Keep the eve of your wedding as stress-free as possible by hosting a casual rehearsal dinner right in your home. It may seem like a bigger headache for you. But as our 8 themed tablescapes below show, you can choose a stylish theme and focus the decorating on the tables, then go for easy, make-ahead dishes or have friends and family cook for you—or simply order from a caterer! Trust us. With proper advance planning, having a lovely at-home rehearsal dinner is doable!
Hawaiian Island Cocktail Party
Style an elegant take on a Hawaiian-inspired event with a palette of sandy beach tones—ivory, beige, brown and rust—freshened by all-foliage centerpieces in gleaming metallic globe vases. Use seashell holders for the place cards, tuck the napkins into the guests’ wine glasses, tie on raffia pompoms as tropical-style glass charms, and run strands of pearls amidst the table elements. Serve appetizers such as crab Rangoon, shrimp and pineapple kabobs, and Terikyaki chicken skewers, paired with cocktails like pineapple daiquiris, Mai Tais, and piña coladas.
One Night in Paris Theme
If your wedding will have a French flair, why not plan a rehearsal dinner styled around an evening soiree in the City of Lights? Have a palette of black and white in chic stripes, polka dots and hound’s tooth, softened by dainty pink florals grouped around an Eiffel Tower centerpiece. Serve up a French fare consisting of beef bourguignon and pommes fries. For a sweet ending, present guests with pink macarons, meringues and madeleines with a champagne toast at evening’s end. With extra Paris confections packaged in pretty wraps to be given as favors.
Spanish Tapas Party
Give your rehearsal dinner a unique Castillian flavor with Spanish tapas dishes presented on glazed earthenware and colorful mosaic platters. Popular choices are frittata (potato omelet), garlic mushrooms, chorizo slices, crispy prawns with aioli, and roasted olives. Along with these, the ever-favorite sangria is the drink to serve! And for favors, give Spanish polvorones (powder cookies), mantecados (butter cookies) and turrones (Spanish nougat) in heart-shaped woven boxes.
Whimsical Pasta Party
A pasta party is a really easy theme that can be made fun and fancy. Decorate the tables with whimsical pop art-inspired centerpieces, place cards, and packaged favors in bold, bright colors. Then, set up a pasta bar with a selection of noodles, sauces, a crisp green salad with a balsamic vinaigraitte, breads, cheeses, and Italian wines like Chianti, Lambrusco, and sparkling Asti Spumanti.
Tropical Chic Theme
For a chic tropical affair with simple décor, picture the use of greenery in your table centerpieces based on a crisp palette of green and white with subtle pearl accents. Carry the theme over to your menu with seafood on the grill, appetizers like Vietnamese spring rolls, fresh sushi, and shrimp cocktails. Serve tropical-fruit infused drinks like pineapple mimosas, mango martinis, and guava margaritas. Give simple rehearsal dinner favors with a tropical twist like pineapple almond cookies.
Chinese Buffet Party
Another easy crowd-pleaser beyond the usual is a Chinese-themed gathering. Create a simple centerpiece of candles nestled on bamboo leaves. Then, lay the table setting with glazed ceramic trays, bowls, and saucers serving appetizers like mini steamed pork buns, grilled sesame chicken wings, and shrimp spring rolls, complemented with green or jasmine tea and chilled almond jelly for dessert. The menu can be catered from your favorite Chinese restaurant or home-cooked by friends and relatives.
Polynesian BBQ Theme
Simulate a lush South Pacific island setting with a palette of vibrant fuchsia, jungle green and organic tones. Set a tablescape featuring tropical floral-and-foliage centerpieces laid on palm leaves, and highlighted with candles on shell dishes as well as bamboo and wood accents. Prepare favorite dishes like Hawaiian BBQ chicken, skewers of sweet ham with pineapple chunks, spicy shrimp kebabs with a peanut dip, and crusty crab cakes to be enjoyed with coconut rum cocktails and pineapple martinis.
Seafood on the Grill Theme
Create a tablescape that’s like an inviting oasis on a summer day, using a palette of cool, crisp blue and ivory. Assemble a stunning table-length centerpiece of purple bougainvillea, interspersed with dried starfish, white candles on beds of sand, and seashell frames. True to the theme, treat guests to dishes like grilled salmon with pineapple salsa, shrimp skewers with Asian barbecue sauce, grilled scallops with honeydew-avocado salsa, and fish tacos with lime guacamole and cabbage slaw—paired with chilled white wine and ice cold light beers.
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