When you’re busy planning away for your big day, it’s easy to leave those pesky little details — like the rehearsal dinner — to the very last minute. But contrary to popular belief, your rehearsal dinner doesn’t have to be another extravagant affair to be fun. It’s all about rocking a stylish rehearsal dinner dress and enjoying a meal with your family and bridal party to usher in the wedding festivities. Whether you’re catering to a large crowd of extended family in town or keeping it intimate with just the wedding party, these cool (and totally attainable) rehearsal dinner ideas below will be the perfect way to kick off your wedding weekend.


1. Seaside Dining: Set up a makeshift picnic on the beach with a few essentials: cozy pillows, a wood pallet for the table and plenty of good eats and booze. It’s the perfect way to relax with your loved ones before the big day. You can also throw in a beach bonfire to keep the party going. (via Two Birds Photography / Style Me Pretty)


2. Mexican Fiesta: Create a colorful, fun look with a gorgeous Mexico-inspired display like this one. All you’ll need is a Mexican blanket, plenty of florals + cacti and a few candles spread about. You can do a taco bar or small bites like mini enchiladas and taquitos for the grub. Just be sure to whip up a big batch of margaritas. (via 100 Layer Cake / Wild Whim Design + Photography)


3. Vineyard Setting: Throw a rehearsal dinner that’s still super elegant by keeping it casual and small with your closest family members and friends. An evening in the garden or vineyard sounds idyllic — especially if you’re already at the vineyard for the wedding! (via Style Me Pretty / Melanie Duerkopp)


4. Pizza Party: Who doesn’t love pizza? This idea is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, and it doesn’t get any easier to plan. Elevate the look a bit with stylish serveware and cute pizza trays. (via Style Me Pretty / Onelove Photography)


5. Wine and Cheese: Wine, cheese and charcuterie are another no-fail concept. Set out an endless array of options so guests can graze while chatting about the upcoming nuptials. (via Apartment 34)


6. Backyard Gathering: For a more laid-back option, set up a cute backyard picnic. Blankets and pillows can work as seating on the grass. To really set the tone, add tiki lamps or string lights. (via We Are Scout)


7. Beach Clambake: If you’re at a seaside location, a clambake is the way to go to serve the masses. Have it catered or assign a family member to prep a few big batches of seafood, then enjoy with everyone alfresco (preferably on the beach). (via Inside Weddings)


8. Park Picnic: Reserve a spot at your local park for an affordable way to host your rehearsal dinner crowd. Have fun with the decor by enlisting vintage pieces — like a cool canoe for a giant cooler — so guests can serve themselves. (via Martha Stewart)


9. Seafood Cocktails: A light, refreshing dinner can be just the thing before a busy, busy day. Serve up fresh oysters with an array of sauces for a cute seafood bar. Pair with a well-stocked wine bar + some bread and cheese spreads, and you’re good to go! (via Brides)


10. Rooftop Dinner: Go with a more urban vibe with a casual dinner on the rooftop of your own building or at a downtown restaurant. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors if you’re having a summer wedding in the city. (via Offbeat + Inspired)


11. BBQ Dinner: Serve up some delicious BBQ for the ultimate summer rehearsal dinner. We love the idea of a casual backyard gathering complete with BBQ classics, a cozy fire pit and delicious s’mores for dessert. (via Wedding Chicks)


12. Beer Tasting: Set up a beer tasting for an entertaining activity that will pave the way for your big day. Use black construction paper and chalk to write out the different options, then simply make sure there are enough tasting glasses or cups for everyone. Don’t forget a few beer-friendly eats to round out the night. (via Martha Stewart)


13. Fondue Party: Everyone in the family will enjoy this favorite group-style dining idea. Whether you go to a restaurant or set up a selection of cheese and chocolate fondues, it’s a stylish way to get the party started. (via Always Festive)

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