A rehearsal dinner is traditionally a relaxed, fun affair with the wedding party taking a moment to unwind amidst the countdown to your wedding day. So what could be more perfect than an outdoor gathering in an open breezy backyard, a barbecue party to be exact?
But is the prospect of laboring over a hot grill the last thing you want as you try to chill? Don’t fret about it! You can always opt for a catered bbq dinner. That way, you can have more elegant table settings and sit back and enjoy the savory menu along with your guests! For some ideas for pulling this off in style, take a look at our online finds—from place settings to a drinks display to a snacks table to your favors. Happy planning! (*this post contains affiliate links)
Inspiration Board for a Truly Modern BBQ Party
- For your invitations, you can save on cost and time with customizable printable designs like this one from Alana Grosse Designs on etsy. Having a pro graphic designer make the font choices and layout for you ensures that your invites will have that warm, welcoming look and feel just right for a casual bbq event!
- Red is a great color for a bbq setup. In fact, you’ll notice many of the images we found have red in them! In this table setting from Epicurious (found via Second Street East), we love how the bold red napkins just pop against the wooden picnic table with matching stools. Note, too, the wire lanterns also in red that serve as charming centerpieces!
- Bring back the old school chalkboard for your party menu! Try this fun idea that is also budget-friendly and so easy to do from the blog of A Slice of Wonderbread, which features an actual rehearsal dinner bbq.
- Don’t forget the snacks table! Aside from all the grilled dishes you’ll be serving, set up a station for treats like popcorn, nuts, cookies, muffins, and mini pies. We got the idea from this great pic found on Juneberry Lane (attributed to Project Wedding). Don’t those bags of popcorn look so tempting? Perfect for chatting the evening away at your rehearsal party!
- Believe it or not, this quaint beverage tray is a refurbished Atlas parts washer (whatever that is)! The ever-resourceful and stylish Heather Bullard explains how she made this piece food safe. She scraped off any loose paint, applied a clear spray sealer, and lined it with clear trash bags before filling with ice and bottled drinks!
- You can spare yourselves getting all hot and bothered grilling your bbq party fare. Instead, hire a barbecue catering service like BBQ Connection LLC to take care of everything. Their “Pigs on the Run” team is a championship BBQ catering crew, no less, grilling everything fresh on-site! Look for a similar pro service in your area.
- For your centerpieces, daisies in jam or mason jars would be a cute and simple choice. We spotted these at a BaByQ Baby Shower (isn’t that a clever theme?) on Whimsy and Wise. Just tie on sweet tags with your initials perhaps? Alongside, have bottles of homemade hot sauce or barbecue sauce, both for use at the party and for guests to take home.
- Send guests home with a yummy piece of this party—s’mores in a jar! They can then enjoy these at their own outdoor summer events (if they even last that long!). For the super-easy how-to for packaging these jar favors, we have to thank Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body. You can personalize the labels to say a sweet thank you to your wedding party.
UPDATED March 21, 2018!
This post has been so popular since we published it in 2012, so we are giving you even more creative ideas for a bbq rehearsal dinner.
Beverages and/or Drinks Stations
With such a flavorful BBQ menu, do provide refreshing drinks for your guests. An easy and always welcome option would be freshly-squeezed fruit juices set up in a tropical drinks bar. A lemonade stand or ice tea station (seen above) at the event would also be definite winners! Or ice cold bottled water or fruit-infused water in dispensers presented as a self-serve hydration station.
If you’d like to offer over some boozy beverages, there are fun and fabulous ways to do so. Think summer cocktails made with fruits, and even icy desserts like spiked snow cones or other frozen treats made with alcohol, like sorbets, ice cream sandwiches, popsicles and granitas.
BBQ Rehearsal Dinner Activities
Planning activities for a rehearsal dinner can be a bit tricky since the gathering is usually held just a couple of days or even the evening before the wedding! So you don’t want to tire your bridal party out with something too strenuous. (*this section contains affiliate links)
If your bbq happens to be in your backyard, why not put out some lawn games for true outdoor excitement that both adults and kids can enjoy? From bowling to horseshoe toss, find something fun to do from these 12 summer lawn games.
Trivia or guessing games about the couple are a safe and fun choice. They can be done while guests sit at their tables, and enjoy the meal and refreshments. Pre-made supplies, like these “He Said, She Said” game cards (Sold by Hadley Designs and Fulfilled by Amazon), come in handy.
Advice cards for the bride and groom are another easy option. Choose a card design that suits your BBQ cookout theme, like these rustic wedding advice cards (available from Amazon).
If your rehearsal dinner is a few days before the Big Day, you may decide on activities that need a little more time. For example, you could prepare supplies for the lady bridal party members to craft wedding elements like floral crowns, garlands, paper cranes as in our post here. While for the gents, you could have them decorate cans to be used for your wedding getaway car, as in our post here.
More BBQ-themed Rehearsal Dinner Invitations
While e-vites may be popular nowadays, it would be nice to send out actual invite cards for such a quaint event as a BBQ cookout. Here are our picks to match the cookout decor. (*this section contains affiliate links)
- “I Do” BBQ Sunflower Couple Shower Rustic Invite
- “I Do” BBQ Rehearsal Dinner Card
- Vintage Retro BBQ Cookout Postcard
- “I Do” BBQ Party Invitation
- Rustic Vintage Rehearsal Dinner BBQ Card
- Chalkboard Rehearsal Dinner BBQ Invite
BBQ Party Supplies: Editor’s Picks for You
To help you get ready amidst all the pre-wedding buzz, we’ve chosen these basic supplies you will need for your rehearsal dinner cookout. (*this section contains affiliate links)
- Red & White Checkered Tablecloth – ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
- Bandana Luncheon Napkins – available on Amazon
- Bamboo Utensil Caddy – available from Amazon
- Wooden Framed Standing Chalkboard Sign – sold by South Street Designs and Fulfilled by Amazon.
- Chalk Note Mason Jar Tumbler – available from Pier1 Imports
For even more theme ideas for your rehearsal dinner, visit these Bellenza posts:
Love this idea? You may also want to see our inspiration board for a barnyard wedding!