7 Tips to Plan a Rehearsal Dinner for Under $350
I hope you'll won't mind all the wedding talk on All the Delights, but now that I've had a wedding I feel that I am a newly minted expert, just like Jessica Simpson after she married Nick Lachey and wrote a book about achieving your dream wedding. Thanks to Jess, I'm rather confident in my ability to offer few real-life tips from my own experience.
Matty comes from the loveliest Australian family who spent time, energy, and plenty of money to come and be with us for our wedding in Austin. It was their first time in Texas and I had every hope that they'd fall in love with it even if it lacked a deep blue sea. Clearly, it is a very huge bummer to me that I'm wild about my husband's family but they live half-way around the world. I hear not everyone has the benefit of liking their in-laws so if anyone wants to swap places with me and send your less desirable ones far away so that I can have mine close-by then please leave a comment to begin negotiations.
Knowing how difficult jet-lag can be, Matty and I wanted scrape the traditional idea of letting the groom's family handle the rehearsal dinner and sought to piece it together ourselves. We had a budget of $350, a dream, and a will to make it happen.
When the day came, it went off with only a tiny glitch (may I suggest calling your caterer in the morning to make sure your they have the date right), and we came in just under budget. Here are a few tips to make it work for you:
Nix the Rehearsal Dinner.
Make it a rehearsal lunch instead. The benefits: you have the night off to get some rest before the big day, it frees up the afternoon and evening for your wedding party to enjoy your city or meet-up with other guests, and it will absolutely save you some money.
Use a Free Space.
Ask family members with welcoming homes, friends with access to community clubs, local parks, fellowship halls, etc. We booked an Airbnb for Matty's family and were completely taken with the deck and enormous tree in the backyard. As quickly as my mind wondered to Braverman's backyard dinners, the string of patio light bulbs went off in my head: it was the perfect setting for our rehearsal lunch.
Choose Food that's Low Cost and High Impact.
The nice thing about having a wedding where most of your guests are out-of-towners is that you get to show off your city's best qualities. For Austin, that's tacos. We placed an order for slow-cooked meat, tortillas, and toppings from our favorite taco joint then picked up chips, guacamole, salad, and homemade cookies to round out the menu. Let me tell you something: people WANT this food. Fancy sit-down dinners are impressive and perhaps more traditional, but you give someone tacos, pizza, or burgers? It's unexpected, it's fun, and it has the option of being personal to your wedding location.
Only Invite the Must-Haves.
Our guest list: parents, siblings, grandparents, wedding party, and their dates. If you invite all your out-of-town guests or long-lost relatives you are awesome but you are also not going to come in under $350. This is why a lunch was great for us - we had the option later in the day to connect with all those folks who we loved dearly but couldn't afford to feed tacos.
Ask For Help.
Let me introduce you to my aunt, Sherrice:
You need a Sherrice to make this happen. She told my mother that she wanted to help with the wedding and we graciously accepted. Her tasks were to her pick up the food, set it out buffet style, and put on the table cloths.
When we arrived at the house I was blown away. Sherrice and my cousin, Sarah, had set every place at the tables, brought in flowers and candy dishes for decoration, wrapped ribbons around the chairs and the trees, set out platters of homemade cookies that she and my Mimi baked, and thoroughly exceeded all expectations to create the most magical (Braverman-esque) setting I could have imagined. Never underestimate the power of a loving aunt.
Don't Buy New Clothes.
You must think I'm breaking some cardinal rule, here, but I mean it! Search your closet, find something that is meaningful to you: wear that. Matty and I decided to wear the same things we wore at the engagement party his family hosted for us in Australia and it made the day that much more significant.
Finally,Remember What Matters.
This: the people you've chosen to surround yourself by at your wedding. Being with them. Enjoying their company. Crying happy tears for memories and what's to come. Laughing over a meal.
Everything else is icing on the cake.
Our wedding photographer is also one of Matty's close friends, and he happened to have his camera on him during the rehearsal and lunch. Here's the whole set, thanks to the wonderful and talented Alfonso Sjogreen.