Ask the De­signer

A Non­tra­di­tional Re­hearsal Din­ner

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Contents - Michelle Har­ri­son

Dead­lines, de­signs & de­ci­sions…oh my! This af­ter­noon, I had a lovely con­ver­sa­tion with Diane. Her son and fu­ture daugh­ter-in-law are get­ting mar­ried in Oc­to­ber and she is work­ing on the re­hearsal din­ner — a task com­monly as­signed to the groom's fam­ily.

She, like many be­fore her, was un­der the im­pres­sion this needed to be an ac­tual din­ner, at a res­tau­rant, with linens, plated ser­vices, speeches, etc.

Now, if the bride and groom are in­ter­ested in for­mal and tra­di­tional event styling, go for it! I even have a lo­ca­tion with the per­fect menu in mind, so give me a call. But, if the happy cou­ple are more in­ter­ested in a ca­sual af­fair, this is where you can have some fun with­out break­ing the bank.

In Diane's case, there will be no for­mal re­hearsal at the cer­e­mony lo­ca­tion, most guests are lo­cal and those trav­el­ing will have scat­tered ar­rival times — per­fect for a ca­sual fall gath­er­ing along the wa­ter!

Her neigh­bor­hood has a num­ber of spots with out­door and in­door lake­front op­tions. A beau­ti­ful sec­tion of beach along Lake Bal­boa fits the bill nicely and just in case Mother Na­ture de­cides to sprin­kle a lit­tle rain, there's a pav­il­ion close by. Hot Springs has no short­age of fan­tas­tic bar­be­cue out­fits — in­clud­ing some lo­cal com­pe­ti­tion teams — so find­ing some­one to cook lakeside in the fall was an easy sell. My fa­vorite lo­cal caterer is on board for some tasty sides and sweet treats. Just like ev­ery­one else, they're ex­cited about work­ing this event.

As guests ar­rive just be­fore sunset they will be greeted with live acous­tic mu­sic and a cup of warm mulled cider — a tra­di­tion at all the groom's fam­ily gath­er­ings. Pair­ings of lo­cal meats and cheeses will help quiet any twinges of hunger while fam­ily and friends steadily ar­rive. The din­ing ta­bles, bathed in can­dle­light, will be sim­ply set with a va­ri­ety of fern fronds har­vested from neigh­bors' gar­dens and show­cased in minia­ture vases from Grandma's col­lec­tion. For those who would rather stretch out a bit, vintage quilts and over­stuffed pil­lows will be wait­ing near the small but wel­com­ing bon­fire. They don't know it yet, but they will be in a prime lo­ca­tion for the gourmet s'mores bar af­ter din­ner!

The re­hearsal din­ner, night-be­fore-gath­er­ing, or what­ever you want to call it, is where your clos­est of close fam­ily and friends meet; some­times for the first time. Do your best to make it a place and time that en­cour­ages com­fort, laugh­ter and lin­ger­ing con­ver­sa­tion. The next day will be busy and a lot of it may be a bit of a blur, so take a deep breath and take it all in!

Plan­ning your event, with or with­out the help of a pro, presents a sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge to even the most de­tailed ori­ented peo­ple, re­gard­less if you have 12 weeks or 12 plus months. So, use your re­sources and work with what you have! Do this, and you can be sure your event will truly be inspired by you. Cheers, Michelle

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