It is that time of year—love is in the air, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and people are getting engaged to start their lives together. Wedding planning will soon be in full swing as Save the Dates get sent out. Weddings always get the glamorous reputation, but what about rehearsal dinners?
Rehearsal dinners are an important part of any bride and groom’s celebration of marriage. It serves as an opportunity for the couple to show appreciation to everyone who has helped with planning the wedding, as well as give their close family and friends a chance to get to know one another. That being said, the location of the rehearsal dinner is a crucial decision. In a city like Chicago where there are so many incredible venue options, there are endless possibilities. So, here are some important things to consider to help choose the perfect rehearsal dinner venue.
First, Determine Your Budget
Before you can start venue-shopping, you have to first determine your budget. It lays the groundwork for the rest of the planning that’s to come— the guest count, the food, and ultimately, the venue choice. Here is where the fun starts!
One important step in this process is deciding who is taking care of the bill. Traditionally, the groom’s parents are the one taking care of the rehearsal dinner, but now many couples also take different approaches. Either way, budget planning is a great way to kick off rehearsal dinner planning, and show gratitude for the people around you who support you in the process. (For reference, the cost of the rehearsal dinner is usually one twentieth of the wedding itself).
Since the budget is such a crucial part of the Rehearsal Dinner Process, it is important to make decisions on the budget early. This way, there will be plenty of time to plan the rest of the dinner. Venues can fill up fast, so it is better to stay ahead of the game.
Second, Decide On The Guest List
Next, the rehearsal dinner starts to take shape.
The beauty of a rehearsal dinner is that is can be whatever the bride and groom want it to be, and this sentiment certainly applies to the guest list. According to wedding experts, the only people who must make it on the guest list are immediate family and the bridal party. Traditionally, the guest list is comprised of close family and everyone who is in the wedding, plus their dates. But each rehearsal dinner is different, and at the end of the day, the guest list can be composed of whoever you want. Whether you choose 12 people or 80 to be at the rehearsal dinner, there will be a venue to accommodate it.
Third, Choose The Ambiance
Before any decisions can be made about a venue, the bride and groom need to have an idea of what kind of ambiance they want for their rehearsal dinner.
For example, an outdoor terrace verses a modern chef’s table, verses a contemporary restaurant can make a world of difference when it comes to creating the atmosphere that you want. Some venues are completely private, while others are only semi private, which also impacts a venue’s look and feel. Regardless, picking a theme will provide guidance and narrow down venue options for the rehearsal dinner.
Some people even pick out specific themes for the rehearsal dinner. At the end of the day, the options are endless.
Next, Take A Look At The Menus
Okay, this is the fun part. Because honestly, who doesn’t love to look at food and taste test the options? (The answer is no one).
Make sure to allow ample time to go through and experience each venue’s menu offerings—no one likes to make a rushed decision, and you will probably feel more satisfied knowing you took your time and evaluated all the options. Working with catering managers, chefs, and sommeliers is also a great idea—they are experts in their fields, and they can help guide you in the direction you want to go. Generally, Contemporary American food is a crowd pleaser and pre-fix menus are a common option, but hey, the world is your oyster.
Finding a venue with a diverse menu is always a good way to go—guest may have various dietary restrictions, so having a menu that will accommodate all of your guests will make the rehearsal dinner experience the best it can be. But at the end of the day, choose a menu that you feel reflects your relationship and your family.
Finally, Make A Decision On The Venue
After a budget is made, the guest list is composed, the atmosphere is chosen, and food is taste tested, it is finally time to choose a venue. With all of these variables considered, chances are, there is already a frontrunner in the bride and groom’s mind. Whether you choose a reception hall, a beautiful boutique hotel, a contemporary modern restaurant, or a cozy chef’s table, your rehearsal dinner will be one to remember.
Go with your gut, and everything will be beautiful.
Ultimately, weddings are a celebration of love, happiness, and two lives coming together, and the rehearsal dinner signifies the beginning of the festivities. The rehearsal dinner serves to give the bride and the groom the chance to celebrate the arrival of their wedding date, to spend time with their close family and friends, and to express appreciation to the people they value. As long as those things are kept in mind, the rehearsal dinner will be perfect.