With so much focus on the wedding day, it can be pretty easy to forget about other events during the engagement, like the rehearsal! We loved Andrea + Pete’s pre-wedding celebration at Big Top Chautauqua, a non-profit performing arts tent theater overlooking Lake Superior. The couple and their guests are from Utah, so traveling to Minnesota was the perfect getaway for their wedding weekend!
The couple graciously provided their guests with dinner and drink tickets so they could enjoy some casual fare and ice-cold beer while waiting for the featured band, “Home Free”, to perform. The bride + groom mingled among the guests and had many awesome photo opportunities with friends and loved ones. We especially love the face cut-out boards they used to capture many funny moments! The overall atmosphere was very laid-back and fun, which is perfect for a rehearsal setting.
The evening was full of good food, great music, and wonderful people. While hosting this type of event is certainly not required, it’s a great opportunity for your guests to get to know each other, especially if many of them are from out of town. The key is to focus more on family and friends, and less on the details and decorations. Here are a few tips to create your own amazing (and stress-free) pre-wedding celebration for your guests!
Tip #1: Pick your date, time and location.
The first step in planning your welcome event is to decide when and where you are going to have it! Couples most often choose to have it the night before the wedding, but it all depends on when the majority of out-of-town guests will be arriving. A great idea is to have a welcome event after your rehearsal dinner, at a nearby bar, restaurant, park or other venue. When selecting a location, be sure to choose a venue that is big enough for your guests, has both seating and standing room, and some in-house decor to work with so you don’t have to bring all of it in on your own. Keep in mind that the atmosphere should be pretty laid-back, so make sure the timeline is relatively simple so guests can come and go as they please.
Tip #2: Choose your guest list.
Although there is no official rule of whom to invite to the welcome event, we recommend including all of your guests to celebrate with you. It gives the out-of town guests a chance to feel more “at home”, and it gives the local guests a chance to meet the out-of-towners, which results in a more intimate and friendly celebration on the day of the wedding! If inviting your entire guest list is out of budget, then we recommend sticking to out-of-town guests only, so the local guests don’t feel left out. When it comes to spreading the word about your pre-wedding celebration, we suggest including a separate card in your invitations, or adding something to your wedding website.
Tip #3: Serve light bites.
Since welcome events have a casual vibe, the food selections should be reflective of that as well. Try serving a few butler passed hors d’oeuvres, or have a nice embellishment table with a spread of fruits, meats and breads for guests to munch on. A fun option is to pair the drinks with the food (think mini burgers with a shot of craft beer), but you can also keep things classic with “his” and “hers” cocktails, or just beer and wine. We recommend having a few non-alcoholic options as well, such as lemonade, infused water or a refreshing spritzer.