7 Creative Tips for Planning a Budget-Friendly Rehearsal Dinner

Fried Green Beans

To state the obvious: Weddings can be expensive. So who wants to spend exorbitant amounts on an additional event? So you may, as Robert and I, find yourself especially watchful of your wedding rehearsal dinner expenses. For us, we wanted a nice, very Southern experience for our rehearsal guests, but at the same time we didn’t want to spend large amounts that we would rather go to the wedding.

So I’m going to take you through the decisions we made to host a budget-friendly rehearsal dinner — you can determine whether any of these tips suit you.

  1. We only considered restaurants that allowed us to order from the regular menu. We weren’t interested in an event menu that would drive up the costs.
  2. Our selection of Puckett’s Restaurant & Grocery — a restaurant that specialized in such dishes as fried chicken, fried catfish and pulled pork, rather than more upscale menu choices — helped our cause. So don’t be afraid to go casual, especially if you’re hosting a formal dinner the next day. I think it’s nice to strike a different note for the rehearsal dinner.
  3. While we had planned on a dinner, we ended up hosting a luncheon. The lunch menu cost significantly less than the dinner menu and worked better with our schedule to boot. Since the majority of our rehearsal guests traveled to be with us, everyone was available for lunch. But it’s important to note, if you’re hosting on a Friday, as we did, and most of your guests are local, a Friday lunch may be harder for guests to attend.
  4. We preselected appetizers and served them family-style upon our guests’ arrival (fried platters of pickles, green tomatoes and green beans — all Southern specialties). And we requested smaller versions of one of their entree salads (at a lesser price) to serve as a starter item.
  5. We typed up a menu that listed our guests’ lunch options. This allowed us to pinpoint a few menu standouts and keep costs from escalating out of control by preventing our guests from ordering anything.
  6. On the menu, we listed soft drinks, tea, beer and wine as drink options. We purposely left off cocktails to rein in costs. I think one or two cocktails were still purchased, but oh well, that’s going to happen. If you want to rein in costs even more, you can ask the restaurant if you can bring in your own wine. Naturally, there’s always the option to not serve alcohol at all. Of note: People tend to drink less at lunch than at dinner.
  7. We had previously noticed that Puckett’s dessert portions were huge, so we requested that they serve whole pies cut into smaller-than-average slivers. We served two different pies, pecan and chocolate chess. That way, people could have a taste of each if they were hungry or stick with just one, and we weren’t paying a per-the-slice price that most people wouldn’t finish. If there were leftovers, we could bring them home.

So there are my tips. Feel free to add your own, and find a restaurant for your rehearsal dinner or luncheon here!

Photo courtesy Puckett’s Restaurant & Grocery

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