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Planning a rehearsal dinner for a friend or family member can be an expensive and confusing proposition. Although most people have heard of them -- and may have attended one -- few have actually planned one. So, if you're at a loss on your first time in charge, here's a handy guide to creating an elegant affair without breaking the bank.
The Basics. Most rehearsal dinners occur a day or two before the ceremony, depending on everyone's schedules. It's often an evening meal, but it can also be a lunch or brunch if the rehearsal takes place at a different time. If you have the choice and your budget is limited, keep in mind that brunch or lunch is often a less expensive meal to pay for. You can create simple invitations or just talk to those involved in the wedding to invite them personally.
Keep it Small and Simple. Basically, the rehearsal dinner should include those who were invited to the actual rehearsal (plus their partners, if applicable). This generally self-limits the size of the dinner you have to plan, but people can let it get out of control by inviting bystanders from the rehearsal, out of town guests, or friends and family who aren't in the wedding. If your budget is limited, send out invitations letting guests know that the dinner is by invitation only. You can help yourself avoid pressure to invite unnecessary people by knowing the limits of your venue.
Find a Combination Venue. Since a rehearsal dinner involves food and a nice location, it's best to combine the two and use a private dining area at a local restaurant. Choose a restaurant you enjoy that has sufficient ambiance so that you don't need to do much to the space itself. If possible, try negotiating a flat fee per head that includes dinner, drinks, and dessert for a set number of guests. If that's not possible, ask if you can bring in your own wine and/or a small cake for the evening. Keeping the venue somewhat casual will also help avoid cost overruns in the food, drinks, attire, and tips.
Give it Flavor. The rehearsal dinner is part of the wedding week, but it should have its own unique stamp. You may choose to tie it in to the wedding via colors, style, or theme, but you aren't obligated to. You could choose a different theme -- such as the honeymoon location, family history, local color, or the restaurant's theme itself. Or go for a simpler unique aspect like creating a signature cocktail to toast the bride and groom or engaging in a little lighthearted karaoke.
If you follow these steps above, you can plan a fantastic rehearsal dinner that will kick off the wedding day festivities in style... and still have money left when it's all over.Share