The Night Before the Big Day

Create a memorable rehearsal dinner party — a N.H. wedding expert tells you what you need to know.Just as tradition has begun to make way for changes in how couples plan and think about their wedding days, so has the thinking evolved on what constitutes a perfect rehearsal dinner. Typically a night where the engaged couple, close friends, family and wedding party gather for food and a chance for a relaxing moment amidst frantic last-minute plans and jitters, some brides are choosing to ditch the just-dinner plan in favor of everything from clam bakes to their very own Mardi Gras.Event planner Amy Piper of Signature Events ( has seen it all, from brides who stick to the simple dinner idea to brides who want a lavish and themed affair as intricately planned as their wedding. Whatever point in the spectrum you fall on — from simple to elaborate — Piper has an idea that will inspire you to get creative.Formal – Some brides, says Piper, want their dinner to be as formal and resplendent as their weddings. The move towards large, formal dinners, adds Piper, is growing.Take a Cruise — Forget the Caribbean and take a New Hampshire cruise on one of our great lakes, like Winnipesauke, or head to Portsmouth for a trip around the Isles of Shoals. One bride, recalls Piper, took advantage of the band already provided on the regular evening cruise. As an extra gesture to guests, especially those from out of town, suggests Piper, hire transportation to make sure everyone arrives and leaves safely (and on time).A New England Clam Bake — Get into the New England spirit by hosting an old-fashioned clambake. This idea, says Piper, is a little less elaborate while still taking the rehearsal dinner a step further. By using checked tablecloths and bundling up s’more fixings for guests, the dinner Piper planned was casual and fun. There’s definitely no way to remain tidy and uptight while cracking into juicy lobster. A similar idea, adds Piper, is a picnic-themed dinner. One couple that were hiking enthusiasts planned their elegant yet fun picnic atop a mountain.If you’re really looking to quash some nerves and lose some stress, plan a “roast and toast” dinner where the couple is the center of their guests’ well-meaning jokes and funny anecdotes.Dinner and Cocktail Hour — For brides with many out of town guests, says Piper, a private dinner with the wedding party and family can be followed by a cocktail hour or dessert with the rest of the guests. This way, adds Piper, everyone is included without having to plan an elaborate dinner.Relive Your First Date — Plan your dinner where you had your first date or at a similar venue.Other Low-key Ideas — A pool party, BBQ or dinner by the lakeside.In the end, advises Piper, plan a dinner that best reflects your personalities and interests and you’re sure to create a memorable night.