There's no rule that says you have to plan a seated meal.
rebecca clay rehearsal dinner couple dancing
Credit: Kayla Barker

If the idea of a formal, sit-down rehearsal dinner just doesn't fit your wedding style, the good news is that there are a few festive alternatives to consider. These more causal affairs will still bring your nearest and dearest together to mix and mingle and share a few favorite stories-which is the whole point, anyway!

Family-Style Feast

There's no reason your rehearsal dinner can't be a family-style meal at, say, your favorite Italian restaurant, pizzeria, or barbecue joint. As long as the venue has the space and is amenable to working with you to host the gathering, go for it. Bring some tabletop décor touches to give the space a more personal feel.

Backyard Soirée

Alternatively, keep the party close to home with a catered backyard affair. Plan an intimate gathering with plenty of twinkling café lights to illuminate the space after the sun sets. Delegating responsibilities to help with this quasi-DIY event is essential, even with caterers lined up, as you'll have plenty on your plate in the days leading up to your wedding.

Beach or Park Party

A potluck-style gathering at a favorite picnic spot is a great option for laid-back couples. Dress up the tables with balloons, flowers, and other festive touches, and ask your guests to bring whatever they'd like to share, like a side or something for the grill. Just be sure to communicate clearly what you've got covered and if the event is BYOB (or not).

Cocktail Hour

Alternatively, consider forgoing the main meal entirely. An early evening gathering at a favorite restaurant or bar that's focused on light bites and beverages has a relaxed feel and can be just as chic as a formal dinner. Opt for passed hors d'oeuvres or a couple of appetizer stations and a limited drink menu, à la happy hour. And make sure there's a mic on hand for the toasts!


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