Showers & Parties

Ideas for Hosting a Budget Rehearsal Dinner

You don't have to spend a fortune to create a festive rehearsal dinner

The night before the big day you need to focus on some pretty big F-words: friends, family and food. Did we mention fun? You can't help but have a blast flipping through these foolproof ideas for great pre-wedding festivities.

Memorable menus

Feature your favorite family recipes. Find a chef who can create your favorite home-cooked meal, while you mingle with your friends and family. You can also introduce out-of-town guests to the local cuisine.

History lessons

Invite your guests to a spot that holds special significance for you and your sweetie. Set up a slide show or home video of your dating history and relive it with all your friends and relatives at the Greek restaurant where you had your first date or the park where he proposed.

Caribbean cookout

All you have to do is offer jerk chicken, rice and peas, Red Stripe beer, and reggae to make your rehearsal dinner a Jamaican paradise. After dinner, settle into some lawn chairs and sip from colorful glasses of island rum while you share all the stories that might be a little too hot for the reception party.

Fast-food chic

If the chicest members of society have been caught scarfing down White Castle and KFC at their soirees, who's to say that burgers aren't the perfect thing for your dinner? Dress up in formal attire, bite into a ballpark hot dog and revel in the incongruity. Then have dessert at an ice-cream parlor—but they may not take reservations.

Laid-back enjoyment

Invite your friends and family to a picnic in a park. Have a clambake on the beach or a cookout with kebabs. Pull up the picnic benches, unfold the red-and-white checked tablecloths and don't forget the Jell-O. Keeping your rehearsal dinner low-key is also smart, because it won't upstage the main celebration.

Open-mic night

Your guests may want the opportunity to toast the couple, so open up the floor to anyone who wants to say a few words on the happy occasion. Pull out a karaoke machine for full audience interaction. If you fear embarrassing anecdotes, declare that anyone who wants to make a toast must first sing a song. While your guests may find out about your previous bad taste in men, at least you'll first have the satisfaction of witnessing your brother croon "Greatest Love of All" in front of all your friends and family.

Finger-licking good

Hands-on entrees can provide great conversation and entertainment. Support your local crab house: Tie on your bib, crack open that crustacean—and don't be dismayed if things get messy. Consider other finger foods, such as Ethiopian dishes, where your only utensils are pieces of spongy flatbread.

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