Traditionally, the rehearsal dinner gets the wedding party prepped for the big day. But it also often serves as an occasion for the in-laws-to-be to get to know each other better—if not meet for the first time! This calls for a welcoming, fun atmosphere then. And at the height of summer, what could be more inviting than a casually elegant tropical-themed gathering?
Here, we offer a fresh take on “tropical,” though. From selecting the ideal venue, to planning eye-catching table décor and delightful guest favors, even to organizing fun icebreaker games, this rehearsal dinner is sure to be a memorable event for all.
Find a Casually Elegant Venue
Since the atmosphere is intended to be warm and somewhat informal, you may consider hosting this dinner party at home. This will allow everyone to chat and mingle in a more relaxed setting. Plus it will make the game-playing easier—without risk of disturbing others. A private home is also ideal for a cookout-out dinner, whether a family-style barbecue or an exotic luau. If you do opt for a restaurant, however, we suggest you reserve a private room where you can all engage in conversation without having to compete with “ambient noise.”
Evoke a Stylish Tropical Oasis With Table Decor
Once you’ve chosen your venue, plan table decorations with a stylish tropical flair. These need not be fancy or expensive. You’d be surprised at how readily-available and easy-to-assemble decor accents can work wonders! For instance, a simple table runner with a lush, tropical pattern, topped with cut stems of bird-of-paradise, immediately sets the look. You can even try other tropical flowers and plants such as plumerias, hibiscus, or monstera leaves. The magic then comes with the soft glow of candlelight! Bring this in with votive candles in glass cylinders wrapped with raffia, white pillar candles on pearl-trimmed rings, and tea lights perched on shell dishes. Finally, scatter pretty shell accents amidst the table setting to convey that “romantic night on the beach” feel.
Give Guest Favors With a Special Meaning
As we said, this party is an intimate event. So, it’s a wonderful opportunity to give favors that impart a special meaning—especially in the context of bringing two families together. Perfect mementos would be those that reflect the bride and groom’s personal background and/or interests. Or you can also choose totally whimsical favors that reveal the couple’s light and fun side. Here are some examples:
- A sweet treat - If you want to stay true to the wedding tradition of giving Jordan almonds, then these shell-trimmed trays serve the purpose with a fittingly tropical twist.
- A photo keepsake - For a touch of nostalgia, baby photos of the bride and groom can be presented in a carved gold keepsake frame; or in one encrusted with seashells or made of abalone shell, in keeping with the tropical theme. An option would be to have these frames hold place cards to mark each guest’s place setting.
- A package of tropical-inspired goodies - Try baking a batch of macadamia nut bars, or cookies infused with tropical flavors such as pineapple, coconut, or banana. Then, to make the presentation extra special, package these treats in colorful fabric circles.
- A bottle of your favorite beverage - Is there a favorite soda, wine, or coffee drink that holds special memories for the couple? Personalize the bottle or package with a label bearing a message such as “We Make the Perfect Blend!” for a pack of coffee, or “You Go to My Head!” for a bottle of wine.
- A personal message of thanks - This is a chance for the bride and groom to convey a short and sweet message to their families. Using fine stationery, handwrite your message or print it out on your computer in a lovely cursive font. Enclose it in an elegant picture frame and simply tuck it into a favor pouch. Candy or chocolates are optional.
Fun “Icebreaker Games” for the Rehearsal Dinner
This rehearsal dinner may be the first time that the bride’s and groom’s family members and friends will meet. So, it’s a good idea to come up with some icebreaker games to be held either before or after the meal.
Before you start:
- The games below assume that guests are seated with a mix of family members and friends from both the bride’s and groom’s side.
- Prepare group prizes, as these games are designed to encourage interaction among the guests.
- Great group-prize ideas: movie tickets, gift cards, or gift bags
Ready, get set, play!
1. “Who’s at your table?” – When the game begins, announce that everyone will be given 5 minutes to memorize the names of their table mates (place cards can help). When the time is up, each table will choose 1 representative to name everyone at their table while blindfolded! The table whose representative correctly names the most number of table mates wins.
2. “Bride and groom trivia” – Without announcing that this is part of a game, show a 3- to 5-minute video or slide presentation about the bride and groom. It can cover personal info, milestones, hobbies, talents, and other interesting trivia. Once the presentation is done, inform the guests that there will be a game based on it, and distribute a sheet of paper and a pencil to each table. Read out a list of questions on the trivia shown, with the table members writing their answers as a group. The table with the most number of correct answers wins.
3.“Favorites” – Distribute a sheet of paper and a pencil to each table. Announce that the guests will have to correctly list the bride’s and groom’s “favorites” (this will require all the table mates to confer). Then, proceed to read out the categories of favorites. Choose from these or select your own: movie, ice cream flavor, travel destination, type of food, soda drink, sporting team, car, singer/musician, actor/actress, song, comfort food/junk food, restaurant. Have a representative from each table read aloud their completed lists, with the bride and groom “judging” if the answers are correct or not. The table with the most number of favorites correctly named wins.