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Rehearsal Dinner Ideas

5 Great Rehearsal Dinner Ideas

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The rehearsal dinner is more than a fun night out after the wedding rehearsal. It’s an opportunity for all of the disparate social circles involved in the wedding party to meet and get to know each other for the first time, as well as an opportunity for everyone involved in the wedding to relax and blow off some steam. Rehearsal dinners have traditionally been a simple sit-down dinner. But you don’t need to be beholden to tradition on this one–as long as there’s some food and a relaxing atmosphere, your rehearsal dinner can be whatever you make of it. Here are some ideas:

A Backyard Barbeque

If you (or your parents or in-laws) have a nice big backyard, you can’t beat a backyard barbeque for creating a good, relaxing getting-to-know-you atmosphere. Stock up on lawn chairs, paper plates, summer beer, and watermelon. You can do the traditional hot dogs and hamburgers, or go for broke with racks of ribs. Either way, you can end the evening with a bonfire for marshmallow roasting and fireside chatting.

Family-Style Restaurant

Who says the rehearsal dinner has to be at the fanciest restaurant in town? We’d rather chow down at a family-style place where you can all share dishes together. Italian and Chinese restaurants are good go-tos for family-style dining. Or, if you’re in a bigger metropolitan area, you might have a good Indian place as well. Either way, a family atmosphere is good for breaking the ice between folks who haven’t met, and breaking bread with old friends.

Activity-Based

Sometimes the rehearsal dinner isn’t about the meal itself–instead, you can focus on a fun group activity and make the food secondary. If you have enough attendees, you can do a pick-up softball game in a local park before having a picnic dinner. Or go for a night out bowling with a bar-food dinner. You could also get everyone in touch with their inner child with mini-golf or arcade night out. Activities are great for getting everyone talking and enjoying each other’s’ company.

Rehearsal Brunch

For that matter, who said the rehearsal dinner has to be a dinner? Schedule your wedding rehearsal earlier in the day and end it with a dynamite brunch. Think pancakes, waffles, Bloody Mary bar, mimosas, and the whole nine yards. Your wedding party will appreciate having their evening free, and everyone gets to bond over breakfast food (which is, as Ron Swanson observed, the best food).

Formal Dinner

The traditional formula is to have a casual rehearsal dinner and a more formal wedding dinner. But that assumes your wedding is formal–if you have a more casual wedding planned, you can have a little fun with a formal rehearsal dinner. Since there are fewer attendees than at your wedding, you can go a little more upscale on the choice of restaurant. Let your guests feel a little fancy and pampered–they’ve earned it!

Whether you go for a casual backyard barbeque or a formal sit-down dinner, your rehearsal dinner is a time for your wedding party to get to know each other and unwind before the big day. As long as there’s good food and good conversation, you can count it a success.

Engraved Wood Wedding Invitation

Six Creative Wedding Invitations

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Wedding invitations can take a bite out of your budget, but they’re essential for letting guests know all the particulars of your big day. Even though they’re mostly utilitarian, with a little creativity and effort, they can be a work of art as well. A creative wedding invitation can show your couple’s personality, introduce your wedding theme, or just make an impression your guests won’t forget. Here are six invitations that really pop.

Storybook Invitation

If you’re planning on having a fairy-tale wedding, introduce the theme with a storybook invitation. Think about the style of beautiful old books: those oversized, illustrated first letters, bookplate fonts, page numbers. Don’t forget the “Once upon a time” tale of how you met. You can continue the theme into your wedding program, too–style it like a table of contents to the book of your relationship.

Wedding Wheel

If you’re looking for a non-traditional way to organize your wedding information, wedding wheels are a neat idea. Basically you print the details around a circular piece of paper, then overlay it with another piece that has a window cut into it. When the guests line up the arrow on the top piece to, say, the word “When,” the date and time of the wedding appear in the window. It’s a great way to present the information, and saves on paper, too–instead of a booklet full of inserts, all the details are on one page.

Handkerchief Invitation

Here’s a fun and functional idea–print the wedding map, time and date on a handkerchief you can fold and put in an envelope. Your guests will get all the information they need, and will be encouraged to bring it along to the ceremony for those sniffle-worthy wedding moments.

Cootie Catcher

Some kids called these folded-paper games “cootie catchers” and some called them “fortune tellers.” Either way, they make an adorable choice for a wedding invitation. There are templates online you can fill out, print, and fold to make an invitation your guests can play with all though the ceremony.

Engraved Wood

They don’t come cheap, but these engraved wood invitations are sure to make an impression on your guests. Make sure to keep one to frame and hang in the house; they’re definitely miniature works of art. Perfect for a rustic or country wedding.

Chocolate Bar

Here’s an option that looks great, is delicious, and is something you can do at home. Just start with any chocolate bar that’s wrapped in foil with a paper wrapping on top. Carefully peel off the paper, measure it, and make a template in a word processor to design a new wrapper. You can put pictures of the happy couple on the outside, then all the wedding details on the inside.

Wedding invitations are a necessary expense for wedding planning, but they don’t have to be boring just because they serve a purpose. Have some fun with the design and create something that really expresses who you and your partner are as a couple. If you get creative with the design and materials, you’ll make something your guests aren’t likely to lose and forget before the big day.

5 Crazy Places to Tie the Knot

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Roller Coaster WeddingSure, a church wedding can be absolutely gorgeous. A beach wedding is fantastic. Even a trip to the justice of the peace has its appeal. But don’t you think all of those traditional options are just a little bit…dull? A little too safe? If the idea of having absolutely no risk of death or injury on your wedding day just doesn’t excite you, perhaps one of these extremely crazy ideas will fit the bill. After all, I’m sure you can hold a great reception in the Emergency Room.

Skydiving

If you and your significant other are really into adrenaline, Las Vegas Extreme Skydiving has the dream wedding for you. In fact, there are three ways to tie the knot: you can get married on the ground and go skydiving afterward; you can skydive first and get married at the drop zone; or for the most adventurous, say your vows as you get up to altitude in the plane, and take the leap into your new life together as the preacher pronounces you husband and wife. Though there is the risk that after you’ve gone through free-fall together, no other experience will quite measure up.

Underwater

If you want to make sure there won’t be a dry eye in the house–or a dry anything, really–break out the SCUBA gear and go for an underwater wedding. Plenty of resorts across the world offer the ability to do the whole ceremony underwater, complete with a soggy minister. You can get married near a reef, near a sunken ship, or in shark-infested waters for an extra kick. Granted, you’ll have to write your “I Do’s” on a slate–there’s no talking in the fathoms below–but it’s definitely a way to have a memorable ceremony.

On a Roller Coaster

For a safer adrenaline rush, trade in the music of a string quartet for the click-clack of cars on a track. Instead of a reading from Scripture or a bit of poetry, how about excited screams? A roller coaster wedding gives you the opportunity to have an outdoor wedding that’s truly unforgettable. They’ll even take your wedding photo at the bottom of one of the drops! It’ll really prepare you for the ups and downs of marriage.

Near an Active Volcano

If the thought of a beach wedding seems too tame for you, take a trip to Hawaii’s National Parks and get married next to a live volcano. A mere $150 will get you a permit to hold a wedding in the park. You’ll need to keep the wedding party small, and you’ll have to do a lot of clean-up afterward, but how many people can say they said their vows next to a genuine natural wonder?

In the Sky

If you’d like a sky wedding, but skydiving doesn’t really appeal to you, Marriage in the Sky can hook you up–literally. They’ll bring in a crane, attach a platform with plenty of safety features, and hoist it 150 feet into the air. They even have an aisle to walk down! You can have your reception 15 stories off the ground, too–they’ll add a second platform with dinner service or to hold a string quartet. The only thing they can’t do, apparently, is add a dance floor.

If you want to test that whole “‘’til death do we part” bit of your wedding vow as quickly as possible, there are plenty of high-adrenaline wedding options for you. Just make sure you get your SCUBA certification, skydiving license, or theme park admission before the day of the wedding. And if you’re asking your best man and maid of honor to go twenty feet underwater or 150 feet in the air, consider splurging on those wedding party gifts.

Thoughtful Wedding Gift Ideas

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SailboatWhen you’re planning to attend a wedding, it is usually appropriate to bring along some type of gift for the bride and groom. Usually the couple will have created a gift registry at a nearby department store with a huge list of items they’d like to receive, or you can give them a card with a gift card or cash to help them get their lives started. However, some of the best gifts you can give at a wedding are completely unique, original, and unexpected. I happen to know first-hand how tough it can be to come up with thoughtful wedding gift ideas because I just had two daughters get married a few month apart. I thought I’d share some of the ideas I had on my list to kick start your brainwaves into a more creative mode.

Gift Registry: This is an obvious one that ensures the couple will get exactly what they want. There is nothing wrong with going this route, but if you are very close to the couple or want to give them something they’ll truly cherish, buying from the gift registry can be a bit bland.

Cash: Giving the gift of cold hard cash is always a welcome token to any newlywed couple. Since they are just starting their lives together and probably forked out a pile of cash for their wedding, cash can be a nice treat. However, like the gift registry, cash is a thoughtless gift that doesn’t really convey how much you care or that you spent some time thinking about your gift.

Personalized Gifts: My personal favorite way to go is to give them a gift that is totally unexpected and very overwhelming. Don’t go into debt trying to impress the couple, just do something on whatever scale fits into your budget. Some of the best ideas that made my personal list are as follows:

  • Charter the couple a private sailboat for a day. There is nothing more romantic than giving a newlywed couple a private escape for a full day. Usually this is done with a gift certificate so they can choose a day that works for both of them.
  • Rent them a lake house for the weekend. This is also a great way to give the couple a weekend away from the normal grind of life.
  • Buy them a wine club membership. Nearly everyone loves a good glass of wine, and enrolling them into a wine club will let them taste new varieties and develop their palettes.  Also, a nice glass of wine can help them unwind after a long day of work.
  • Charter a hot air balloon adventure. This one isn’t a good idea if one or both people are afraid of heights, but if you know the couple well enough a hot air balloon adventure can be a once in a lifetime treat.
  • Buy them a new computer or television. Most couples won’t put anything too expensive on their gift registry because they know they probably won’t get it. If you know the couple either wants or needs a new high-end electronic device, you can really leave them speechless.

Regardless of what type of gift you choose to give the couple, the worst thing you can do is add another useless gift like a bread machine to their pile of gifts from their registry. Though the couple probably picked out those items themselves, they really don’t convey how much you care. Set aside a little time and really think about something the bride and groom would either appreciate or need, and you really can’t go wrong. Good luck and happy shopping!