If you’re in the midst of wedding planning, the stresses, the deposits, the guest lists, all of it can seem incredibly overwhelming. Want to know the exciting part, though? The most important and special people in your (and your partners) life will soon be gathering in one area to celebrate the two of you and the love you share. How mind-blowingly amazing is that!? Answer: incredibly. There are not many other times in your life (if any) that all of those people who mean so much to you will be in the same place, at the same time! The day of flies by so quickly, as everyone will tell you, having an opportunity to come together and celebrate the day before makes it all the more memorable.
There are so many etiquette tips that fly around the interwebs citing that this person must pay for this, and that person must do this. My opinion? You do you, my sweet. Whatever is going to make your special evening memorable for you and yours, do that. Is that a sit down meal at the new restaurant in the city that everyone’s been dying to check out? Boom. Do that! Is it a wine and cheese filled soiree where everyone sips and samples all night long? Sounds equally lovely. Pizza party? Umm, yes please (please invite me to this rehearsal dinner if that’s you!)
Our rehearsal dinner was everything we wanted it to be and more, much of which was completely untraditional. We chose to keep our rehearsal dinner intimate, surrounded by just our bridal party and family. Add some sweeping Washington vineyards, a family who knows how to work a BBQ, a zootopia of pool floaties, a pickup game of soccer, the most epic dance party of the ages, an unbeatable sunset and we couldn’t have asked for anything better.
Zach and I’s rehearsal dinner was at a Ranch House below where our actual wedding was being held (super convenient!). This location also happened to house the Groomteam, so they were all able to stay there the night prior which was very fun, and entertaining to say the least. The bridesquad was staying just above the Ranch House at our stunning wedding venue (I go on and on about my love for this place here).
Without further ado, here are my recommendations for the do’s and don’ts to make your day before your big day as memorable (and relaxing!) as possible.
Make it Yours: Rehearsal dinners do not need to be at a fancy restaurant. Although if that’s your thing, you do you! We opted for a backyard BBQ full of epic pool floaties, a game of pickup soccer and impromptu toasts. It was incredibly laid back, and we wouldn’t have traded it for anything in the world. I’ve also been to rehearsal dinners at beautiful restaurants, and those are equally as lovely. The only thing to remember? Make this an authentic representation of you as a couple, and the rest is easy.
Savor the Moment: I had so many “pinch me” moments this evening. From the moment our bridal party and family started to arrive, I legitimately could not wipe the smile off my face. It felt like that overwhelming excitement you have before going to disneyland as a kid (or as an adult….#disneylandforever). Zach and I were both a mix of emotions, happy nerves and giddiness all evening long. But as I’ve mentioned, your wedding day absolutely zooms by, and your rehearsal dinner is no different! As much as we would have loved this evening to last forever, it flew by.
You will have so many friends and family asking what they can do to help in the days and weeks leading up to your wedding. We took advantage of their kindness this evening, and asked Zach’s sister Bailey, and our future sister-in-law Brianne to be designated as the paparazzi this evening and I am SO glad we did. They took turns alternating between a regular and Polaroid camera (can we all just rejoice for a moment that polaroids are back?!) Taking photos yourself will be the last thing on your mind, but you will be so grateful that it was on someone’s! These photos perfectly capture the amazing ridiculousness that was our rehearsal dinner, and we are forever grateful for the moments they captured. Tasking someone with this will help you savor the moments long after they’ve passed.
Rehearse: You’re probably thinking, um “duh” Steph. But this is actually quite important. If you’re going to do one thing from this list, don’t forget to practice walking down the aisle! It’s a bit (read: extremely) like herding cats attempting to get everyone’s attention, but you will be so grateful you did this. Not to mention, it will get a few of those happy nerves we chatted about about out of the way. We again made ours super casual, the majority of our bridal party sported Corona’s as they made the way down our faux aisle the evening before. With that out of the way, we were able to completely relax and savor every moment of our rehearsal dinner. Speaking of relaxing, that leads me to our list of don’ts. But first, a few memorable moments from our faux walk down the aisle!
Stress: This is the biggest thing I could possibly stress (ba dum bum ch!) about not only the wedding day, but also the day before. It is so easy to do this, and I’m one to talk. I can be quite a stress case, and I was nearing that point for a brief moment on the day before our wedding when I looked at the beautiful tent we had to decorate and it looked…well, not prepared for a wedding! Luckily, my friends know the way to my heart and the way to bring my stress level down. Two words. DANCE. PARTY. More on this below 🙂
The day before your big day should be filled with relaxing moments. For the most part, what’s done is done. Have faith that every detail you’ve imagined with get pulled off, and if it doesn’t, I can promise you no one will notice (you won’t either!) Because the next day, you’ll be a bit busy living one of the the best days of your life. Embrace that feeling, the little things can wait.
Feel Pressure to Fit a “Mold”: I’m personally all for throwing the etiquette book out the window, in order to pull off a pre-wedding celebration that is an authentic representation of you as a couple. There are lots of folks (with well intentions) who may throw advice your way about what you need to do. Remember that the thing that’s most important, is to make sure this is something that makes you and your future partner overjoyed to your hearts content. This is a celebration of your love, it should feel like the two of you. Remember, you do you baby. The rest will fall into place. I promise.
The Unplanned Moments: Saving my favorite moment for last. Oh man. This unplanned moment. Remember that brief moment of stress I chatted about having above? My girls came in for the win and helped me nip that in the bud. After our beyond lovely dinner came to an end (in the blink of an eye!) we made our way back to the gorgeous abode we were staying in that night, and I glanced out at the amazing tent we would be celebrating in the next day and thought, “HOLY CRAP WE HAVE SO MUCH TO DO!”. My friends are beyond incredible and I will love them forever for this, because they all grabbed boxes of decor, a huge stereo, a cooler of Corona, and we headed out to the tent.
What began with the intention of setting everything up, ended up turning into the best dance party of my life. We blasted “Closer” by the Chainsmokers about 1,000 times and danced our hearts out in the place we would soon be celebrating with the most important people in our lives. But this night, the night before our big day, I was able to have an intimate (and epic) dance party with my best friends. All of my stress washed away, and I remembered what was truly important. This. These moments. These moments of pure joy and unplanned happiness. This is what matters. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for the rest of the weekend, and I will be eternally grateful for the ladies in my life who put it there.
Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials (or maybe you just want to Pin this for “one day” ;)) Remember to savor the moments that matter, and brush that stress off your shoulder. Enjoy every single minute of this exciting time in your life, it truly is unforgettable.