One Rehearsal, Five Ways

Once just simple sit-downs for the wedding party, rehearsal dinners now run the gamut in size, cost, and theme. But there’s one rule that hasn’t changed: "The evening should reflect the couples’ style—and that of their families, if they’re hosting," says Boston-based bridal consultant Alexis Eliopoulos O’Mara. Whether that means a fuss-free beachside clambake or an elegant black-tie affair, we’ve got you covered with five inspired ideas to kick-start your wedding planning.

THE DIY DINNER

The extra planning involved in this type of event can be a nightmare for busy couples with limited time, but dedicated do-it-yourselfers may delight in crafting every aspect of their rehearsal dinner. "You really have to be motivated and excited about all the details to be able to follow through with this kind of planning," explains O’Mara. If you are, though, a DIY dinner can allow you the opportunity to truly personalize the event—without the higher price tag that often accompanies typical rehearsal parties.

Who Should Do It

Couples who have flexible schedules, extra time to plan, or who want to keep costs down.

The Invitations
There are countless kits available for making your own invitations, and their design, paper quality, and accessories often belie their inexpensive, easy-to-assemble nature. Try one that lets you print your event information on the invites, like Do-It-Yourself Digital Invitations Kits from Paper Source ($70–$108 for 50, 617-536-3444, paper-source.com).

How to Pull it Off

Unless you’re a hardcore DIYer, consider consulting your wedding planner for advice on executing this type of rehearsal dinner. Scout site space at your parents’ or friends’ homes and confirm it well in advance; no matter how enthusiastic you are now, the prospect of hosting this dinner in your own home likely isn’t going to seem so great the day before the wedding. Hire a party rental company for everything from linens and tableware to a tent and chairs (617-517-0480, rentals-unlimited.net). And unless you have family or friends who are comfortable cooking for a crowd, arrange for a chef, such as Cambridge-based J. J. Gonson of Cuisine En Locale, to take over the kitchen (617-285-0167, enlocale.com).

 

THE CLAMBAKE

Who says your rehearsal dinner has to be serious? Instead, take a break before the formality of your wedding day by staging a casual clambake where you can relax and have fun with your bridal party and out-of-town guests. Keep the décor in line with the party’s unpretentious theme: Slip on your sandals, light some hurricane lanterns, and spread out colorful beach blankets. Serve steaming lobsters, fresh-shucked oysters, and ice-cold beer on folding tables topped with newspaper "tablecloths," metal buckets (for shells), utensils, and bibs.

Who Should Do It
Couples hosting downtown weddings might have a harder time incorporating this type of event, but it’s perfect for those getting married near the beach or who want a casual evening before a more elegant wedding reception, says O’Mara.

The Invitations
Send fun invites that reflect the party’s relaxed vibe, such as "Flip Flops" from Crane & Co. ($134 for 50, 617-247-2822, crane.com).

How to Pull it Off
Contact a one-stop shop such as Treats Catering and Flying Lobster Clambakes, which takes care of all the food, drinks, cooking, and (most importantly!) cleanup (508-385-1540, treatscatering.com). If your rehearsal dinner will be on the Cape or in another area where beach access is limited or restricted, check with the local town hall to find out which permits are necessary. The week before, stock up on beach blankets, candles, beach chairs for older guests, and sand-proof disposable cameras at Target (617-602-1921, target.com).

 

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