9 inexpensive rehearsal dinner ideas and ways to find more

9 inexpensive rehearsal dinner ideas and ways to find more

I asked a few experienced friends for inexpensive rehearsal dinner ideas. Most of these are suggestions from real-life rehearsal dinners, second receptions or similar events. Most are best-suited for casual get-togethers. Since the number one rule of the rehearsal dinner is that it should never upstage the wedding, you’ll seldom go wrong with a relaxed affair. I hope you’ll find a launching point for your own low-cost rehearsal dinner among these themes.

Hint: Each of the subheads below is linked to a Pinterest search cued up with more ideas for this theme.

Coordinated Potluck

Pick a theme and  menu and ask friends or guests to provide complementary dishes. The best plan, in my opinion, is  ask people to sign up for different dishes from a planned menu. However, you can take your chances with a “free for all” kind of approach, letting people decide whatever they choose. It has worked (kind of) for churches for centuries. If you do that, though, at least ask them to tell you what they’re bringing. Decide what you can provide — meat? paper products? decor? — and let people help you with the rest.

A more specific potluck idea is to hold the event at a church and provide the meat, preferably fried chicken, for a Southern dinner on the grounds theme. Ask guests to bring sides. Serve sweet tea from a washtub and include hymn singing. Hold this event at a church, of course.

Soup Supper

A variety of soups and stews are great if it’s cold-weather season. Complement with nice breads, a green salad, and finish off with cobblers and cakes. The meal works with table linens and candlelight or with a rustic theme including chalk signs and twine tied around pot handles. This works well in a neighborhood clubhouse.

Italian Buffet

Whether in a restaurant or a homemade, this is an inexpensive meal to serve. One friend chose this option for a post-honeymoon reception in their hometown. Choosing a lunch-time option made it even more affordable.

Another friend suggests a very make-ahead friendly menu of spaghetti, fettuccini alfredo, tossed or ceasar salad, garlic and cheese bread and Italian Cream Cake for dessert. Red checkered table cloths are a nice backdrop for this meal.

Good Morning Rehearsal Dinner

Serve breakfast. This is especially appropriate if the wedding is early the next day.

Fish Fry

This idea came from a friend whose son’s lakeside wedding was perfect for this casual theme. Besides being low-budget, the conveniently situated site meant no one had to travel from the rehearsal to dinner. The menu included catfish, hushpuppies, slaw, baked beans and cake. Red checkered table cloths and washtubs filled with RC Colas and Moon Pies sealed the Southern country style deal.

Fajita Night / Tex Mex

A menu of fajita makings, salsa, chips, rice, and beans won’t break the bank and offers tons of decorating options. This tip comes from a personal chef who knows food costs better than the average mama bear. A taco bar is another variation on this theme. Think tons of low-cost toppings!


Several friends have held rehearsal dinners in Chinese restaurants. Proprietors were very flexible and allowed the hosts to bring in cake or other desserts. Or order takeout and let the colorful containers add to the decor.

Burgers & Dogs

One friend served burgers and hotdogs for the rehearsal and a barbecue dinner for the reception. Family members made everything except the barbecue and wedding cake for this perfect day.


What’s more friendly or relaxed than a backyard picnic? The list of low-cost, delicious dishes you could serve is long, whether prepared by yourself and friends or purchased. Use borrowed picnic baskets and table cloths for accents. Add hand-picked flowers in recycled jars and you’re set. This event moves well to local parks and other outdoor venues which can usually be rented inexpensively.

The beauty of looking or inexpensive rehearsal dinner ideas in this new millenium is that the internet, especially Pinterest, and social media mean help is mere keystrokes away. Ask your Facebook friends or surf Pinterest for ideas. There are more thoughts and themes than you and all of your mother of the groom friends can use. Find the inspiration you love then make it your own!