Whether you’re dreaming of a rustic wedding reception, or looking for ideas for another event, Amanda and Philip’s lovely rehearsal dinner is just full of eye candy and inspiration…

From the groom’s family: “Amanda and Philip’s rehearsal dinner served as an ode to the couple’s love of nature. When we first gathered ideas for the evening, we kept referencing the couple’s love for hiking and kayaking through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspiration came from the beautiful trails that traverse this area of the country. Ferns, queen anne’s lace, and orchids were gathered to accent the natural interior. We found a beautiful french grain sack linen for the head table and paired it with family china.”

Escort cards were actually copper garden markers, “planted” in boxes of moss. Find similar markers from Gardener’s Supply Company.

Signature drinks were bourbon and Coke and Prosecco garnished with blackberries. Blackberries also made an appearance in the favors. From the groom’s family: “Wild blackberries grow on our hunting property, and every year, for as long as we can remember, we have picked blackberries and made the most delicious blackberry jam. Shortly after Amanda and Philip’s engagement, we picked the berries and canned 80 small jars of jam for guests to take as they left the dinner.”


See all of this rustic rehearsal dinner in the gallery.


Why did you choose this location for your wedding weekend?  The mountains around the Chattooga River are a special area to us and Long Creek is particularly special as it’s where Philip took me for our first Valentine’s Day. The views of the mountains from Kingwood Resort, located just outside of Long Creek in Clayton, Georgia, are gorgeous and it offered up a variety of things for our guests to do while they spent the weekend with us.

What was your favorite moment or part of the rehearsal dinner?  The toasts were my favorite part of the dinner! We have incredible family and friends who gave us really heartfelt toasts that night. It was unexpected and really wonderful.

What was the best advice you received as a bride?  To enjoy every moment of the wedding and rehearsal dinner and not stress about what may have gone a little wrong. The wedding weekend will go by in a blur, so don’t worry about the little things that no one else would even notice.

Photographer: Ashley Seawell / Event Planner, Floral Designer: Ashley Rhodes Events / Venue, Catering: The Lodge at Kingwood Country Club in Clayton, Georgia / Dress, Shoes: Kate Spade / Groom’s Attire: J. Crew / Stationery: Reaves Engraving / Rentals: All Star Tents and Events / Music: West End String Band / Cake: Holly’s Cakes / Stirrers: My Wedding Reception Ideas
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Today I have a fun two-part feature for you! First up, Stephanie and Tyler’s yummy rehearsal dinner in the Napa Valley. Guests were served mini bottles of Ma(i)sonry wine as they arrived, and enjoyed other boutique wines, the bride and groom’s favorite Aperol spritz cocktails, and small plates of Italian dishes and charcuterie.

Stop back in just a bit for this couple’s gorgeous black tie wedding!

Photographer: Jose Villa / Planner: Laurie Arons Special Events / Venue: Ma(i)sonry in Yountville, California / Catering: Paula Le Duc Fine Catering
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One of the reasons I love featuring rehearsal dinners is that they’re inevitably more relaxed than weddings, and that laid back feeling is something I’d love to see at more wedding receptions! To inspire you today, Amory and Marc’s gorgeous August rehearsal dinner in Maine…

Amory shared some details about the day:  In planning our wedding, we thought most about our friends’ and family’s weekend in Maine, and giving them an experience that captured all that Maine offered. We couldn’t think of a more perfect place than my parents’ home to welcome everyone to Maine. Whenever we come home to visit my parents, my mom plans a huge dinner with a house full of friends and neighbors, a delicious meal, and cocktails overlooking the ocean in the fresh salt air. We tried to create this feeling for the rehearsal dinner – friends, family, lobster, BBQ, and (luckily) a beautiful Maine summer day.

I love these drink stirrers that Amory made with striped paper straws and Washi tape!

Guests could help themselves to fresh popcorn.

The dinner menu was printed directly on paper table runners: lobster, barbecue chicken, pulled pork, sausage, cole slaw, beans, sangria, wine, beer, and whoopie pies for dessert.

Sugar-lime cookies were packaged in blue striped bags so guests could enjoy them or take them home for later. Guests also enjoyed croquet and driving golf balls off the rocks.

Amory’s advice for other brides? “It’s going to be an amazing weekend, so don’t forget to look around and soak it all in.”



Photography: Moss + Isaac / Tent: Sperry Tents / Amory’s dress: Mason by Michelle Mason / Marc’s attire: J.Crew / Table runners: Paulina Reyes / Wine glasses, napkins: IKEA / Barbecue: Harvey’s Sebago Lake Smokehouse / Lobster: Ready Seafood / Whoopie Pies: Amato’s


Congratulations Amory and Marc, and Happy Anniversary!

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Today’s feature is actually a rehearsal dinner, but I think it could just as easily be a really fun wedding, and it felt like a really fun theme for the Fourth of July weekend. Laurie Arons created this retro hoedown party for a bride and groom in Calistoga, and Thayer Allyson Gowdy captured it all in these great shots…

 During the cocktail hour guests enjoyed a full bar, including the signature drink of whiskey sours, as well as mesquite grilled prawns and chipotle deviled eggs. Dinner included buttermilk fried chicken, barbecue ribs, biscuits, cornbread and coleslaw.

 Everyone came dressed in their cowboy gear! Welcome baskets included the classic children’s book This is San Francisco, old fashioned peanut brittle, Popchips, sunscreen, a San Francisco/Napa Valley Zagat guide customized with the couple’s wedding date (a gift from the Zagats, close friends of the couple), a tin of roasted almonds from Torn Ranch, Calistoga mineral water, and a detailed welcome letter listing the weekend’s activities.

 Instead of numbers, tables were named after vintage western movies and shows.

 Guests enjoyed a country western themed movie about the bride and groom.


  Dinner was followed by square dancing, complete with a caller, and dessert. The bride loves cake, so Perfect Endings made a display of home-style favorites, including devil’s food, banana, spiced pecan, and red velvet. There were also s’mores (with organic dark chocolate, and homemade marshmallows and grahams – of course!) to end the evening. Guests were sent home with small burlap bags filled with retro candy.

If this doesn’t look like a fun time, then I don’t know what does! Congratulations Chrissy and Alex – see some pics of their actual wedding day over on Laurie’s blog.

Photographer: Thayer Allyson Gowdy / Venue: Durham Ranch in St. Helena, California / Planning, Design: Laurie Arons Special Events / Catering: Daniel Ripley Catering / Cakes:  Perfect Endings / Bluegrass Band: Innovative Entertainment / Table Numbers: PS Paper / Hats, Bandannas: Oriental Trading Company
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Sharon and Francis’s delightful rehearsal dinner took place at The Olde Farm in Bristol, a town that straddles the Virginia/Tennessee border, and Sharon’s hometown. Photos by Gertrude & Mabel.

 Sharon wore a dress by Miu Miu and shoes by Sigerson Morrison.

   The evening was planned in the spirit of “cheap and cheerful.” Red bandannas used for napkins were purchased from Oriental Trading. Red geraniums from a local garden center were placed in basket from the Texas Basket Company as living centerpieces.

 Sharon and Francis thought it would be fun to treat their out-of-town guests to some Southern food and music – barbecue and bluegrass! Dinner was catered by The Olde Farm, and included Southern favorites like pulled pork, barbecue chicken, baked beans, and slaw. Beer was kept cold in big galvanized tubs full of ice, with vintage bottle openers hanging from ribbons tied to the handles. Strawberry shortcake was served in red- and white-checked paper trays. There was also homemade ice cream in a variety of regional flavors such as peach and Southern Comfort pecan.

The large barn was decorated with custom papel picado banners from Mexican Sugar Skull. To make the huge barn seem more intimate, they “lowered” the ceiling by hanging the paper banners and strings of round party lights.

The piñata in Sharon and Francis’ initials was a huge hit. It was filled with all kinds of adult-appropriate goodies, like mini liquor bottle chocolates, candy cigarettes, fake engagement rings, little metal bird and bug pins from Silver Crow Creations, and old fashioned candy from Economy Candy in New York. The pins and rings were wrapped in small glassine bags, sealed with red dot stickers from Staples.

 Sharon designed the paper napkins, wooden spoons, and s’mores baggies to match a motif on the invitations (she is a graphic designer at Yours Etcetera).

The evening ended with a big bonfire and s’mores – graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate were in little bags nearby, along with sticks for marshmallow roasting.

For even more inspiration, check out Sharon and Francis’ beautiful wedding, featured on Martha Stewart Weddings.

  • Barbecue Rehearsal Dinner in Tennessee

    14 February 2009
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