Once upon a time, the rehearsal dinner was a small event for just the wedding party and immediate family. Now they’re often big extravaganzas that can include a much more extensive guest list. While this can make the entire wedding experience a more memorable event, it also creates much more to think about. Plan ahead with these easy steps for the perfect rehearsal dinner (and don’t forget the toasts).
Planning Your Rehearsal Dinner: Book A Great Venue
The rehearsal dinner is a time for the bride and groom to relax and unwind with friends and family before the whirlwind of the wedding. A venue that takes care of everything from food, to linens, and beyond is ideal for planning the perfect stress-free event. Remember, it’s especially important to book an inviting space where guests from both sides can get to know each other in a relaxed atmosphere. Whether you’re going for a big or small event, Lightfoot Restaurant has you covered with a range of banquet rooms for parties from 30 to 150, that let you enjoy your guests and make special toasts in your own private space.
Experts recommend booking your venue six months in advance if you can. But if you’re running a little behind, don’t be afraid to call in and check with your favorite venue about availability. You never know when a surprise opening might come up.
Planning Your Rehearsal Dinner: Plan A Great Menu
Traditionally, the rehearsal dinner is more casual than the wedding itself. But while the ambiance tends to be informal, the menu can be as highbrow or casual/fun as you like. Lightfoot will help you plan the perfect menu for either a buffet or sit-down dinner. Whether you opt for casual or fancy—we have you covered from barbecue to Beef Wellington. Lightfoot can help you plan for your budget and the atmosphere you’re looking to create. Our top-notch wine, beer, and spirits program will give you a range of choices in the drinks department. And there’s no need to worry about chairs, linens, and table settings—it’s all included.
Planning Your Rehearsal Dinner: Who Hosts?
Tradition holds that the groom’s family plans and pays for the dinner. However this does not have to be the case. For those situations where the bride’s family covers the wedding, it becomes a chance for the groom’s side to put on a terrific event of their own. But as we all know, the financing of 21st Century weddings is often covered in a variety of scenarios and it’s up to each couple to decide.
If both families are chipping in to pay for the wedding, the couple may wish to cover the rehearsal dinner. Or if the bride and groom are paying for the wedding, both families can join forces for the party the night before. Note to brides: if you’re sticking with tradition and having the groom’s side cover the cost, you’re certainly allowed to voice your opinion, but give your fiance’s family some room to make it special and meaningful for them. If you have your heart set on a specific venue, make it clear, then let your future mother-in-law make some decisions about décor and the guest list. It can be great chance to collaborate and bond with your future in-laws.
Planning Your Rehearsal Dinner: Who To Invite?
The rehearsal dinner guest list should include the wedding party and their spouses or significant others, as well as immediate family (parents, brothers and sisters). Etiquette also calls for inviting the officiant and his or her spouse. Since the trend is to go bigger and more inclusive, you may want to open the rehearsal dinner to all out of town guests, extended family, and close friends. It’s a great chance to catch up with loved ones in a relaxed setting before the craziness of the big day.
If you’re on a limited budget, consider a smaller dinner for the wedding party and immediate family, followed by cocktails and snacks, or dessert for a larger group of out of town friends and extended family.
Planning Your Rehearsal Dinner: The Toasts
One of the best parts of any rehearsal dinner are the speeches and toasts. While toasts on the wedding day tend to be more formal, rehearsal dinner toasts tend to be more casual, fun, and may even contain a joke or two, so be sure to keep your sense of humor. The warmth and fun of the evening’s toasts are one reason reserving a private banquet room makes so much sense.
As dessert winds down, the dinner hosts should make the first toast to get things rolling. If the groom’s family is hosting, his mom or dad should start off with a toast to the bride and her family. Then, bring on the lively toasts and stories from the members of the wedding party, and other family and friends who won’t have a chance to speak at the big event. The evening should end with a toast from the bride and groom, thanking family and guests. It’s also a good chance to make any announcements about the wedding day.
Planning Your Rehearsal Dinner: A Few More Tips
Written invitations are still recommended for rehearsal dinners in most cases. Send them out with or just after the wedding invitations so out of town guests and others can include the evening in their travel plans. Don’t forget gifts for the ever important bridesmaids and groomsmen, who also often take this opportunity to give tokens of appreciation to their own families. This can bring on a few tears, so keep the tissues handy.
The Perfect Rehearsal Dinner Lightfoot Style
At Lightfoot Restaurant, we are event specialists. Our elegant décor, perfectly appointed banquet rooms, and backyard patio make us the perfect location for any occasion, but rehearsal dinners hold a special place in our hearts. The warmth, fun, and laughter these evenings so often bring are perfectly suited to the charm of our historic building. And our professional staff will make sure that a lovely evening will get things rolling for the best possible wedding day.