Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tips for a Successful Rehearsal Dinner

Last October my son and his then fiancee' --now wife of one week!--chose this little gourmet cafe' in the heart of town as the place they wanted for their rehearsal dinner.   Tradition states that the groom's parents host the rehearsal dinner, so I was pretty much at the helm for planning this event. My husband's role was to KEEP CALM and PAY ON. While he is a planner in many areas of life, he defers to me when it comes to froo-froo or feed troughs. 

This rehearsal dinner was our second experience of its kind.  Having learned from the first,  this one went much better.  (Either way, I now have three daughters instead of one!)

Allow me to share  Tips for a Successful Rehearsal Dinner as well as a short list of What Not to Do. 

For success:

1.  Select your menu choices far in advance by taking a group to taste test.  Choose food that is not messy to eat, since your guests may be wearing nice clothes. 
2.  Talk on the phone--yes, talk--don't just text,  with the owner of the establishment. Touch base monthly with him or her to make sure your reservation is on their calendar. 
3.  Meet with the owner, chef, and head of wait staff if at all possible, together at a round table one week before your event to go over the menu, table arrangements, decor, and special items.  I watched the head waitress make a diagram of the table arrangement I wanted, complete with number of guests at each one.
4.  Make place cards. People need to know where to sit.  Be prepared for some to still want to rearrange your plan when they get there.

 Keep extra grace in your purse; you'll need it when people try to reason (on the spot) why just switching places with so-and-so is a better idea.
5.  Don't rely on people of a certain generation to RSVP.  
6. Save money on appetizers by preparing munchies and serving them at the rehearsal itself.  I provided a tray of cheese and crackers (gluten-free crackers, too), cut up pineapple, strawberries, and grapes. I also had almonds and cereal bars and a cooler full of bottled water (plus a Sharpie and a sign that said, "Please label your drink.")   People coming from work appreciated food and cold water. The kiddoes were satisfied. We didn't arrive to the restaurant starving.

7.  After dinner, but before dessert, open up the floor to have your guests say a few words about how they met the bride and/or groom, a special memory, or what they appreciate in the couple.  This was the most meaningful thing we shared as a group. In our case, people really spoke from their heart. It wasn't a bunch of roasting and toasting. A friend Steve had roomed with for a brief time concluded, "He showed me how to be a godly man, how to treat a woman, how to be mature, even though he was younger. I want to be like Steve when I grow up." 

As a mom, it doesn't get much better than to hear such heartfelt words about your own child. 

Anyhow, I promised a short list of ...

What Not to Do:

1.  Don't forget to pack the seating chart you spent two hours preparing. Just sayin'.   
2.  Don't be surprised when a table that's supposed to have 8 places set only has 6.  Apparently six is the new eight.
3.  Don't  get upset when the owner tells you 10 days ahead of time that he has to be out of town the night of your event.  He apologized profusely, knowing your previous experience in New Jersey . You know from having worked banquets yourself in the restaurant business that a 27:2 ratio of servers to patrons can be rough.  You pray for grace, and bite your tongue.

You admire the beauty of your offspring and their chosen mates. You wonder if your middle schooler will ever produce a real smile for the camera, and you look to the older ones for your answer.


Try not to have a meltdown afterwards about the five things that didn't go according to  your plan. 

People enjoyed themselves.
Photo: All the handsome guys!


Nerves are frayed, bodies are weary, hearts are full and ready to burst like a raincloud. Wallets have been stretched thin,  and the couple-- who have had just about all the wedding planning they can stand--have said a time or two they understand why some people just elope. You nod in agreement at the same time you want to stuff credit card receipts down their pretty little mouths. 

In the end, you will remember the laughter, the free-flowing conversation, the tears the moms shed

 (and the dads, too, I will not lie),

You'll remember

the love shared between friends and family,

and perhaps you'll receive a sweet little gift like I did from my precious new daughter.  It's a little silver pendant  necklace inscribed with the words "Thank you for raising the man of my dreams."


Susan Kane said...

What a great dinner! I loved your fuchsia dress and your happy smile.

Lea @ CiCis Corner said...

Yes, I could tolerate it all for a card that said that. Oh, my, what a treasure and what a lovely DIL she is going to be.

Happy 4th of July week!

Zoanna said...

It's a necklace that says that, because she wrote it in a card months ago and I loved it so much.

Shwetablog said...