The first big celebration of the wedding weekend is the rehearsal dinner, and today’s brides and grooms are fully involved in creating a culinary experience for their VIP guests, the perfect complement to the evening’s relaxed and festive mood. This dinner party is their welcome break from the hectic, last-minute planning tasks and all the stress that goes hand-in-hand with creating the most important day of their lives. The rehearsal dinner, then, is a treat for all, a chance to mingle and glow, sharing gifts and toasts and an unforgettable meal served in style.
The new rehearsal dinner has evolved into a foodie’s dream, with hosts putting as much effort and care into choosing a locale and building a menu as is often seen with the wedding plans. This event, then, is meant to impress.
Here are the top trends in rehearsal dinners for the coming year:
• Most frequently, the parents of the groom are the official hosts of the rehearsal dinner, even if both sets of parents have been fully involved in planning the wedding. (The parents of the bride get to plan the morning-after breakfast.)
Guest lists are smaller. It’s no longer a Must to invite all of the out-of-town guests to this elegant dinner party. Plan a separate, casual cocktail party for them at their hotel, and you’ll join them later. The rehearsal dinner is solely for immediate family, the bridal party and their guests, the officiant and his or her guest, and other ceremony participants.
• Couples choose a beautiful restaurant with fabulous design, perhaps outdoor dining, and other high-style ambiance as the setting for this dinner. Here at the Highlawn Pavilion, brides and grooms say they choose our establishment for the catering and the spectacular views of New York City from our position at the top of Eagle Rock Reservation. Indoor and outdoor ambiance creates a wonderful rehearsal dinner experience.
• The meal trend is now a sit-down dinner, at least three courses, with coffee and a fabulous dessert.
The rehearsal dinner menu items differ from the reception menu, giving the wedding couple the chance to offer those pricier entrees (lobster, filet mignon, etc.) that they perhaps couldn’t afford to serve as entrees to their 150+ guests at the wedding.
• The menu often includes cultural and traditional dishes that are important to the couple and their families.
• More couples request eco-friendly menu items and locally-grown foods.
• The champagne toast is back, and additional drinks are top-shelf and unlimited for this VIP crowd.
• The rehearsal dinner hosts give the first toast of the evening, with the bride and groom proposing a toast immediately afterward to thank the hosts and guests for sharing their day. Gifts are then given to parents and bridal party members.
Paul Keenan, Banquet Manager, Highlawn Pavilion