card for the wedding, but it's also a good idea to include one in your rehearsal dinner invitation, too. "We've seen a large influx of couples taking a spin on the rehearsal dinner, throwing a welcome party for all guests who have traveled in from out-of-town. This turns a guest count from 20-30 into 80-1 00," says Witucki. "It's likely that your venue and caterer will need a firm head count, so an RSVP card will make it easier for you to stay on top of who will be in attendance."

To make the planning process easier, Montgomery recommends adding a line at the bottom of the RSVP card for guests to indicate any dietary restrictions or concerns. You can then pass those cards along to the caterer to ensure that any food concerns are noted.

DO: SAY THANK YOU

The rehearsal dinner is a perfect time to let your closest family and friends know how much they mean to you and just how you've appreciated their help and support during the wedding planning process.

"Couples should expect to put together a short 'thank you' speech to their family and wedding party for being by their side and helping them prepare for their day," Mower says.

Mower also notes that the rehearsal dinner is also typically when brides and grooms give small 'thank you' gifts to their wedding party, parents and anyone else who was an integral part of the planning process.

DON'T: STRESS OUT

It's easy to feel overwhelmed as your wedding day approaches, so use the rehearsal dinner as a time to relax. "Expect great food, a matching environment, focused attention on the couple and a night filled with exciting anticipation for what's to come tomorrow," Witucki says.

The rehearsal dinner should be a fun start to an amazing wedding. So, don't stress out about the little things. Be sure to use this time to celebrate and have fun with your family and friends!

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Your wedding is the main event, but the rehearsal dinner is the big kickoff to your wedding. So, what can you expect? What goes into planning the dinner? And what are some do's and don'ts that the experts tend to swear by? Let's explore these suggestions so you can start planning today!

DO: START PLANNING EARLY

Planning a pre-wedding event takes time and effort. Even though your rehearsal dinner will likely be a more relaxed event than the wedding itself, it's still a very important part of your wedding celebration.

"The rehearsal dinner can take a lot of planning, depending on the size and type of event, so it's never too early to get the ball rolling," says John Montgomery, Co-Owner of Designed Events, Inc.

Ideally, you should get started on the initial planning about four months in advance. However, if you're set on a particular venue or if the event will be hosted in a popular location, then you may want to begin even sooner. Starting early will be less stressful for you, your groom and any family members involved in the planning process, and it will help in ensuring that you have the type of rehearsal dinner that you actually want.

When starting the planning process, there are a few key pieces of information you'll want to have on hand. Being prepared will go a long way!

"As a planner, to get started, we need to know the estimated number of guests attending, what type of environment to expect, who is paying the bill and an estimated budget for the party, if applicable, along with what area geographically you would like to host the event," advises Danielle Witucki, Founder and Lead Planner of 1928 Planning Co .. Remember that your rehearsal dinner sets your entire wedding into motion! Don't let it take a backseat during the planning process.

DON'T: MAKE THE REHEARSAL DINNER MATCH THE WEDDING

Of course you'll want all of your wedding related events to be cohesive, but your rehearsal dinner doesn't necessarily need to be a mini version of your wedding celebration. "[The rehearsal dinner] should not be too similar to the wedding, and it should certainly not be more formal than the wedding," advises Nicole Mower, Owner, Lead Planner and Coordinator for Nicole Mower Weddings and Events.

When it comes to formality, you should try to match things up as closely as possible, since your rehearsal dinner will be setting the tone for the events of the following day. Yet, this doesn't mean that you don't have a chance to be creative. Inspire your guests with the decorations or the food, and bring as much of your personality into the little details as you possibly can.

Also, keep in mind that you will want to keep the colors complementary, but not exactly the same as the wedding day colors, so that you can switch up the actual theme of the decor. The rehearsal dinner is generally a more relaxed experience than the wedding day, so your décor and menu should reflect that aesthetic.

"Select a menu that suits the two of you and isn't necessarily just a traditional dinner menu," suggests Witucki. Consider serving you or your groom's favorite foods or incorporating a fun signature drink.

"This is a chance to be a little more experimental with food and flavors, versus at the actual wedding," says Montgomery. "I like to encourage a theme for the food, whether it be International, American, Southern or a combo of influences generated by the locale or the nationalities of the attendants. Consumers are extremely food savvy, in part due to the internet, and they generally like to see a variety of foods. These days, virtually nothing is off limits."

Next, when it comes to selecting the menu and the style of the dinner, there are several options for you to consider. "[Rehearsal dinners] can include the typical sit-down more formal style, a buffet, a luau where guests interact with the chefs cooking, an informal barbeque or even a non-traditional hors d'oeuvre butler-style menu that keeps guests moving and chatting," says Montgomery.

Each different dinner option will give your rehearsal a different aesthetic and formality. If you're hosting a lot of out-of-town guests, or have family and friends that haven't seen each other in a while or have never even met, you may want to opt for a more casual evening with a less formal dinner. It will give family and friends the chance to mingle and get to know each other before the wedding day. However, if you're hosting a very formal wedding, you may want to carry that formality over to the rehearsal dinner with an elegant plated, sit-down dinner.

DO: ADD PERSONALIZED, UNIQUE TOUCHES 

This is your wedding weekend, so make sure your rehearsal dinner reflects who you are as a couple. Consider adding small, personal touches throughout the night to make the dinner feel more intimate.

Many couples decorate the rehearsal space by putting their photographs on the tables with the centerpieces or by having a collage or scrapbook displayed. You may also want to have a slideshow playing in the background that showcases your relationship.

When it comes to the location, couples are also opting to host the rehearsal dinner at a space that is meaningful to them, like the restaurant where they went on their first date. Another option is to have it catered at a family home.

DON'T: FORGET TO INCLUDE AN RSVP CARD

You know you need an RSVP card for the wedding, but it's also a good idea to include one in your rehearsal dinner invitation, too. "We've seen a large influx of couples taking a spin on the rehearsal dinner, throwing a welcome party for all guests who have traveled in from out-of-town. This turns a guest count from 20-30 into 80-1 00," says Witucki. "It's likely that your venue and caterer will need a firm head count, so an RSVP card will make it easier for you to stay on top of who will be in attendance."

To make the planning process easier, Montgomery recommends adding a line at the bottom of the RSVP card for guests to indicate any dietary restrictions or concerns. You can then pass those cards along to the caterer to ensure that any food concerns are noted.

DO: SAY THANK YOU

The rehearsal dinner is a perfect time to let your closest family and friends know how much they mean to you and just how you've appreciated their help and support during the wedding planning process.

"Couples should expect to put together a short 'thank you' speech to their family and wedding party for being by their side and helping them prepare for their day," Mower says.

Mower also notes that the rehearsal dinner is also typically when brides and grooms give small 'thank you' gifts to their wedding party, parents and anyone else who was an integral part of the planning process.

DON'T: STRESS OUT

It's easy to feel overwhelmed as your wedding day approaches, so use the rehearsal dinner as a time to relax. "Expect great food, a matching environment, focused attention on the couple and a night filled with exciting anticipation for what's to come tomorrow," Witucki says.

The rehearsal dinner should be a fun start to an amazing wedding. So, don't stress out about the little things. Be sure to use this time to celebrate and have fun with your family and friends!

Victor Talbot
Rare 650
Holiday Inn Plainview
The Inn at Fox Hollow