Rethinking Rehearsal Dinners
Eat, Drink, and Practice Getting Married
by Lisa Edd
Make it Personal | It’s all Fun and Games | Make Room for the Groom | Mother-In-Law 101 | Add Some Ethnic Flair | A Gourmet Gathering | Getting There In Style | Rehearsal Dinner Etiquette
Featured Southern California rehearsal dinner locations
Featured Central California rehearsal dinner locations
Featured Northern California rehearsal dinner locations
The rehearsal dinner can double as a way to bond with your fiancé’s parents and make them feel included. It’s also a great opportunity to focus their energy on something besides your wedding invitation list! As an added bonus, putting someone else in charge will take the pressure off you to make the event great. And even if your tastes aren’t exactly meshing, there are ways to strike a compromise. Event designer Alex Alexander of Alex Events recalls a couple who just couldn’t agree with the groom’s parents on a venue for their pre-wedding dinner. “The parents had dinner at a more formal restaurant with their friends, and the bride and groom dined at a more casual place with the wedding party. Then they all met up after the meal at a local bar and had cocktails to toast the occasion. Everyone was happy!”
If you can’t manage (or afford!) to honor both you and your groom’s family customs on the big day, here’s your chance to show how two worlds really can become one. Serve food from both backgrounds, or play traditional music from both cultures. Get everyone to join in by teaching a time-honored dance or song, invite a belly dancer or hire a Mehndi artist to decorate your guests. Of course, as Tosca Clark points out, parts of the USA can be like a whole other country: if your groom’s family hails from the South, for example, an outdoor barbecue complete with checkered tablecloths and line dancing can produce a grand ol’ time!
In your fantasy wedding reception, your guests enjoy a five-star, seven-course culinary extravaganza paired with pricey wines. But, alas, given your budget reality (not to mention your picky teenage cousins!), you’ve opted for a three-star, three-course repast for the main event instead. Hence the beauty of the rehearsal dinner: with its much smaller guest list, it offers the perfect opportunity to explore a more refined, more exciting menu. So go ahead and reserve the private dining room at that always-packed restaurant where you can never seem to get a table on a Friday night. “Your rehearsal dinner is the one wedding event where you can sit back and really enjoy your guests along with a superb meal,” says Alex Alexander.
Opportunities to release your inner foodie abound: If sushi’s your passion, serve a gorgeous array of Japanese delicacies accompanied by a glittering Hollywood cityscape at Yamashiro, or reserve the fantastical Fireplace Room at Cuistot in Palm Desert, and bask in the award-winning California French cuisine of Chef Bernard Dervieux.
Alex Alexander suggests that providing transportation from the rehearsal location or the hotel where many of your out-of-town guests are staying to the rehearsal dinner site is an effective way to start the party right. Not only does it get people instantly mingling, but, reminds Alex, “You and your guests don’t have to worry about anyone drinking and driving, and no one gets stuck in traffic or lost.” With a little foresight, you can match the transportation to the theme of your event, or honor someone special. Reserve some of your future hubby’s favorite muscle cars to chauffeur your guests around town, or escort them in style to your Art Deco venue in vintage cars from the 1920s and 30s. George Rose of Elegant Journey Limousine can give you some inspiration.