Ask the Designer
A Nontraditional Rehearsal Dinner
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