When it comes to the rehearsal dinner, many people assume it has to be a sit-down dinner the night before the wedding with just their family and wedding party. Well, we’re here to tell you that’s not the only option you have! Your rehearsal dinner is the last chance to get everyone together for a relaxing evening before the rush of the wedding day.

Take the opportunity to mix it up and make it yet another night to remember. Think outside the formal ballroom and explore other group-friendly settings to serve your favorite foods, talk to guests, and revel in the moment. As for the guest list, feel free to open it up to anyone you want—whether that’s just family and wedding party, or all of your out-of-town guests. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite unconventional rehearsal dinner ideas to help get the party started before your wedding day.

photo by Moving Mountains Photography


Boat Cruise Rehearsal Dinner

Consider setting sail with your favorite people, enjoying dinner on the open water, and toasting your nearest and dearest as the sun sets over the horizon. This is a great way to get your guests into a truly relaxing space for the night. If you live near a large river, lake, or right on the ocean, chances are you will be able to find a boat cruise company that will allow you to rent a private vessel. As with any rehearsal dinner, let your guests know the plan ahead of time so they can dress appropriately and bring along any personal essentials. Planning is essential for a boat cruise in case some guests need to plan ahead for potential motion sickness.

Restaurant Crawl Rehearsal Dinner Ideas

Why visit just one restaurant when you could visit a few? Have a plan and make reservations at each place to avoid wait times. Restaurant hopping gives you lots of options to break it up by dinner course or simply order small bites at each place. Depending on the distance between each restaurant, you’ll want to let your guests know ahead of time so they can plan to wear comfortable walking shoes or you may need to order a car service to transport everyone.

If you’re splitting it up by course, pick one spot for everyone to meet for drinks and appetizers to kick off your evening. Then move on to the second spot to enjoy the main dinner, distribute any wedding party or parent gifts, and call for any toasts. Once everyone has had their fill, end the night at a cozy café for dessert. Sharing a few of your favorite restaurants with your favorite people keeps the energy high all night long!

photo by Nordica Photography


Picnic Rehearsal Dinner

Your rehearsal dinner doesn’t need to be fancy to be memorable, and a picnic is a perfect option for laid-back couples who want an equally laid-back celebration. First, decide whether you want guests to sit on the ground, traditional picnic style, or set up tables around the open space. Then put together a menu of simple finger foods, lemonades, flavored teas, and mini desserts to display buffet style—or in picnic baskets. Tie it all together with a few simple floral arrangements and you’re set. Whether you host in your backyard or a city park, the relaxed feel and chance to take it easy with you in an informal setting will set the stage for the wedding.

Theme Party Rehearsal Dinner Ideas

If you wanted a theme for your wedding but couldn’t quite make it fit, make that dream come alive with a themed rehearsal dinner instead. We’ve seen couples base their themes on a particular region, food, style, hobby, or interest. Think outside of the box to create a memorable Mexican-inspired fiesta, a crawfish boil, a casino night, or even a wedding-themed murder mystery party. This is your chance to go a little more whimsical and carefree than you might for your wedding to offer your guests a totally unique experience. It also makes for a perfect icebreaker for guests who haven’t met or out-of-town guests who are meeting everyone for the first time.

photo by Kylie Morgan Photography


Pizza Night

We’re in favor of more pizza parties in general so, of course, this one made the cut. Pizza night can take a variety of forms and gives everyone the opportunity to kick back and grab a slice. Whether you opt to make the evening very casual with a pizza buffet (“did someone order 40 pizzas?”) with informal seating areas or a more structured dinner party style setup with personal pizzas for each guest, the world is your pizza oyster. You can also take the opportunity to rent a pizza oven and let your pals build their own pizzas.

Regardless of the setup you choose, offering fun local cocktails and drinks will add a personal twist and introduce the group to things they may not be familiar with—even if they are local! You can’t go wrong with a pizza party. Don’t be afraid to spice it up and make it your own.

Brewery, Distillery, or Winery Tour

If you’re looking for a day-time post-rehearsal celebration, a tour of a local brewery, distillery, or winery is a great option. Depending on the size of your group you may be able to book a private tour. If having a private tour is important, make sure to call around to find a place that can accommodate your group and won’t add walk-ins to your group upon arrival. Some of these locations don’t allow children, be sure to check with the venue and communicate this with your guests to ensure they can plan ahead of time.

Many breweries, distilleries, and wineries now offer food or have food trucks available on site. Call ahead to make sure to plan appropriately. If they don’t offer food, you might consider combining this with a picnic rehearsal dinner (like we covered above).

photo by Yellow Bird Visuals


Brunch but Make it Rehearsal Dinner

Brunch is a good option for just about any celebration. Nothing brings people together quite like a waffle bar, mimosas, and a tower of donuts! You can throw a brunch rehearsal meal right before or after the actual wedding rehearsal. Keep it simple and sweet with interactive food stations, bright decor, and upbeat background music. Be sure to specify clothing expectations on your invitations because brunch attire can often be casual or a bit dressy.

Take a peek at some of these brunch wedding ideas that you can easily incorporate into your rehearsal celebration.

Game Night

There’s nothing like a little friendly competition to raise everyone’s spirits and make all your guests feel connected. We absolutely love the game night rehearsal dinner idea with good food, good drinks, and board games. Up the ante by making it tournament style and giving small prizes to the nights’ winners! Consider catering favorite local foods so nobody has to worry about cooking or clean-up.

If the group is big and you need to set up several gaming stations, pick games in different genres so everyone can find something they love. You and your fiancé should stay mindful to rotate to different tables throughout the night so you get a chance to play with everyone.

photo by Noelle Johnson Photography


Backyard Barbecue Rehearsal Dinner

This is an oldie but a goodie for low-key couples, families on a budget, or anyone who loves barbecue. All you’ll need are some picnic tables, centerpieces, simple place settings, and some lighting if the party will continue passed sunset—think cafe lights strung through the trees or candles on every table. Decide whether you want your favorite BBQ joint to cater or have someone work the grill. Keep the menu simple and provide other activities, such as lawn games, to give your guests a reason to get up and mingle. What’s a backyard barbecue without a playlist? Don’t neglect this important piece, either!

Most wedding traditions are, well, traditional. But that doesn’t mean that they have to be stuffy and boring. Stay true to the feelings that you and your fiance want to share for every wedding tradition. Keeping those thoughts and feelings in mind will ensure that you look back at those memories that created joy and laughter among your closest friends and family.

Now that you have the perfect rehearsal dinner plan, you need the perfect rehearsal dinner outfit. You’re in luck, we have a roundup of our favorite little white dresses for your pre-wedding events!

photo by Jennifer Sees Studios

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