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By: Cynthia Zatkin Blase

Although you might not consider your wedding to be a production, it is a very important event that needs to have a run-through to make sure everything comes together as planned.

The ceremony, rehearsal and the prenuptial dinner work with each other to prepare you and your attendants for the big day. Though some involved in your wedding might see the actual rehearsal as unnecessary, they’ll be rewarded and thanked for their effort with a wonderful dinner afterwards. Read on for a few ideas on how to make both events a fabulous opening act for your wedding show.
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Casting Call

Traditionally, the groom’s parents host the prenuptial dinner and it is attended by the bridal party, their spouses, and the immediate family of the bride and groom. In today’s world, it’s perfectly acceptable for anyone to host the dinner, but it still tends to usually follow tradition and is paid for by the groom and/or his parents.

Regarding who is invited, the decision is completely up to you. You want to make sure to always invite every attendant and their significant others, and some couples also choose to include any out-of-town guests and family members who might have arrived early for the wedding. This is a great way to acquaint your out-of-town guests with the locals, and it’s a nice gesture for those who have traveled from afar to join in celebrating your wedding.
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The Backdrop

Selecting the perfect setting for your prenuptial dinner can be as big a deal as choosing your reception site. While you will have a little more flexibility because of the smaller number of guests, you don’t want to wait until the last minute to decide on the location. The site should set the stage for the wedding production to follow, so make sure it’s special. Some of the obvious venues for the dinner are restaurants that have significance for you and your fiancé (such as the dinner where you first said “I love you”), locations that are unique to your city, or attractions where you can have the combination of dinner and entertainment (like a baseball or football stadium during a home game).

However, don’t forget to consider the banquet hall, restaurant, or private dining room of the venue where your wedding is being held. It will be convenient for your out-of-town guests and you might be able to negotiate a great rate if you hold all of your pre- and post-wedding events at the same property.

Afternoon or Evening Performance

According to tradition, the rehearsal and prenuptial dinner are usually held the evening before the wedding. The wedding participants gather at the ceremony site for a quick run-through of the next day’s event. Then, everyone heads off to a nice dinner to celebrate the following day’s festivities.

However, as with many wedding traditions, times continue to change and trends come and go. One new trend is turning away from the traditional Friday evening rehearsal and dinner and hosting the event on a different day at a different time. Attendants who live out-of-town, work issues and even weather concerns have many couples deciding to have their rehearsals and prenuptial dinners on the Thursday evening before their wedding. This usually works well for wedding parties where most of the attendants live in the area where the wedding is taking place. Everyone can attend the pre-wedding event on Thursday, and then have Friday night to relax and take care of any last minute details for Saturday’s big event.

Another option to consider if most of your attendants are from out-of-town is to host a brunch or luncheon rehearsal on the morning before the wedding. This is a thoughtful option for attendants who might need to travel a great distance and wouldn’t be able to arrive in time for a Friday evening event. If you decide to hold a day-of brunch or luncheon, be sure to allow yourself enough time to get ready for the ceremony. The idea of a rehearsal is to be prepared, not rushed.

There’s another benefit to having a Thursday night or Saturday morning rehearsal, you might be able to negotiate a better deal with the restaurant or caterer you choose. Since you won’t be competing with the Friday night dinner crowd and they’ll have a definite plate count for the day you choose, it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.
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Theme for a Night

Your prenuptial dinner can be as fun or as formal as you want it to be. One sure fire way to liven things up a bit is to focus on a theme. Go with what you are familiar with like a BBQ or picnic completely decked out with potato salad, barbequed ribs, baked beans and ice-cold beer. Or if you’re looking for something more festive, go for a Tuscan feast complete with Italian wedding soup, warm loaves of crusty bread, and large platters of freshly made pastas and sauces. Another option is a south-of-the-border fiesta with sizzling fajitas, frothy margaritas, and strolling mariachis. If these ideas are a little too mainstream for your taste, why not dig a pit in the backyard, hang some tiki lights and host a traditional Hawaiian luau for your guests. They’ll enjoy feasting on roast pig, fresh pineapple, and fruity frozen drinks as you all relax and let the warm breeze calm those last minute wedding jitters.

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