Entertaining with an Outdoor Rehearsal Dinner at Home

Many couples like the idea of an outdoor rehearsal dinner at home to bring in that cozy, “down-home” relaxing feel before the big day.

Sounds simple, right?!?!  Well, not necessarily!  It’s definitely doable if you pay attention to some pretty important details to ensure that your guests are most comfortable.

Whether you are hosting a rehearsal dinner in Chicago, a rehearsal dinner in Orlando, a rehearsal dinner in New York, or a rehearsal dinner in Los Angeles, rehearsal dinners at home can be so entertaining but remember that you have to provide many essential things to make it a success

Be sure you have the budget for renting many things that a restaurant already provides (tables, chairs, linens, napkins, glassware, plates, utensils, etc.).  Oh, and don’t forget to have your yard treated to keep away pesty mosquitos, knats and flys!


Depending on your guest count, you may or may not have the space so this is the 1st thing to consider before going full speed ahead with plans for a rehearsal dinner hosted at home.  You will need space for guests seating, buffet tables, catering tent if home kitchen not easily accessible, and parking for guests and catering trucks/vans.  If you don’t like the idea of guests trekking through your home to use restrooms, you’ll need to rent outdoor port-a-potties too.

And please, please don’t forget to have a RAIN PLAN! Most tent companies will let you have a tent on hold up to 72 hours before the event with a deposit.  No one needs that stress of mother nature “raining” or “ruining” your party, always better safe than sorry!


Many are using estate tables instead of rounds for seating of guests.  It’s a great way to entertain  particularly if you are serving your food “family style”…big plates of food that guests share and pass to one another.

DECOR:  Florals with Lanterns

Estate Tables also lend itself well for decorating with florals and can have quite a stunning look when centerpieces are lining the entire length of the table.

I like pairing florals with lanterns.  Here are photos showing how “breath-taking” this awesome duo can be lined down the center of estate tables:







Because it’s typically the first time the bride and groom see most of their close friends and family together, the rehearsal dinner can feel like a reunion. For a more formal dinner, or one with a larger guest list, it helps to have a seating chart so people aren’t at a loss about where to go when it’s time for the meal to be served.

Here’s a keepsake from Laura Hooper Calligraphy that pulls in the theme with the seating chart:

Furthermore, some members of the two families may be meeting for the first time, and relatives may not be acquainted with everyone in the wedding party. Encourage conversation by seating these people together (if you’re sure they’ll be comfortable), or simply make a point of introducing them personally sometime during the evening.

No assigned seating?  Not a problem!  Just let your guests know that by creating a cute sign like this one!

From Andrea-Loveis-Blogspot.com:



I have already professed my love of {lanterns} but had to add one more idea.  Why not hang them from tree branches for a touch of whimsy as well as romance.  Here is an example from a Charleston , SC  event company, www.Lukeevents.com, with photography by Kim Graham:






{Strings of lights} are also a great way to provide just enough lighting and so simple to hang.  When the sun has set, they really add to the ambience.



Also, if you want to add a great “pop” of color, paper lanterns are the way to go.

A favorite of ours is the rehearsal dinner that the mother of the bride hosted for her daughter and future son-in-law in her backyard.  Knowing that should it rain, space inside her home for the 70 guests could be a challenge, she rented a tent, adorned it with adorable paper lanterns in the colors of the evening, served homemade BBQ, and the best, surprised guests with a fun hot dog stand!

For more details, click here: http://accomplishedwoman.blogspot.com/2011/10/rehearsal-dinner


Be sure to check out Luna Bazaar for an assortment with every color imaginable as well as many shapes.  Pairing them with banners as this bride did under a tent looks fabulous! Photo from www.rockmywedding.co.uk


  • http://www.weddingish.com Weddingish

    LOVE the idea of a cozy rehearsal dinner at home. It’s amazing what some table linens, fresh florals and strings of lights can do…

  • admin

    Hi, sorry to be so late in responding, and glad you agree with us! That time of year for wedding events at home is almost here! Yeah!