Casual Rehearsal Dinners

Posted by on Dec 14, 2012 in Practical Planning, Recent Work | 3 Comments

We are re-designing our blog and website, which basically means I am kind of reliving EVERY wedding of the last year as I go through the hundreds (thousands?) of amazing images our photographers have captured over the last year.  We probably planned more “weekends” this year than just “weddings”.  Whenever you have a destination wedding or a lot of out of town guests, the rehearsal dinner takes on a much more important tone setting role: it’s the emotional, but festive, prelude to the next day.  Of course, it’s also another whole event and depending on how your budget shakes out, while it shouldn’t be a throw away (as I have said time and again, if you’re going to bother doing it, do it well) it also ISN’T the wedding itself.  It can be a tricky balance.

I’m a large proponent of the casual rehearsal dinner (especially if your next day’s celebration is NOT casual).  I think it needn’t be a toss of- it can be cute and festive and thoughtful- but it needn’t become a 2nd pressure cooker of an event that takes focus off of the “main event”… SO, speaking of Main events, the rehearsal dinner from our Maine Event is a good example of that.  We had A LOT of goals to meet for the celebration weekend we planned in Maine this past summer at the Seeds of Peace camp.  We served 6 meals to nearly 200 people, housed about 150 of them at the camp itself and, of course, had the ceremony and reception as well.  Prioritizing resources was a necessity and so for the rehearsal dinner the idea was what can we come up with that is casual, but also thoughtful.

The result was a BBQ/Clam Bake held in the camp mess hall- an homage to the Groom’s Texas roots and nod, of course, to our host state, Maine.  The food was straightforward and served family style and the decor was simple, but creative, and has a lot of easily replicable ideas I thought I’d share.  These beautiful images were all shot by the amazing Angelica Glass.

Seeds of Peace Camp shot by Angelica Glass
The Seeds of Peace Camp… those clouds WOULD bring rain….

The Mess Hall
The Mess Hall (or impromptu cocktail setting once the rain came)

Escort cards/lobster crackers/ Angelica Glass/ Designed by AaB Creates
Lobster crackers (Maine) wrapped in Western Handkerchiefs (Texas BBQ) served as the Escort cards (which, pre-rain had been cutely tacked to an outdoor bulletin board… into the best plans a little rain must fall). The Handkerchiefs became lobster bibs.

Table Numbers shot by Angelica Glass/ designed by AaB Creates
It was a casual party and we RAN with it. All inspiration was from Local Maine Lobster shacks- forks, knives and bibs were kept in buckets and shared family style. This wedding was a family affair and the Father of the Bride was our biggest artistic ally- he painted signs, built chuppahs and more. We decided to double purpose the pails for lobster shell pails AND as table numbers.

Menu Stamps shot by Angelica Glass/ Designed by AaB Creates
Lobster is MESSY! We wrapped the tables in Butcher Paper and as fun/ eco friendly detail, in lieu of menu cards, we created oversize menu stamps which we pressed onto each guests’ place setting.

6 Word Memoir shot by Angelica Glass/ design by AaB Creates
Did I mention again that eating lobster is MESSY! Paper towel rolls on table top are de rigeur in Maine, and so they were at this RD. The Bride, was very into 6 word memoirs (I’m now obsessed as well) and we had asked guests to include one on the back of their RSVP cards. The Bride correctly thought they would be great conversation starters and so we attached the “best of” to the top of the paper towel rolls. It was a sweet, thoughtful, fun addition.

Lobster Bake Post Mortem shot by Angelica Glass
I’m convinced only Angelica can make the postmortem of a Lobster Bake look pretty. In case you didn’t get the message- Lobster is Messy! But, it’s also a ton of fun.
So, the moral of the story is: Casual Rehearsal dinners can still have delightful details. Embrace the low key nature of what you have planned and your guests will thrill in all your tiny touches!


  1. Anna (
    December 14, 2012

    What an original idea for a rehearsal dinner! Very sweet, and well-organized given the rain! Beautiful work, and very clever.

  2. Alicia
    December 18, 2012

    Love the camp wedding location and lobster. yummmm

  3. Shelly
    December 20, 2012

    The paper towels for lobster are essential!


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