When it comes to the rehearsal dinner, many people assume it has to be a sit-down dinner the night before the wedding with just family and the wedding party. Well, we’re here to tell you that’s not your only option! Your rehearsal dinner is the last chance to get everyone together for a relaxing evening before the rush of the wedding day.
Take the opportunity to mix it up and make it yet another night to remember. Think outside the formal ballroom and explore other group-friendly settings to serve your favorite foods, talk to guests, and revel in the moment. If you’re ready to break tradition and host an unconventional rehearsal dinner, keep scrolling because we’re rounding up some of our favorite ideas to help get the party started before your wedding day.
1. Boat Cruise Rehearsal Dinner
Consider setting sail with your favorite people, enjoying dinner on the open water, and toasting your nearest and dearest as the sun sets over the horizon. This is a great way to get your guests into a truly relaxing space for the night. If you live near a large river, lake, or right on the ocean, chances are you will be able to find a boat cruise company that will allow you to rent a private vessel.
As with any rehearsal dinner, let your guests know the plan ahead of time so they can dress appropriately and bring along any personal essentials. Planning is essential for a boat cruise in case some guests need to plan ahead for potential motion sickness.
2. Restaurant Crawl Rehearsal Dinner Ideas
Why visit just one restaurant when you could visit a few? Restaurant hopping gives you lots of options to break it up by dinner course or simply order small bites at each place. Depending on the distance between each restaurant, you’ll want to let your guests know ahead of time so they can plan to wear comfortable walking shoes or you may need to order a car service to transport everyone. And, of course, be sure to make reservations beforehand so you can secure a table everywhere you go.
If you’re splitting it up by course, pick one spot for everyone to meet for drinks and appetizers to kick off your evening. Then move on to the second spot to enjoy the main dinner, distribute any wedding party or parent gifts, and call for any toasts. Once everyone has had their fill, end the night at a cozy café for dessert. Sharing a few of your favorite restaurants with your favorite people keeps the energy high all night long.
3. Picnic Rehearsal Dinner
Your rehearsal dinner doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive to be memorable, and a picnic is a perfect option for laid-back couples who want an equally laid-back celebration. Decide whether you want guests to sit on the ground–traditional picnic-style–or set up tables around the open space. Then put together a menu of simple finger foods, wine, lemonades, flavored teas, and mini desserts to display buffet style. Tie it all together with a few simple floral arrangements and you’re set.
Whether you host the picnic in your backyard or a city park, the relaxed feel and chance to take it easy with you in an informal setting will set the stage for the wedding.
4. Theme Party Rehearsal Dinner Ideas
If you wanted a theme for your wedding but couldn’t quite make it fit, make that dream come alive with a themed rehearsal dinner instead. We’ve seen couples base their themes on a particular region, food, style, hobby, or interest. Think outside of the box to create a memorable Mexican-inspired fiesta, crawfish boil, casino night, or even a wedding-themed murder mystery party.
This is your chance to go a little more whimsical and carefree than you would for your wedding. It also makes for a perfect icebreaker for guests who haven’t met everyone yet.
5. Pizza Night
Who doesn’t love pizza? Pizza night can take a variety of forms and gives everyone the opportunity to kick back and grab a slice. Whether you opt to make the evening very casual with a pizza buffet with informal seating areas or a more structured dinner party setup with personal pizzas for each guest, the options are endless. You can also take the opportunity to rent a pizza oven and let your loved ones build their own pizzas.
Regardless of the setup you choose, offering fun local cocktails and drinks will add a personal twist and introduce the group to things they may not be familiar with—even if they are local.
6. Brewery, Distillery, or Winery Tour
If you’re looking for a daytime post-rehearsal celebration, a tour of a local brewery, distillery, or winery is a great option. Depending on the size of your group you may be able to book a private tour. If having a private tour is important, make sure to find a place that can accommodate your group sans walk-ins. You also want to find out if children are allowed. If they’re not, communicate this with your guests to ensure they can plan ahead of time.
Many breweries, distilleries, and wineries offer food or have food trucks available on site. Call ahead to make sure to plan appropriately. If they don’t offer food, you might consider combining this with a picnic rehearsal dinner as we mentioned earlier.
7. Brunch Rehearsal Dinner
Brunch is a great option for just about any celebration. Nothing brings people together quite like a waffle bar, mimosas, and a tower of donuts. You can throw a brunch rehearsal meal right before or after the actual wedding rehearsal. Keep it sweet and simple with interactive food stations, bright decor, and upbeat background music. Be sure to specify clothing expectations on your invitations because brunch attire can often be casual or dressy.
8. Game Night
There’s nothing like a little friendly competition to raise everyone’s spirits and make all your guests feel connected. We absolutely love the game night rehearsal dinner idea with good food, good drinks, and board games. Up the ante by making it tournament style and giving small prizes to the night’s winners. To take it up a notch, consider catering your favorite local foods so nobody has to worry about cooking or clean-up.
If the group is big and you need to set up several gaming stations, pick games in different genres so everyone can find something they love. You and your fiancé should stay mindful to rotate to different tables throughout the night so you get a chance to play with everyone.
9. Backyard Barbecue Rehearsal Dinner
This is an oldie but a goodie for low-key couples, families on a budget, or anyone who just loves barbecue. All you’ll need are some picnic tables, centerpieces, simple place settings, and some lighting if the party will continue past sunset—think cafe lights strung through the trees or candles on every table. Decide whether you want your favorite BBQ joint to cater or have someone work the grill. Keep the menu simple and provide other activities, such as lawn games, to give your guests a reason to get up and mingle. And of course, what’s a backyard barbecue without a killer playlist?
Most wedding traditions are, well, traditional. But that doesn’t mean that they have to be boring. Stay true to the feelings that you and your fiance want to share for every wedding tradition. Keeping those thoughts and feelings in mind will ensure that you look back at those memories that created joy and laughter among your closest friends and family.
Now that you have the perfect rehearsal dinner plan, you need the perfect rehearsal dinner outfit. You’re in luck, we have a roundup of our favorite rehearsal dinner dresses and jumpsuits!