December 18, 2019
The beauty of rehearsal dinners is that they can mean different things to different people. Some people want to be an extension of their formal wedding, while others want it to take on more of a fun get-together vibe. The good news is you have a lot of leeway when it comes to rehearsal dinners. And if you get creative, this flexibility can help you save some serious money!
Traditionally, rehearsal dinners were formal sit-down affairs at a fancy restaurant or at a favorite local spot. But at the same time (traditionally speaking) the groom’s parents would pay for the rehearsal dinner. With more and more couples paying for their own weddings these days, rehearsal dinners have become much less formal and more personalized.
We have created a list of 6 affordable rehearsal dinner alternatives for you to consider.
Invite your group to your favorite bar for 2-3 hours after the ceremony rehearsal for a Happy Hour-Style Cocktail Party. This style of gathering should take place in the early evening so you’re guests aren’t expecting “dinner” food per-se (anywhere between 4-7 pm is an ideal timeframe). Serve heavy hors d’oeuvres and offer either a limited drink menu or include two drink tickets per person. This type of event should have a relaxed but chic feel. Try to find a bar where your party can have a private area for a more intimate/upscale vibe.
If you want to keep it upscale but still be frugal, look for a local winery or cheese and wine shop and set up an intimate wine tasting. Ask if they can offer some food or cheese pairings to go along (as you never want to serve your guests just alcohol). The same can be done with a local brewery that you might favor. Like the happy hour option, this style of gathering should take place in the early evening since you will only be serving light appetizers. It should be made clear that this is a pre-dinner event so no one will get the wrong idea.
A fun activity everyone can enjoy is a great alternative to a stuffy sit down rehearsal dinner! Look for a local bowling alley or arcade and rent the space, or just a few lanes. The food options or typically much cheaper than sit down restaurants and you can have an open bar or choose to give each guest 2 drink tickets/each.
Whether in a backyard or at a nearby park, you can keep the party close to home with a back yard affair. A potluck-style gathering is great option for laid-back couples. Ask your guests to bring whatever they’d like to share, or have a sign-up list to make sure you have a nice spread.
Or, for those couples who want to do a little less work, a catered backyard affair is the perfect choice. Look for catering companies that do cookouts, company parties, or the like. They can usually provide really affordable catering picnic-style catering .
Dress up the tables with balloons, flowers, and other festive touches. Bring in cornhole, horseshoes, croquet and a music speaker–and you’ve got yourself a party!
If you’ve got a fairly big back yard, another affordable rehearsal dinner alternative is to hire a food truck to come out to your location. Taco trucks are a really popular option. But with the popularity of food trucks these days, you could probably find your favorite cuisine in food truck from. Serve signature homemade margaritas or make it a BYOB and turn up the fun!
Another practical rehearsal dinner alternative if you have a small, intimate group of family and friends is a pizza party/craft night. Order pizza, and pop some beers while putting the finishing touches on some DIY wedding crafts! Whether it be the final touches on your pew markers or putting thank you tags on your wedding favors, a craft night will kill two birds with one stone. A word of caution: don’t leave a bunch of highly detailed projects for a last minute craft party. If it’s something you care a lot about (like your wedding flowers) this will not be a good option for a wedding-eve craft party project. Remember to keep it light and fun (this is not just free labor after all). And be flexible enough to understand that not everything will turn out perfect or even be completed.
There’s no reason your rehearsal dinner can’t be a totally unique and fun experience without breaking the bank. And it doesn’t have to match the wedding either. No use in throwing two of the same party back to back!