Fun Wedding Rehearsal Dinner Ideas

Friends enjoying meal together outdoors

Ariel Skelley/Getty Images

Rehearsal dinners are a great way for families and bridal parties to get to know each other, relax, and the big day to come. They can be formal galas or very casual backyard picnics -- each one is a little different. Here are five fun rehearsal dinner ideas that might be right for you:

Rehearsal Dinners That Are a Little Bit Different

Informal Barbecue
Since most weddings are pretty expensive, couples often look to save money when it comes to their rehearsal dinner. Traditionally, rehearsal dinner guests are limited to close family and members of the wedding party -- those who needed to be part of the actual rehearsal. These close friends and family don't need a grand to-do, they just want the chance to spend time together. So fire up the grills, provide some summer fun like volleyball or Frisbee, and keep things relaxed and easy. For a few special touches, have an after-the-sun-goes-down slideshow of the happy couple's childhoods and relationship, then offer guests sparklers to make the night glitter.

Especially if you're having a destination wedding, you might want your rehearsal dinner to be an open invitation to all of your wedding guests. A big rehearsal dinner allows everyone to get to know each other before the wedding. Keep it cocktail style with heavy hors d'oeuvres, which will allow everyone to mix and mingle. Provide nametags to help get the small talk started. Nametags can even have an extra space for guests to write a few words about how they know the bride and groom for a conversation starter.

Softball Game and Cookout
If you've got a competitive side, pit your families against each other for a friendly game of softball. Have t-shirts made with the couple's faces on them, and provide thirst-quenching customized water bottles as souvenirs. After the game, keep it little-league style with a park cookout, or a trip to your local pizza parlor.

Honeymoon-Themed Party
Get a taste of the couple's future honeymoon by throwing a thematically appropriate rehearsal dinner. Whether they're headed to Hawaii, Europe, or camping in the USA, a luau, an Italian feast, or a campfire cook-out will be fun and inspirational. This style of rehearsal dinner is especially fun if the wedding is entirely unrelated, as it allows guests to have two completely different experiences.

Themed-Food Party
Food is a natural conversation starter, especially when guests get the chance to customize their meals. So have a make-your-own pizza party, a taco bar, or a DIY ice cream sundae social. Give everyone a base to work with, then provide an array of toppings to spark their creativity. (Make sure you've thought of logistics like how all the pizzas will get baked, or how the ice cream will stay cold!) It will be fun to see whose creations are the most similar, and whose seemingly bizarre concoction is actually delicious.

Formal Gala
It's traditional to have a formal wedding and a casual rehearsal dinner. But if you're having a more casual wedding, it can be exciting to flip the script with a formal rehearsal dinner. Since you'll probably be inviting far fewer people, you can splurge a bit on more expensive centerpieces, favors, or meals. Take over a favorite restaurant, or find a romantic and intimate location that would be far too small for the wedding, but is just perfect for the night before. Give your favorite friends and family members an incredible rehearsal dinner to remember.

However you choose to celebrate the night before your wedding, your rehearsal dinner should leave you relaxed, excited, and ready for your wedding day. Just remember that though you can have any kind of rehearsal dinner you want, it should be a reflection of you, your families, and your relationship. Other than that, the sky's the limit!

Watch Now: How Long Does it Really Take to Plan a Wedding?