The rehearsal dinner’s primary function is to cover the logistics of the big day. You know, who is walking where, at what time, for how long, which folks are escorting in family, who is hiding the flasks, etc. It’s certainly an important night and often wedding parties have fun AFTER the rehearsal dinner, but there is no reason you cannot also have fun DURING the rehearsal dinner! In fact, we might go so far as to say the rehearsal dinner could actually be more fun than the wedding. Well, that is, if you do any of our 10 ideas for rehearsal dinner that isn’t boring.
So pour a glass of Maverick Whiskey and open your mind because we’re going to give you a few ideas to ensure your rehearsal dinner doesn’t suck.
Open the Night up to Guests
Rehearsal dinners are usually reserved for the wedding party, but many couples (especially traveling guests) start the celebrations early with dessert or a cocktail hour before (and almost definitely after) the rehearsal dinner. So why not just allow the wedding party to bring some guests and/or invite a few your own? An extra night of festivities that includes everyone who doesn’t get to enjoy the dinner itself or the bachelor/bachelorette party seems like a win/win to us. Plus, you get to spend some extra time with relatives and friends that you haven’t seen in a while (and may be too busy to see on the big day) so while you’re wedding coordinator may disapprove, we say it’s your show so invite whoever you want.
Switch up the Dinner Venue
It’s often helpful to run through logistics at the venue where the wedding will be held, but you don’t have to limit your party to a dinner at the same place where you will be eating the next day. Find a place either close to the rehearsal venue (so it’s a quick walk to dinner) or, our favorite, find a place close to where your guests are staying (so it’s a quick walk to the hotel) and create some great memories. Or, go way out of Comfortville and take your wedding party to a bowling alley, arcade mini golf palace or if there is a big game on, a sports bar.
Leave the Planning to the Wedding Party
If you (as the bride or groom) are stressed out over the idea of having a rehearsal dinner, let your Maid of Honor, Best Man, or just an awesome friend surprise you with a party of their choosing. You don’t have to worry about a single detail, and you can hand the job to someone who isn’t burnt out to plan a party. Of course, be sure to choose wisely and preferably someone with either strong planning or delegation skills. And send them this article…
Find a Fun Outfit
Weddings typically don’t have a dress rehearsal dinner, but more traditional weddings still suggest a dress code. This gives the bride and groom to find an extra outfit to show off for their wedding party. Wear what you want to wear…it’s your night (before the big night!) Bring the wedding photographer to the rehearsal dinner so you can get an extra roll of pictures outside of your big white dress. A comfortable and hot outfit will boost your confidence before the big day!
Have a Themed Rehearsal Dinner
If you really want to spice things up, give the night a fun theme. Here are a few ideas that couples have used to make the night memorable:
- Western theme
- Blast from the past (70s, 80s, 90s, or a real throw back an our favorite, the Roaring 20s!)
- Wear what you used to wear at the time when you first met the bride or groom
- General costume party
- Hawaiian theme
You can even make custom rehearsal dinner shirts or outfits for the wedding party as an extra souvenir. Remember, it’s your rehearsal dinner, so do something that you will enjoy!
Put Your Party up to a Challenge
Have you ever heard of a murder mystery dinner? Wedding parties with a sense of humor or quirky taste in parties will certainly enjoy straying from the traditional rehearsal dinner for something a little more mysterious. Whether you create the plot of the dinner yourselves or hand it off to a creative Maid of Honor, a murder mystery dinner will certainly be an unforgettable way to kick off wedding celebrations. Whodunnit?
Another hot trend for bonding at parties or events is taking everyone to an escape room. There are tons of escape rooms around the country with different themes and challenges, but all require your group to work together to get out of the room in a certain amount of time. Pit the bridal party against the groomsmen, or bring everyone together to break the ice.
Tour a Distillery (or a Brewery)
Bottoms up! Take your wedding party on a tour of a local distillery, brewery, or winery to learn more about drinks that are made around the area. You can have dinner after the tour, and enjoy a tasting with your meal. Talk about win/win! If only we knew of a distillery that offered such services…
Cater Finger Food
While it will take some effort to get approval from the coordinator and/or the venue, treat yourself and your guests by catering classic bite sized finger food (PRO TIP – if you have a caterer already for the wedding you may be able to even get a discount if you plan this early enough). If you want to get competitive, challenge the wedding party to a cook-off that has them each bring their own favorite finger food, but just remember that you’ve got to fit into your wedding dress or suit so consume wisely.
Tap into a Higher Energy
If bringing some extra food or drinks into the mix stresses you out, get zen for your rehearsal dinner. Hire a yoga teacher to lead your party through a flow or a meditation to calm everyone down and “center themselves” around whatever the teacher is selling. Not wanting to risk sweating or tearing nice clothes? Bring in a fortune teller or a tarot card reader or magician who can entertain and, who knows, maybe give you advice or positive prediction for your lifetime of wedded bliss.
Two Words: Party Games
Admittedly, this one may be better suited for after the rehearsal (and possibly after the dinner), but have a casino night and play some rounds of poker or blackjack. Who knows, you may even be able to rake in a little extra cash for the honeymoon!!
If gambling isn’t an interest (or a legal option) then if your dinner is being held at a venue with outdoor space or lots of room for games, buy some cups, ping pong balls, frisbees, or Nerf guns and have at it! Kicking back with a few drinking games or croquet is a great way to unwind before the big day and give guests a chance to socialize or catch up.
If nothing else, grab a bottle of Maverick Whiskey to spice up your rehearsal dinner and kick off the best day of your life. Enjoy responsibly, and enjoy every moment!
Bonus Suggestion – Signature Cocktail
Before the event, find a signature cocktail online (or, even better, hire a mobile bartender) and have someone serve them to the guests as they arrive for the rehearsal. Naturally, you’ll need to ensure the rehearsal location is ok with this game plan, but if they are and you nail the signature cocktail, your guests are sure to talk about this night for years to come
Pro Planner Tips
All of these ideas/suggestions can go a long way in separating your rehearsal dinner from the pack, but here are two pro planner tips that you should keep in mind regardless of how creative you make the planning session.
Swag for Guests
It’s likely many of your rehearsal guests traveled a long way. It’s also likely they skipped out on some other event to be with you. It’s also likely they are close friends and family and you love them. Show them that love and appreciation by giving them something tangible they can take with them. While common to give gifts to your wedding party, it’s less common to give gifts to every who attends your dress rehearsal, so go the extra mile and budget the extra funds to hand out a gift bag or two.
Can you hear me now?
To ensure everyone can hear the toast the Maid of Honor has been working on since seventh grade and the roast the groom’s brother has down to perfection confirm your venue has AV equipment for your use. Another pro-tip is a photo slide show to showcase the bride and groom’s adorable moments. And let us be heard loud and clear, Maverick Whiskey has lots of screens and can drop the mic whenever needed.
Cheers to that!