With so much buzz around the wedding celebration, it’s easy for the rehearsal dinner to go under the radar during the planning process. But rather than sticking with the traditional sit-down dinner often expected by guests, today’s couples are learning how much fun and freedom they can have while planning their rehearsal dinner!
Since there are fewer expectations for rehearsal dinners, couples can enjoy the flexibility of hosting a casual event that complements their wedding theme — or goes completely against the grain. For instance, if you’re planning a luxurious black-tie wedding reception, a low-key backyard party may be just the contrast you need to wow your guests!
However, you envision your rehearsal dinner, here are four rehearsal dinner trends you’ll want to know in 2023.
Intentional Seating Assignments
“Family-style meals with open seating is on trend for rehearsal dinners,” explains Julianne Smith of The Garter Girl. “For a rehearsal dinner seating chart, couples are putting groups together at tables, but then letting guests decide where they will sit at the table. Also, they are putting groups together at a table who won’t be sitting together for the wedding the next day, so everyone has a chance to meet new people at their wedding.”
So while there is thought behind rehearsal dinner seating, a flexible arrangement allows guests to engage with one another organically before the wedding. Plus, it’s one less thing for you to plan down to the details!
Allseated makes it easy to design seating charts for all wedding-related events. Follow this link to get started!
More Personal Touches
We’re no stranger to baby pictures and engagement shots sprinkling the tables of every wedding-adjacent event, but couples are going above and beyond to make their rehearsal dinner a one-of-a-kind experience.
As Betsy Scott of Hudson Valley Weddings at The Hill shares, “Couples will be using their rehearsal dinners as a way to showcase their personalities, whether through themes and decor that reflect their interests or menus that emphasize their heritage and cultures.”
“They’ll also want to personalize their space with photo displays, from childhood pictures to the engagement photo session,” Scott adds. “And more couples will be getting a jump on best wishes by including a guest book.”
Whether it’s through décor, cuisine, music, or venue choice, think about how you and your partner can curate small-but-meaningful details that are undeniably you.
An Informal Approach
If you’ve been to a rehearsal dinner in the past, you may have been treated to an elaborate (albeit stuffy) dinner with a small intimate group. However, this type of pre-wedding celebration is getting replaced with a more upbeat, celebratory party to kick off the weekend.
“Couples are moving away from the traditional rehearsal dinner that is a formal seated event where only the immediate family and wedding party is invited,” Smith notes. “Instead, they want a night before the wedding where every guest is invited to a more relaxed setting where friends and family can catch up and connect before the big day.”
Jen Avey of Destination Weddings Travel Group confirms that the same goes for destination celebrations. “We’re seeing more destination wedding couples forego a traditional rehearsal dinner and instead, decide to invite their entire guest list to a special dinner before the big day,” she says. “This can act as a welcome party, but doesn’t necessarily need to be on the first night of your multi-day celebration.”
Gone are the days of “less is more” when it comes to your rehearsal dinner guest list. Whether you’re in favor of a sit-down dinner or you’d prefer a mixer-style party, there’s no better way to welcome your guests than by thanking them for attending!
A Focus on Entertainment
When you’re planning a rehearsal dinner, you likely think about the key elements like the venue’s setting, the food selections, and what specialty drinks make it onto the bar menu. But offering your guests more to do than simply eat and drink is one of the best ways to create a winning guest experience — even before the wedding itself!
“More couples will be including music at their rehearsal dinners, using live talent during the meet and greet portion of the dinner,” reveals Peter Mitsaelides of Brooklake Country Club and Events. “They’ll also be providing icebreaker entertainment, from wine or bourbon tastings to sketch artists, giving guests who may not know one another something to talk about. And a key wedding party member will take a more active role in the dinner, acting as MC to introduce those who are giving toasts.”
Avey notes that this trend is the perfect fit for destination celebrations, adding, “We’re seeing destination wedding couples book special entertainment to really wow their guests – think luau dancers in Hawaii, a steel drum band in Jamaica, or a tequila tasting in Mexico. This really sets the scene for guests to enjoy the local traditions of the destination they’ve traveled to.”
So, much like the wedding reception, the rehearsal dinner is becoming a fun opportunity to pull out all of the stops and start the celebration early! After all, do you really need another excuse to do it up big and party with your loved ones?
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.