Rehearsal dinners are the last thing many couples want to think about when they are knee-deep in wedding planning—it can seem like just another thing to pay for and plan. The key is to make the most of your rehearsal dinner: this post-ceremony-practice event isn’t just a cumbersome wedding custom, but a chance to take some time before your wedding day to relax and enjoy being with your partner and your closest friends and family. To illustrate just how extraordinarily fun this portion of your wedding weekend can be, we’ve put together five wedding rehearsal dinner ideas. They may differ in style, but each really gets to the heart of the meaning behind the custom—making memories with those you love.
Backyard BBQ Wedding Rehearsal Dinners
First up on our list: BBQ in the backyard. Although laid-back and simple in style, this rehearsal dinner idea is anything but boring or plain. Whether it’s a Southern-style pig-pickin’ or hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, gather in the backyard for a home-cooked, delicious meal, play games in the grass, and have a great time. We love rehearsal dinners of this type because they aren’t overly complicated to plan, they seem more like a summer party than a wedding event, and they are a lot cheaper than the their formal counterparts. It’s easy to relax and just enjoy yourself with this low-key and no-fuss-style rehearsal dinner.
Picnic Wedding Rehearsal Dinners
If you want to take it a step further and make it even more lighthearted and easygoing, then you can’t go wrong with a picnic-themed rehearsal dinner. Throw some blankets out into the yard or in a local park, order some fancy sandwiches and cheese boards from your favorite gourmet deli, chill a bunch of beers and bottles of rosé in coolers, and you’re all set. We just adore picnics because they are uncomplicated and add a whimsical, romantic touch. The best part of this approach to your wedding rehearsal dinner is that it’s so darn easy—plus it’s a great excuse to get outside in warm weather, and almost everyone loves a classy picnic.
Formal Wedding Rehearsal Dinners
Before you start wondering why this one made our list, hear us out. Although they can often take on the characteristics of a wedding before the actual wedding, the formal rehearsal dinner also has its merits. First of all, this approach can be very intimate. With everyone seated at tables together, sharing conversation and laughs becomes easy. And since this type of rehearsal dinner is typically catered, you won’t have to worry about sourcing, serving, or cleaning up the meal.
Another reason some couples choose to host formal wedding rehearsal dinners is that their original vision for a formal, black-tie wedding became too expensive to pull off. So instead, they take a more more laid-back route for the wedding and save the formality for the smaller rehearsal dinner (less guests = less costs). Win-win.
We also love formal wedding rehearsal dinners for certain logistical reasons. For one, wedding toasts can take up a lot of precious dancing time, so a formal rehearsal dinner can be a great way to get toasts accomplished before the wedding in a more private setting. Their intimate nature can also allow the couple to spend quality time with guests than the quick greetings their wedding day timeline might only allow for. Lastly, couples can show off another side of their style. Couldn’t incorporate those amazing candleabras into your wedding day decor? Use them during the rehearsal dinner.
Brunch Wedding Rehearsal Dinners
Nobody ever said that your rehearsal dinner actually had to be a “dinner.” Instead, you can mix it up a bit and do a wedding rehearsal brunch the morning before your wedding or the same day as your wedding if you’re having an evening affair. This way you aren’t hosting two dinners in a row and you can treat yourself and guests to an amazing brunch spread which, let’s face, is everyone’s favorite kind of food. Serve pancakes or waffles, put together a fruit and yogurt station, set up a self-serve mimosa bar, and you’re all set for a less conventional version of the formal rehearsal dinner.
Activity Wedding Rehearsal Dinners
Similar to the breakfast rehearsal, the activity-based rehearsal dinner is more focused on a fun group event rather than a sit-down meal. For some, this could mean playing baseball (or actually going to a game), teaming off for a round of mini-golf, or even having a carnival-inspired games and prizes. With this type of rehearsal dinner, your imagination is the limit—which is one of the many reasons why we applaud this approach. Even more than that, it’s an incredible way to take your mind off the upcoming wedding. Although a bit more work to pull off, this style isn’t any more difficult than planning a sit-down soiree. The best part? Your rehearsal dinner guests will love it.
So before you declare your dislike for wedding rehearsal dinners, explore different ways to approach the event and really make it as much a part of you as your wedding day. Forget rules and traditions: make it a fun party that will inspire lively stories and memories for a lifetime.