Q. I am getting married in North Carolina in early October of this year. I am having a formal wedding and I wanted to know what ideas you can share with me for the informal rehearsal dinner the night before?
-Informal for Formal
A. Instead of having the typical dinner at a restaurant, which seems the norm these days, why not go for the fun factor and have a “clambake” in someone’s backyard? You can usually order the clambake “buckets” at gourmet food shops. Grill up corn on the grill and offer beer and wine chilled on ice in big buckets. Fill a backyard with oversized beach blankets, we love the ones at landsend.com and pile pillows for comfort. Put together a play list of music on your iPod of beach music from old Beach Boys and the Go-Gos to newer tunes. Perhaps even set up a volleyball net and croquet.
Or, skip dinner and have your rehearsal guests join you for afternoon tea. While they serve little sandwiches, no one ever seems to go hungry with the sandwiches, cakes, sweets and more that they pile on those multiple tiered serving dishes. And you can choose hot teas or iced tea.
For another casual, fun party, you could create your own mini Olympics by creating teams, having each guest wear a colored sash for their team and come up with games including baton races, sack races, hula hoop timing, count basketball shots in a minute and have chocolate medallions as prizes to signify gold, silver and bronze.
As a party favor you could offer a retro candy table, check out candycrate.com, and guests can fill up Chinese takeout containers that can be found at party stores with their favorite sweets.
Or, have a wine and cheese tasting party. Contact a good local wine shop or speak to a sommelier at one of your favorite restaurants to set up wine and cheese pairings. You can set up the get together at a happy hour time rather than the usual dinner hours. Have the wine merchant or sommelier guide people through the tastings and have all the accoutrements available like good baguettes, nuts, dried fruits and fruit pastes to work with the cheese.