What would you do if you could have not one, but two wedding days? You don’t have to imagine it, actually — that’s what the rehearsal dinner is for. It’s the mini wedding before the big day. While weddings usually follow traditions (although they don’t have to!), rehearsal dinners can be much more open to interpretation. Yes, it is a rehearsal for your wedding, but it can also take on unique shapes and styles, appearing completely different than your actual wedding day. Design an unforgettable event with these wedding rehearsal dinner ideas.
1. Switch it up with casual catering
Guests might expect a plated meal or a buffet at your wedding, but you can keep it casual at the rehearsal dinner. Rally some of your favorite local food trucks for dinner, desserts, and even drinks, then have them roll up to your outdoor venue ready to serve guests. This could also give you a chance to offer a variety of cuisine options so that everyone is happy. You also can’t go wrong with a pizza party (yes, pizza and weddings can coexist). Order several kinds of pies from the best pizza joint in town and serve them in style with nice plates. Or, stick with a self-serve taco bar for a low-maintenance meal.
2. Ask guests to come in costumes
Save the formal wear for the big day. Let your inner geeks shine with a costumed wedding rehearsal dinner! This way, no one has to stress over finding two outfits, and they can have fun getting creative. Some costume theme ideas that everyone can get on board with include Disney characters, superheroes (of any universe), Cartoon Network shows, or Tim Burton movies.
3. Host a wedding rehearsal brunch
Who says a wedding rehearsal dinner has to actually be a dinner? Host a brunch party with Bloody Mary drinks and various flavors of mimosas (like orange, mango, pineapple, and grapefruit). For the food, serve light breakfast bites, including egg muffins, quiches, yogurt parfaits, mini muffins, scones, doughnut holes, bagels, croissants, or cronuts (the love child of a doughnut and croissant). You can also be a little extra (since it is your wedding rehearsal after all) and set up a mimosa wall (like a donut wall, but better). Among alternative wedding rehearsal ideas, this gives you plenty of time to rest before the actual wedding, so you can exchange vows while looking and feeling your best.
4. Host the rehearsal in a dreamy venue
Weddings are often compared to fairy tales, but wedding venues are usually pretty run of the mill. The common options are wineries, barns, churches, and civic centers, but with your rehearsal dinner, you can let your imagination run wild. Choose a nontraditional venue like a mansion, loft, townhouse, historic building, art gallery, cafe, museum, or rooftop. Peerspace can help you turn any location you can dream of into the site of your wedding rehearsal dinner.
5. Break out the karaoke
You might want more refined entertainment at your actual wedding, but as far as the rehearsal dinner goes, everyone can loosen up and have some fun. Host a karaoke competition or Jimmy Fallon-style lip sync battle. You can hire a DJ to host the activity, or do it yourself if you have access to a wide variety of music and a way to display song lyrics on a screen.
6. Pick a theme
It’s popular for weddings to have color schemes rather than themes, but if a part of you has always wanted a Disney wedding, you don’t have to compromise. With this wedding rehearsal dinner idea, you can pay homage to your favorite things. Costumes and the catering, venue, and decorations can all be incorporated into a theme. Just remember everything is on a smaller scale than your actual wedding. For inspiration, check out these unique wedding themes featuring all of the biggest movies in pop culture —and even some sports!
7. Skip the dinner
This wedding rehearsal dinner idea simplifies the whole event by taking out the dinner altogether. Just serve your guests plenty of appetizers and sweets, and save the big meal for the wedding. Lay out a table stacked with bite-sized desserts like cupcakes (make mini cupcakes or order perfectly portioned ones from Baked By Melissa), macarons, bundtinis, cake pops, cakesicles, cookies, and brownie bites. Display the treats on cake stands, trays, and elegant plates for an aesthetically pleasing dessert table. You can also decorate the table with banners and confetti that match your theme or color scheme.
For the appetizers, go with finger foods like puff pastry appetizers, meatballs on toothpicks, fruit and veggie trays, or other small bite options, such as bruschetta, cheese plates, tiny pizza slices, or kebabs. It can help to have some wait staff making rounds and serving everything on trays, but you can also set up several appetizer stations.
8. Make it a cocktail party
If you’re hosting an adults-only affair, consider making the rehearsal dinner a cocktail party. Serve appetizers and signature cocktails that you and your spouse-to-be have chosen (or created!) yourselves. If kids are invited, offer some fancy mocktail options so that they feel included. Set up a do-it-yourself cocktail station or a series of drink dispensers, or hire a bartender to serve everyone. Top off the cocktail party with live music. You can hire a band of any genre from GigSalad.
9. Let the games begin
Set up tables with board games and let everyone entertain themselves. This is a great way for guests to get to know each other before the wedding. If your venue has access to a projector or TV that hooks up to the internet, Quiplash is a hilarious online party game that allows you to show off your comedy chops. More traditional games like Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity, Headbandz, and charades are also great go-to options.
You don’t usually get to do your wedding twice, but with a wedding rehearsal dinner, you can double up on the festivities and fun. If you are having a hard time choosing between themes, catering options, or color schemes, you don’t have to compromise. Make all of your wedding dreams come true by using these wedding rehearsal dinner ideas.