A rehearsal dinner is a fantastic way to celebrate your upcoming nuptials while getting everyone in the wedding party on the same page before the “we”.
There are a variety of things you’ll need to consider when planning your rehearsal dinner, such as the guest list, menu, décor, and budget.
To help you make an informed decision down the road, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about planning a rehearsal dinner on a budget.
Keep reading for our top tips and tricks!
What Does It Mean to Plan A Rehearsal Dinner on Budget?
When we say “rehearsal dinner on a budget,” we simply mean being mindful of how much you’re spending on this event without skimping on quality or compromising your vision.
In other words, it’s possible to have an incredible rehearsal dinner without breaking the bank!
How Do You Make a Rehearsal Dinner Cheap?
There are a few key ways to save money on your rehearsal dinner without sacrificing quality or fun. Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Keep the guest list small and intimate.
2. Choose a casual setting or venue that doesn’t require much in terms of décor or extras.
3. Serve simple yet delicious food and drinks.
4. Get creative with your table settings and centerpieces.
What Kind of Food do You Serve at a Rehearsal Dinner?
When it comes to the food you serve at your rehearsal dinner, it’s all about simplicity. You don’t need to go overboard with an extensive (and expensive) menu.
Instead, introduce things your guests will enjoy. For example, you could start with a seasonal salad or soup, followed by a hearty main course, and finish things with a light dessert.
Still if unsure what to serve, we recommend asking the venue or catering company for their suggestions. They’ll be able to help you choose dishes that fit your budget and taste buds!
Planning A Rehearsal Dinner on A Budget
1. Guest List
The guest list is indeed one of the most important aspects of planning a rehearsal dinner on a budget. You will definitely want to keep the list as small as possible so that you don’t have to spend too much money on food and drinks.
This doesn’t mean you have to exclude everyone except for the immediate wedding party, but you can be selective about who you invite and keep the numbers down to a manageable level.
As a general rule of thumb, we recommend only inviting people closely involved in the wedding or who live close by. This way, you won’t have to worry about accommodating out-of-town guests.
The venue you choose for your rehearsal dinner plays a vital role when planning a rehearsal dinner on a budget.
For example, if all is set on having dinner at a fancy restaurant, you can expect to spend quite a bit more than you would if the event is at your house or a local park.
That being said, there are plenty of ways to save money on your rehearsal dinner venue without sacrificing quality or atmosphere.
1. Have dinner at your or someone’s home. This is a great option for a tight budget and you want to keep the guest list small.
2. Host it at a local park. This is an excellent option for summertime rehearsal dinners! Just be sure to pack enough bug spray and sunscreen.
3. Book a local restaurant. Try to find one that offers discounts for large groups or has an affordable menu.
4. Opt for a local catering hall to have dinner at a more upscale venue without spending anything extra.
5. Try a local country club to achieve a more elegant setting.
The menu you choose for your rehearsal dinner is very important for your budget. Ask about group discounts or set menu options if the event is decided to be at a restaurant.
For an event organized at a different type of venue, you can save money by keeping the menu simple. For example, you could serve various finger foods or a buffet-style meal.
1. Serve a variety of finger foods. This is an excellent option for an affordable and easy-to-prepare menu. You can try out some finger foods such as:
- Vegetable or fruit kabobs – Try out carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, grapes, and strawberries. You can even add some like ranch or yogurt-based dip.
- Cheese and crackers – This is a classic finger food that will never go out of style. You can use any crackers, you can go for whole wheat or multi-grain crackers for a healthier option.
- Mini quiches – You can use a variety of fillings for your mini quiches, such as broccoli and cheddar, ham and swiss, or spinach and feta.
- Sushi rolls – You can fill your sushi rolls with various ingredients such as cucumber, avocado, salmon, tuna, and crab.
- Chicken satay skewers – These are always a hit, you can marinate your chicken with a variety of sauces such as peanut sauce, teriyaki sauce, and sweet and sour sauce.
2. Serve a buffet-style meal if you want to serve a variety of food without feeling tight on a budget. You can try out some buffet-style meals such as:
- Build-your-own tacos: let your guests customize their tacos with various toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, and salsa
- Build-your-own pizzas: Please your guests by letting them be creative with pizzas and interesting toppings such as pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, and olives
- Sliders and fries: Have your guests choose between beef, chicken, or veggie sliders and top them off with their favorite condiments.
3. Serve a simple yet delicious meal for a menu that’s less pricy. You can try out some simple yet delicious meals such as:
- Roasted chicken – how about serving this classic dish with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables?
- Mashed potatoes – you can opt for mashed sweet potatoes, regular mashed potatoes, or both!
- Steamed vegetables – feel free to mix and match your favorite veggies. Some popular options include broccoli, carrots, and green beans.
4. Serve a more unique menu to add some excitement to your rehearsal dinner. You can try out some more unique menu items such as
- Build your own sundae bar – guests can let their creative side show with this one!
- A make-your-own trail mix station can get your guests’ competitive side going as they try to make the best trail mix combination, such as pretzels, chips, nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate candies.
- Ice cream float bar – this is a great way to incorporate a childhood favorite into your rehearsal dinner menu! Try out different flavor combinations and let your guests choose their favorite.
- Food truck – Including some local food trucks with some exciting and unique menu items such as gourmet burgers. It can be a fun way to do things!
- Backyard BBQ – Go for a more casual vibe with a backyard BBQ! Guests will love chowing down on classic BBQ favorites such as hamburgers, hot dogs, and chips.
- Family potluck – You can include a sign-up sheet on your invitations for this one. Ask your guests to each bring their favorite dish to share. This is a great way to get everyone involved and can also help with your budget!
The decorations you choose for your rehearsal dinner can also be a major part of deciding your budget. Don’t worry too much about decorations if the chosen venue is a restaurant.
In case you decide to host the event at a personal space, you can save money by keeping the decorations simple.
For example, you could use some inexpensive and easily-accessible items as mentioned below.
1. Use streamers and balloons to decorate the space for an affordable and easy-to-set-up decoration scheme.
2. Use tablecloths and flowers to decorate the tables to add a touch of elegance to your rehearsal dinner.
3. Use candles to decorate the space for a more romantic setting.
4. Use fairy lights to decorate the space to add some warmth to your rehearsal dinner without breaking the bank.
5. Keep the decorations simple if you want things cozy and simple.
The activities you choose for your rehearsal dinner can have a major influence on your budget.
Consider some of the following options:
1. Have a movie night: You can rent movies, pop popcorn, and have a marathon of your favorite TV show. This is an excellent option for a fun-filled activity.
2. Play some games: You can either choose some pre-made games or make up your own. Bring out some game ideas to get everyone interacting.
3. Have a themed party: A themed party will do much better and is a unique way to celebrate. You can choose any theme you want, but some popular options include:
- A beach party
- A pool party
- An ’80s party
4. Have a dance party with a hired DJ or make your playlist: Don’t skip this as this can be a fun way to get everyone moving.
5. Take some pictures to capture some night memories: You can either set up a photo booth or have someone designated to take pictures throughout the night.
For more unique gift ideas, consider some of the following options:
1. Customized mugs
2. Personalized keychains
3. Monogrammed tote bags
4. Engraved cutting boards
5. Embroidered handkerchiefs
6. Customized coasters
8. Monogrammed glasses
9. Engraved wine stoppers
10. Customized koozies
7. Thank You Notes
The thank you notes you send out after your rehearsal dinner can also affect your budget. For unique thank-you notes, consider some of the following options:
1. Send an e-mail: It is a quick and easy way to send out your thank you notes, emails are ideal.
2. Send a postcard: It can be affordable and you can use pictures to make it a personalized way to send out your thank you notes, go for postcards.
3. Send a handwritten letter: For anyone up for a more personal way to send out your thank you notes, try sending a handwritten letter which also makes it unique.
4. Send a thank you card: A card would be more suitable as an elegant way to send out your thank you notes.
5. DIY your thank you cards: This is an excellent option for a fun and unique way to send out your thank you notes.
Planning a rehearsal dinner on a budget doesn’t have to be complicated. Following the tips and ideas above, you can easily plan a beautiful and memorable rehearsal dinner without hassle.