13 Ways to Plan a Summer-Inspired Rehearsal Dinner Menu
Your rehearsal dinner is a way to showcase the style, design, and overall formality of your big celebration to come. In short, it's your guests' first impression of the wedding weekend! Why wouldn't you want it to be just as special and memorable as the rest of your events? One way to do just that is to serve a seasonal dinner menu that highlights the best aspects of summer, like fresh, crisp veggies, vibrant fruits, and flavorful herbs. To help you design the most creative, delicious meal around, we asked some of the wedding industry's top vendors to share their best advice for creating a summer-inspired rehearsal dinner menu.
What kind of dishes should you serve at this pre-wedding bash? Well, it's really up to you, but the pros offered some unique ideas that are as delicious as they are beautiful. One wedding planner cites fresh melon and prosciutto as the ultimate passed appetizer. Colorful, flavorful, and so refreshing, you can't go wrong with this classic combination. Another popular menu addition? Mini baked potatoes! The pro who suggested them notes that, although potatoes are widely available all year long, they're technically in-season during the spring and summer. Serve the beloved dish in bite-sized form for something that's comforting and tasty, but still light enough for a warm-weather event.
If you're not necessarily looking for menu suggestions, you're still in luck. Our experts also offered their best ideas for adding a little seasonal flair to your menu, no matter what you're serving. From choosing colorful veggies and highlighting regional classics to topping your favorite dishes with playful details like edible flowers, these tips will help you bring any meal into the season. Don't worry, they didn't forget cocktails! As you choose your signature drinks for the evening, take their advice: One pro loves a spiked milkshake as a playful option, while the other suggests shake up a cool sip made from freshly squeezed juices.
Ready for more rehearsal dinner menu inspiration? Click through here for tons of expert advice.
Serve a Delicious Showstopper
"I love to kick off a weekend wedding with a dinner made to impress. Our 'Golden Egg' amuse bouche is the perfect start to a fun and impressive dinner. Our version includes smoked custard, a vichyssoise sphere, truffle, and whipped crème fraiche." —Carla Ruben, Owner and Creative Director, Creative Edge Parties
Focus on Fresh Ingredients
"Locally sourced and fresh are the words trending for wedding menus this season. Couples are giving their chefs more freedom to use local ingredients and choose the freshest options rather than insisting on specific dishes for their menu." —Morgan Childs, Founder & Creative Director, Moana Events
Be Strategic with Your Starters
"Combine fresh melon and prosciutto to make a flavorful and refreshing hors d'oeuvres. Cantaloupes have high water content and tons of vitamin C, which is essential for getting the party started. Plus, it serves as a perfect addition to a whole variety of hors d'oeuvres." —Claudia Hoste, Owner, Hoste Events
Embellish Favored Cocktails
"Whether your rehearsal dinner is outdoors, on a beach, in an event venue, or your home, having a seasonal cocktail awaiting your guests is always a good idea. In the summer months, fresh fruit juices paired with a tequila or vodka, a hint of sweet, and garnished with a fresh flower or herb is a winning recipe." —Bill Coyne, Director of Business Development, Cloud Catering & Events
Utilize Seasonal Produce
"With the long, heavy winter behind us, it's time to take advantage of the bright and vibrant seasonal vegetables! What better way to welcome the season than letting the ingredients shine on their own? Asparagus, english peas, and artichokes are all wonderful vegetables that bring the perfect pop of color to any dish. Paired with Solage's homemade honey-lavender vinaigrette, and you are sure to forget winter was ever here at all." —Kristen Seaholm, Wedding Sales Manager, Solage Resort
Highlight Regional Staples
"We suggest having a bit of fun with the rehearsal dinner menu. We love to feature Northwest-inspired dishes (our homebase), whether it's a wild salmon or a bite that represents some of Seattle's most iconic ingredients. For nibbles, some of our favorites are oysters, salmon, clams, mussels, pears, and rhubarb. It's nice to have something refreshing from a farm table, such as Asian carrot slaw, a deconstructed flowerpot salad, our famous Street corn salad, or Bluebird grains farro salad." —Lisa Dupar, Owner and Chief Creative Officer, Lisa Dupar Catering
Source Local Ingredients
"Create and display charcuterie boards with items such as local cheeses, meats, and nuts for your guests to enjoy." —Miki & Sonja, Owners and Photographers, Miki & Sonja Photography
Go Bright and Bold
"Creating seasonal dishes means taking advantage of peak harvest time to ensure ultimate flavor and vibrancy. Concept meals with colors in mind. In this dish, we incorporated a vibrant green gazpacho sauce to the meagre to make the colors come alive. Remember, people eat with their eyes first." —Sarah Banasiak, Chief Creative Officer, Limelight Catering
Elevate Traditional Favorites
"While potatoes are generally available year-round, they're technically considered in season in the spring and summer months! We love this modern twist on a baked potato, made miniature!" —Amy Nichols, Lead Planner & Founder, Amy Nichols Special Events
Emphasize Playful Details
"Take any dish to the next level by adding an edible flower, like nasturtium. The pop of color will photograph beautifully, and it'll add the perfect finishing touch of the season to your menu." —Brianna Sumey, Director of Sales, Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Curate a Light, Balanced Menu
"Our summer menus tend to provide our guests with a balance of refreshment, hydration, and a lighter cooking touch. We find appetites are less hearty in the summer due to the heat, so we recommend lighter bites centered around melons, cucumbers, and tomatoes to keep guests hydrated while continuing to indulge and enjoy in their dining experience." —Halle Heyman, Director of Events, Haven's Kitchen
Play with Service Styles
"One way to get creative and beat the heat is to change up the style of service. Family-style is a great hot weather alternative. This type of service can mean many things. One version of family-style allows us as caterers to plate the entrées fresh right in front of the guests. It also gets the chef involved, which is always a fun touch." —Rachel Krieger, Sales Manager, Blue Plate Catering
Put a Twist on Classic Desserts
"Ice cream can melt quickly in the summer sun, but a milkshake is a mess-free way for guests to enjoy this cool treat. Spike with some bourbon for a fun late-night surprise." —Laurie Arons, Founder, Laurie Arons Special Events