Maybe you're the Mother of the Groom (or the host, anyway) and you will be hosting the rehearsal dinner. It doesn't have to (and frankly, shouldn't) be a miniature of the wedding reception. It will pale in comparison if you try to duplicate all the elements of color, theme and style of the actual planned reception.
It's a separate and different event that should have it's own theme and/or feel. Since the guests will also be at the wedding, coming up with a different or unique idea will allow them to attend two related events but not feel like one is a smaller version of the other.
Since Rehearsal Dinners are part of most wedding celebrations, let's look a bit deeper into themes/styles you could use and some tips for planning that will save some headaches.
Choosing a Theme for a Rehearsal Dinner
Rehearsal dinners are usually for the main players in the wedding party, family and close friends. They are smaller than the wedding but the guests are usually very close to the bride and groom. It's an intimate celebration of the pending nuptials and a time for thanks you's, sometimes reflection and looking toward the future. Making it fun and less stressful for the bride and groom should be at the top of the list for any host.
You can accomplish this by making it personal -- use a theme or idea that depicts something about the bride and groom. The theme could be:
- Something they love like crafting, racing, sports, books/reading, gaming, etc...
- A Style they love like retro, vintage, modern, cottage, coastal, etc...
- Places they have been, will go on their honeymoon or dream of going to one day like Paris, London, Ireland, Egypt, Hollywood, the Caribbean, Hawaii, etc...
- Their Occupations -- Celebrate their professions with your theme
- Families -- a wedding combines two families. Celebrate this with elements from the two families.
Obviously, you can go a ton of different directions but choosing a theme will make the event fun and memorable for the couple and the guests. Even combining some of the ideas above would be fun. Let's take a look at some in-depth ideas for some of the themes listed above so you can get the idea.
Combo - Occupations/Hobby - Let's say the bride and groom are a teacher, writer, or librarian or just loves books and reading. Make it a school or literary theme. You could use some of these ideas for school/literary themed centerpieces, find an invitation with a book or school theme, and choose colors that will go along with the theme. (You do not have to use the wedding colors. They will be prevalent in almost everything all weekend, choose your own color scheme.)
Places or Travel -- This one can be loads of fun. You can mix it up and have each table reflect different places around the world that the couple has been or want to go to or you can stick to just one place like where they got engaged or will be going on honeymoon. Use items that represent that country or city in your travel centerpieces, find invitations that are themed for travel or the city or country you choose.
If the couple are big time travelers or want to travel a lot, you can build a theme around modes of transportation (buses, airplanes, trains, cars, ships) and different destinations they have or want to visit. Travel posters or postcards would be great decor items for this type of a theme.
Families -- This theme can be so different, unique and fun at the same time. Get wedding photos from both sides of the family and from close friends. Frame one as part of the centerpiece for each table. Then borrow a candle holder, candelabra, cake plate, a couple of pieces of silver, anything (a family piece of serveware, a collectible, the cake topper, costume jewelry or hat/veil from the couple in the wedding photo. Just something that represents them and make your centerpiece from this.
This is also a great opportunity to celebrate marriage wisdom from the family. Frame a piece of marriage advice from Uncle Ned or Grandma Rose and use it as part of the centerpiece. If both families collect silver or Depression glass or Jewel Tea Dishes, use these for the centerpieces. Make it personal and it will be memorable for the bride and groom.
A Couple of Rehearsal Dinner Planning Tips
The rehearsal dinner, as stated above, is separate from the wedding. If it is hosted by anyone other than the bride and groom, they need to take on the responsibility. Don't bug the bride and groom with details or questions. Their plate is full with welcome packages/events, ceremony details, reception details, honeymoon details and so much more already.
Let the Rehearsal Dinner be an event where they only have to show up and enjoy -- not be active in the planning and production. Some brides have a problem letting go of the reins. However, a Rehearsal Dinner is in the couple's honor, not hosted by them (usually). Tell the bride to chill and just enjoy a fun event. She will most likely need to pick out an outfit and bring attendant and parent gifts along for the evening. Beyond a suggestion of color or theme for her to choose an outfit, she should just relax and bask in being one of the honorees - VIP's for the night.