Rehearsal Dinner Ideas: One Bride's Rooftop BBQ Bash

Real Weddings
Carolyn Hsu rehearsal dinner invite

Photo: Courtesy of Carolyn Hsu

What do real brides have to say about the wedding planning experience? Well, it's not all happy tears at the bridal boutique and indulgent cake tastings. Guest blogger Carolyn Hsu, founder of The Hsu Closet, is sharing the ins and outs of planning a New York City wedding, picking the perfect venue, crafting a day-of beauty look and finding inspiration in the strangest of places.

My wedding, you could say, leaned a bit on the unconventional side. Instead of a more traditional venue, I opted to get married in a townhouse in the middle of Manhattan. I chose not to have a wedding party, served champagne during the ceremony, and walked down the aisle in a dress that was off-the-rack resort wear.

Unconventional it may be, but it was one really fun party—and it started the night before.

Rather than have a sit-down rehearsal dinner, which we felt wouldn't allow guests to relax and mingle as much as we'd like, my husband and I decided to have a rooftop barbeque at a private residence. Our friend generously allowed us to use his gorgeous duplex and rooftop (thanks Vlad!) and we invited our entire wedding guest list over for a sunset cookout. Though the get-together was casual, the clear view of the Empire State Building elevated the ambiance to a gorgeous city affair. Guests feasted on barbeque and lots of beer, wine, and champagne. At the end of the evening, we served two cakes from Black Hound, a maple "Carolyn" cake and a chocolate "Derek" cake. I had originally bought a whole box of sparklers for the wedding only to find out they would set off the venue's fire alarm—so we passed them out at the rehearsal party instead for a spontaneous mini fireworks display under the stars.

Rehearsal dinner cake Carolyn Hsu

Photo: Courtesy of Carolyn Hsu

What I loved about this approach to a rehearsal dinner was that it was fun, relaxing, required less planning, and was so much cheaper to put on! But more than that, it allowed all our wedding guests to meet each other or catch up, and enjoy a pleasant evening out without having to worry about any kind of schedule or formalities. It also gave my husband and me the opportunity to talk to and thank everyone for celebrating with us—something we were really glad we had the opportunity to do on the eve of our wedding, because the next day would turn out to be something else. Stay tuned for the big wedding day reveal in my next post!

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