Typically held the night before the wedding ceremony, the rehearsal dinner is a time for families to get to know each other and relax before the big day. Guests usually include both families and the wedding party. Many people feel it is customary and polite to invite the wedding officiant and his or her spouse as well, even though they may decline the invite.
While the rehearsal dinner used to be a highly formal event, today many couples are choosing to have casual, more creative dinners as a way to relax before the big day. Whether you love the outdoors, movie nights, and whether you want a family-friendly rehearsal or one where the alcohol flows freely, there is sure to be a unique perspective you’ve yet to think of!
7 Unique Rehearsal Dinner Ideas
Travel the World
If you are having trouble deciding on a menu for your rehearsal dinner, why not try a little of everything? If your meal will be several courses, choose a different country to “host” each one, such as having an Ethiopian appetizer and a German dessert. This is also a perfect way to add some creative flair to your dinner even if you prefer to keep it a formal event. Not only think of world foods but also regional foods from around the U.S.A.
Eat a Midnight Snack
If you’re hoping to book a popular venue during peak wedding season, you might find yourself stuck with a later time slot than you like. Instead of worrying it’s too late for dinner, why not turn it into a unique event and have a midnight snack? Gourmet popcorn, fancy cupcakes, and unique pizza toppings will add a special spin on traditional snack food favorites for your special evening.
Have a Picnic
Are you looking for a way to include children in the festivities without hosting them at an elegant ceremony or an alcohol-friendly reception? A daytime “rehearsal picnic” at a local park is the perfect compromise. Load up on traditional burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches, and bring the volleyball net and water guns for a fun-filled day that all ages will love. Many state parks will allow you to rent a picnic area or lodge for a much smaller fee than a more traditional rehearsal dinner venue would charge.
Host a Trivia Night
Do you and your spouse-to-be have a favorite bar or restaurant? If they have a room for private parties, why not rent it out and have a trivia night? Bar food is easy to prepare, definitely tasty, and likely a lot less expensive than a traditional upscale menu. Hire a private DJ to host trivia and dancing for a night you won’t forget. You could even buy some inexpensive prizes to hand out to guests with the most random knowledge.
Try a Backyard Potluck
Are you on a tight budget? Do you simply prefer a more casual atmosphere? A backyard potluck saves money, keeps things casual, and allows for little ones to enjoy the party as well. Ask each guest to sign up to bring their favorite dish—a sign-up sheet will avoid too many duplicates—and hire a backyard DJ or rent inflatable entertainment to have a unique and low-key night to unwind before the big day.
Mingle History and Food on a Walking Tour
Many major cities have started hosting walking food tours in their historic downtown neighborhoods. These tours typically last two or three hours and visit several restaurants, giving your group a taste of your entire city. The tours, which are usually an easy walk of just a couple of miles, also usually include history of the city or the restaurants you stop at along the way, which provides a truly unique perspective for a rehearsal dinner. Most walking tour providers offer private tours for small groups so you needn’t worry about sharing your special evening with strangers.
Hire Food Trucks
If you have a large wedding party, or if your family is much different from your spouse-to-be’s family, food trucks allow for a perfect event that ensures everyone you invite finds something they’ll love. Some quick research will show you which food trucks are the most popular. They’ll be able to tell you where they have permission to set up so you can decide where to host your event. From taco trucks, to burger joints, to sweet and delectable bakeries on wheels, food trucks offer limitless options.
No matter which type of rehearsal dinner—or breakfast, lunch, or snack!—you choose to host, be sure it fits what you and your spouse want. After all, impressing friends and family with a meal of haute cuisine options means nothing if you aren’t having fun. Additionally, don’t forget to book in advance. Even if you’re just having a backyard potluck, DJs and other types of entertainment book quickly during wedding season. Proper planning is very important for pulling off the perfect rehearsal meal before your wedding day.