Oh my Lordy, you’re getting married! You’ve got the dress, the date, the guest list…and about 50 million other things to plan. You’ve read blog after blog, talked to all your already-hitched cousins and have a Pinterest board that may just break the internet if you’re not careful. It’s a lot to organize, and in hindsight, there’s always more planning that could have been done to make things run more smoothly.
One part of a wedding that often gets swept under the rug is THE REHEARSAL DINNER. It’s a seemingly small event compared the the actual wedding (which is why it’s often forgotten about), but a little extra planning can go a long way. If you’d like to learn a few basic things to consider when planning your rehearsal dinner, here’s a good article to get you started. And if you’ve already decided to host your rehearsal dinner in a restaurant, we’re here to help!
Blue Plate has been hosting wedding rehearsal dinners & other special events for nearly a decade, so here are a few things to consider when you decide to host your special day-before-the-big-day party at a restaurant.
Venue Limitations & Atmosphere
All restaurants are structured differently and have different atmospheres. For example, Blue Plate has 3 separate interior areas: a larger family dining room, a cozier dining room & our cocktail bar area. These areas all accommodate varying numbers of guests and have distinct ambiances, as well as provide privacy for your party (in the case that you do not reserve the entire restaurant).
We also have 3 unique patio areas, which are great for parties during Colorado’s mild summer months. Our garden area sits under a canopy of crab apple trees and is great for a rehearsal luncheon, or you could reserve our larger patio area for dinner with our beautiful twinkle lighting & cozy outdoor heaters.
Like we said, every restaurant is different, so make sure you explore the options for seating & atmosphere with your host.
Take a look at your guest list. It probably includes your Great Aunt Margaret and your fiance’s Cousin Earl, as well as your good friends from both high school & college who have heard of each other, but haven’t actually met. It can be a bit awkward to find yourself sitting next to strangers & listening to speeches without a chance for small talk. This is where a meet & greet cocktail hour can come in handy.
At Blue Plate, we suggest setting aside an hour before mealtime to meet in our bar area & chat with your guests. This allows you to greet your visitors & thank them for coming without having to go awkwardly from table to table during the meal. It is also easier for your guests to make small talk when they can meander through the crowd (possibly with a cocktail in hand) instead of sitting stationary in a forced seat.
Every restaurant’s cocktail scenario may differ, but at Blue Plate, we try to be as flexible as possible. We offer everything, from a fully open bar to a “starter drink ticket” to a specific wine/beer/cocktail menu. You can also opt to have your guests pay for their own drinks. Additionally, you may want to consider providing passed appetizers for your guests during this time. We have a large selection of delicious, easy-to-eat snacks to choose from.
The Meal: Menu Items & Dietary Restrictions
You already realize how difficult it is to decide on the menu for a large group of people (you’ve thought about it for your reception!). Well, the rehearsal dinner is basically the same thing with slightly fewer people. Along with the simple fact that your guests have varying taste buds, there are food allergies & dietary restrictions to consider.
We suggest you think about your guest list and budget to help you decide on your menu items & how much variety you would like to offer. When you book a rehearsal dinner at Blue Plate, we provide 5 preset three-course menus with not only different dishes for you to choose from (to set the menu) but also different outlines that may allow your guests to make dinner choices (for example, a choice of soup or salad, or steak or fish, etc). Our pricing (per person) depends on the menu items & number of options you choose.
Our preset menus are tried-and-true suggestions for pleasing large groups. They consist of tasty but simple flavors with options that appeal to nearly everyone’s taste buds, but we are as accommodating as possible if you wish to request a specific dish. We also always provide vegan or allergy-free options at no extra charge for those with dietary restrictions. (However, we DO suggest you find out if you’ll need these dishes beforehand, so that we can be as prepared for your party as possible. READ ON for suggestions on how to find out about restrictions & make the dinner a smoother and more enjoyable process.).
Invitations with an RSVP & Pre-Order of Dinner
Here is one of our most helpful tips for running a smooth rehearsal dinner: RSVP’s with Dinner Orders. Firstly, this allows you to get a head count for dinner, which means that you won’t end up paying for someone’s dinner who could not come. It also helps us to create the most comfortable and intimate seating arrangement for your party as possible.
Secondly, asking for guests’ choices for dinner beforehand will: a) make you aware of any dietary restrictions or allergies that will need to be accommodated, and b) ensure that we have prepared enough of a specific dish, if one option were more popular than another. We try to do our best to please your guests and host an amazing party, but these are easy ways to ensure there are not any mishaps.
Remember our suggestion of a breaking-the-ice cocktail hour? Another way to avoid embarrassing situations for your newly friendly guests is to provide name tags. Not only does this help with forgettable names & faces (I mean, sometimes your guests are meeting 20+ new people within 15 minutes!), but we suggest taking the organization of dinner a step further by marking the name tags with your guests’ dinner orders.
Hear me out. You sent out the RSVP’s months ago, right? And now poor Aunt Margie can’t remember if she ordered the steak or the chicken. You can cut out this confusion by marking the tags with a little “S” or “C” in the corner. Firstly, this will cut down the ordering time in which our servers are at your tables and give you more time to move through the events of the night such as gift giving & toasts. It can also serve as a conversation starter: “Oh, you decided on steak, too?” #redmeat4lyfe
Well, we hope you found our TOP 5 TIPS for a SMOOTH RESTAURANT REHEARSAL DINNER to be useful (and enjoyable)! We could go on and on about planning (we didn’t even touch on decorations & extra special features) so keep an eye out for blog posts to come 🙂
And if you’re interested in hosting your wedding rehearsal dinner with Blue Plate, you can find out more info here!