Planning the rehearsal dinner was a huge headache for us. I figured it would be a piece of cake compared to the complicated reception with twice as many people. Definitely not.
I don’t want to drag out the pain so here’s the short version:
Mr. Squirrel and I kept going back and forth between having a casual “welcome picnic” with all the guests or a fancier sit down dinner with only immediate family and wedding party. I was rooting for the welcome party for a long time. I loved the idea of seeing all the guests as much as possible. It was great in theory, but a logistical nightmare. We couldn’t find a venue (who knew parks were $500 to rent for the evening?) and without any family or close friends in town to help, a DIY dinner for 90 people was a scary thought.
Mr. Squirrel could see my frustration, so he jumped in and took the rehearsal dinner reigns. He started making calls to restaurants all over Tampa. Some of the responses were just laughable. One manager rambled on for twenty minutes about how “of course they could accommodate our party” and there would be signature food, drinks, basically anything our little hearts could desire…all for a $5000 minimum. Hah, no.
We capped our budget for the rehearsal dinner at $1500 and we quickly realized that, in order to have it at a restaurant, we had to limit our guest count to the 45 people that made up the bridal party and immediate family. I was bummed, but we came up with a little bit of a compromise (…wait for it).
Mr. Squirrel finally found a great restaurant called Pane Rustica. (Remember, I just spared you about four months of restaurant calling.) It has your traditional American smattering of options: steak, seafood, pasta, etc. They have an in-house bakery with some insane goodies for dessert. The decor is pretty swanky and we will have our own private room for our loud obnoxious families (a requirement for us!). You see, my family historically interprets “rehearsal dinner” to mean “roast.”
Image via Pane Rustica
We were both completely over planning the rehearsal dinner when we remembered we still had to actually invite our guests. We were feeling some serious invitation burnout after constructing books and I was SO CLOSE to getting the green light from Mr. S to just order an invite off of Etsy. The invites we liked only invited guests to the dinner, not to the rehearsal itself. I figured a quick message to the shop owner could fix this issue. Mr. S decided he would rather just do it himself…sigh. So, we agreed that he could design it if he only spent a short amount of time on it and promised not to get invested.
Thankfully he stuck with the plan and quickly designed our invite. Simple, classy and to the point. No fuss and ready to be sent out!
Yes, the dinner will be delish, but what I am most excited about is that we are still going to have a “Welcome Party” after dinner that all the wedding guests can come to! It will be at an outside bar right in front of the hotel where everyone is staying. The bar is located right on the Tampa Bay waterfront and has live music and a great vibe. We are keeping this very casual and just making a note of it in the welcome packet that will go in the out of town bags. We are not paying for drinks or food, but basically suggesting a central location for all the guests to meet up. Win win in my book!
Was it stressful to plan your rehearsal dinner? Did you feel like it was just becoming a second reception?
- Tampa, FL
- Genetic Counselor
- Wedding Date:
- May 2013
- Davis Island Garden Club