Three Tips for a Well-Designed Rehearsal Dinner

We write a lot about weddings on our blog, but today I want to give a little attention to the time-honored wedding weekend tradition: the rehearsal dinner. 

Often times, the rehearsal dinner is hosted by the groom's family - especially if the bride's family is hosting the bulk of the wedding day festivities. A rehearsal dinner can be an intimate gathering that consists of only the bride, groom, wedding party, and immediate family members, or it can be so large as to include all out-of-town wedding guests as well. The size and type of dinner event is up to you, but no matter what size group you plan to entertain that evening, it's important to remember that a rehearsal dinner is often the event that officially kicks off the wedding weekend. Its your guests' first experience of your wedding celebration, and it deserves to be designed and executed every bit as thoughtfully as your wedding day will be. 

With that in mind, I'm sharing my top three tips for creating a well-designed rehearsal dinner! 

Perry Vaile Photography

Perry Vaile Photography

1. Choose a style that is distinctly different from the wedding. 

Hosting a black tie wedding that will be elegant and formal? Give your guests a taste of something different and choose a more casual setting/overall style for the rehearsal dinner. This choice not only gives you the opportunity to expose your guests to a more well-rounded weekend experience (after all, variety is the spice of life!), but it also ensures that the rehearsal dinner will not upstage your wedding. That may seem like a silly concern, but I can assure you that it isn't as far-fetched as you might think. 

Nancy Ray Photography

Nancy Ray Photography

2. Apply principles of consistency to the design. 

A well done wedding often stands out for one simple reason your guests may not be able to immediately identify: cohesiveness. The same basic concept holds true for a rehearsal dinner. Choose elements that will be consistent from invitation to table settings to entertainment. It matters tremendously. In other words, an invitation engraved with gold ink on thick ivory cotton paper has no place being paired with an tented outdoor barbecue dinner. You get the picture. 

3. Choose your wedding menu first. 

This may seem like something that belongs on a planning checklist instead of this post about design tips, but I can't stress the importance of this enough. Food is an integral part of event design. The flavors, the colors, the presentation, the level of formality of service... all of these things matter. Your wedding and rehearsal dinner menus should both be delicious and well-executed, but they shouldn't overlap. Choose the wedding meal first and then carefully craft a rehearsal dinner that includes uniquely different flavors and different proteins (i.e. don't serve salmon two nights in a row) so that your guests don't taste or experience any two similar items twice. 

And there you have it! There's much more to consider, but these three things lay the groundwork for thoughtful event design. Enjoy!