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the big night before the big day

Posted by Alison Matera on Feb 16, 2018 3:37:18 PM

These days’ weddings have become more about a big three-day event rather than a single day of joyous celebration. The happy duo has so much on their plate and many details to work out, not only do they have the wedding day itself; they also have a rehearsal dinner and sometimes a “day after” brunch. After months and months of planning, the rehearsal dinner can be a time for the couple to relax and enjoy the company of family and close friends. This dinner is usually more of an intimate affair than your wedding reception; it is a chance for you catch up with old friends and give due thanks to the people involved with the preparations for your special day. It is also a great opportunity for those of your guests that have not formally met to get to know each other.

The rehearsal dinner can be as lavish or as casual as you wish. If money is no object, perhaps seek out the finest restaurant in town for an elegant five-course meal. If available, always ask for a private dining room, busy restaurants can be very noisy and your guests may end up confined to conversing only with the few people seated beside them. To encourage newly budding relationships and conversation among the new family, you might consider open seating rather than assigned tables, a buffet or family-style dining. Be careful with big, extravagant rehearsal dinners, you don’t want to upstage the next day’s events. If you wish for a more casual setting there are many options for a fun, festive dinner within a budget. You could use your home for the rehearsal dinner or if your home may not accommodate the amount of guests you have invited perhaps a friend could lend their home for an evening. You can have the event catered by a professional catering company or by a local restaurant that you enjoy. Catering the event in your home is also a good idea if some of the invited out of town guests are also staying at your home, no need to drive back to the hotel after a few glasses of wine.

A simple theme geared towards the likes of the couple is always fun. If the couple enjoys the beach, go with a beachy theme with lots of beautiful shells and of course fresh mai tai or daiquiris. You could also host a backyard BBQ or a seafood bake.  If it were my rehearsal dinner I would enjoy having stations set up around the house with different themes at each station serving appetizers and drinks from a certain country. For example, one station would be Italian with lots of fresh proscuitto, parmesan, pasta and Prosecco sparkling wine. Another station would be German with bratwurst, kraut, crisp German beer and fruit-driven Riesling. Another would be Mexican with lots of nachos, tacos and cold Mexican beer, like Corona. Another would be American with hot dogs, vegetables and dips, lemonade and domestic beer and wine; I could go on and on. All of these items can be attained at reasonable prices and of course served on disposable/ recyclable plates and cups.  

If you would like to serve wine at your rehearsal dinner, choosing the wine can be stress-free and fun. If you opt for a restaurant dinner, ask if they offer a corkage fee and consider bringing your own wine. This will save you money and give you the opportunity to sample the wine before it is served. Visit your local wine shop, find a manager or knowledgeable employee and discuss the type of foods that may be served at the dinner. Choose wines in your price range, purchase one bottle of each to take home and try at your leisure. When you have chosen the wine best suited for you and your guests, return to the wine shop and purchase what you need. Talk to the employee about a bulk discount if you are purchasing several bottles. Champagne or Sparkling wine is always a wonderful option; it pairs well with most foods and is a celebratory beverage for sure. If you would like to splurge a bit try J. Lassalle Premier Cru Brut $45.99. If you are on a budget Botter Prosecco $15.99 is delicious and affordable. The wine you choose will depend partly on the food being served, but as always with large numbers of people try and keep the wine “palate friendly” for all. Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio are typical crowd pleasers, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir, Mc Manis Vineyards makes all of these variatals and they are great for the money…$10.49 a bottle. With a smaller number of people you can offer more variety and experiment with different varietals.

If you fancy a rehearsal dinner at your home or friends home, follow the same steps of procedure with the wine store and for extra fun consider hiring a profession wine expert to do a private wine tasting/pairing for your guests.