Gone are the days when rehearsal dinners were all about galvanizing family and members of the wedding party sitting around a restaurant table chatting about their respective roles in the wedding. Formal rehearsal dinners are taking a back seat to more inclusive, casual soirees that welcome more guests to relax and enjoy special time with the couple and wedding party.
A peek into Kristin and Andrew Small’s welcome party at Striper’s Restaurant at the Breakwater Inn & Spa in Kennebunkport, Maine, illuminates just how creative and fun the pre-wedding gathering can be. The couple met and fell in love in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but decided to return to Andrew’s favorite spot in Maine to get married. Although their wedding plans included an antler chandelier hung in a Sperry tent and a vow not to host a typical nautical themed wedding, a lobster bake at a spectacular setting was the perfect prelude party to welcome family and friends before the couple’s big day.
An authentic lobster bake took center stage at the event and was complete with seaweed, steam, lobster, clams, corn on the cob and plenty of melted butter. Tables draped in navy ocean-inspired linens were festively set, and guests were given mini pails holding claw crackers and bibs.. Fifty guests enjoyed appetizers, dinner and evening cocktails. “It was a beautiful night at a spectacular location,” says Kristin, who remembers the gorgeous sunset.
Erica Trombetti of Infinite Events, based in Newport, Rhode Island, shares a trio of out-of-the-box ideas for pre-wedding gatherings:
❖ Host a beach day. Invite all of your guests for a casual rehearsal on the beach. Have a cookout, volleyball tournament, games and even a bonfire!
❖ For intimate, local wedding rehearsals, try a pot luck: Have your guests bring their favorite dish and the recipe for you to keep.
❖ For more relaxed, laid-back couples, rent out a sailboat and tour the coastline. You can fit a good amount of guests and all you have to do is provide snacks and alcohol. It’s a great way to catch up with everyone!
Trombetti has four tips for couples to consider when planning a welcoming event:
❖ If your wedding is out of state and some guests are traveling a long distance, invite them to your rehearsal dinner along with your immediate family and bridal party.
❖ Have the people giving speeches at your rehearsal dinner be different from those rising to the occasion at your wedding. Or, schedule all the speeches for your rehearsal dinner, which will get guests on the dance floor faster on your wedding day.
❖ Provide transportation to and from the rehearsal dinner and ceremony for out-of-town guests. It’s a nice way of thanking them for traveling to celebrate with you on your special day.
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