No-Hitch Rehearsal Dinners

While you may be focused on choosing the perfect wedding cake, selecting bridesmaids’ dresses, or whittling down the guest list for your big day, it’s important not to forget about planning the rehearsal dinner. Whether it’s a formal dinner or a casual barbeque, this event is the first time for many of your family members and close friends to meet before you take that walk down the aisle. Here’s what you should know about planning a rehearsal dinner.

Who should you invite to the rehearsal dinner? “Invite all the participants in your ceremony, including the bridal party as well as their spouses and children,” says Debra Thompson, of New Rochelle-based Weddings by Debra Thompson, LLC. “Immediate family members and their families should get an invitation too.Also, it’s always a nice gesture to invite the officiant, and, if you have a young ring bearer and flower girl, include their parents as well.” Thompson points out that many brides and grooms also invite out-of-towners.

Who should pay for the rehearsal dinner? According to Melisa Imberman of The Event of a Lifetime in Millwood,“Traditionally the groom’s family hosts the rehearsal dinner and the bride’s family pays for the wedding. However, Imberman notes that many of today’s weddings are more collaborative. “Couples are getting married when they’re older and have more money, so sometimes the bride and groom decide to pay for the dinner.”
What type of invitation should you send? While some brides may decide on a rehearsal-dinner invitation that coordinates in color and style with their wedding invitation, it’s fun to be creative. If you’re having a casual clambake, send out a seafood-themed invitation. Couples may opt to send the rehearsal-dinner invitation with the wedding invitation (which goes out two months before the date), but not later than one month in advance. RSVPs should be handled by the host.

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What should you keep in mind when choosing a venue? The rehearsal dinner is an opportunity to do something totally different than your wedding. If the wedding’s formal, try something casual, like a barbecue or a cocktail party with lots of hors d’oeuvres plus dessert.

Who should make toasts at the rehearsal dinner? “If the parents of the groom are hosting the event, it’s a nice gesture to have them welcome everyone,” says Thompson. “Also, it’s a perfect opportunity for the bride and groom to extend their thank-yous to the bridal party, to family members, and to the participants who helped with the wedding. This is the time when everybody can get up and talk about how much they love the couple getting married.”


Restaurant Cuisine Seating & Pricing Decor What Makes it So Special
White Plains
(914) 220-0000
American bar and grill with international culinary influences Up to 80 people; $50 to $80 per person Lit candles lead down steps to a Zen-like interior, complete with Japanese lanterns and rock waterfall The space is totally self-contained, boasting its own bar, restroom, sound system, and valet service.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Pocantico Hills
(914) 366-9606
Seasonal cuisine that pays tribute to the Hudson Valley’s farmers (many of the ingredients are grown/raised at Stone Barns) Up to 64 people;
$195 per person for four courses with open bar
Modern elegance in a renovated barn with vaulted ceilings and wide-board reclaimed-pine floors Dine on gourmet “farm- to-table” cuisine in an elegant restaurant with beautiful views of an herb garden and green rolling hills.
Crabtree’s Kittle House
(914) 666-8044
Local Hudson Valley cuisine paired with world-class wines From 10 to 200 people; $45 to $85 per person (food only) Country elegant private dining rooms highlighted by fireplaces This is the place for wine lovers—the restaurant’s “Grand Award” wine cellar has 70,000-plus bottles,making it one the greatest collections of wines in the world.
Castle on the Hudson
(914) 524-6366
Continental American. Dishes include Catskill rainbow trout and smoked salmon with a Riesling froth; tenderloins of Black Angus beef and a red-wine reduction Up to 50 people; from $88 per person; additional $550 facility fee Oversized embroideried tapestries, dramatic chandeliers, and a beautiful fresco-painted ceiling This Normandy-style country estate is the definition of luxury. Your out-of-town guests can dine in style, stay overnight, and enjoy the Castle’s upscale amenities.
42 at Ritz-Carlton
White Plains
(914) 761-4242
New American modern cuisine with Mediterranean influences. Duck with a burnt-orange sauce and fried shallots; halibut over rutabaga-and-carrot purée Up to 42 people;
from $79 per person for tasting menu
Elegant and modern with Swarovski crystal chandeliers, tigerwood columns, and sleek leather chairs Nothing matches the view from the building’s 42nd floor. Unforgettable sunsets.
Harvest on Hudson
(914) 478-2800
Mediterranean. On the menu: filet mignon with mashed potatoes; swordfish steak, and grilled baby artichokes; bourbon pecan tart with pecan crunch ice cream 20 to 36 people; starting at $54 Tuscan farmhouse décor with soaring cathedral ceiling; Hudson River and gardens view Enjoy cocktails on the outdoor patio, surrounded by beautiful flower, vegetable, and herb gardens in the warm weather months. The patio is covered and heated in the fall.
One Restaurant
(914) 591-2233
American cuisine with a focus on seafood. Try the crab-fritter appetizers and a raw bar platter piled high with shrimp, lobster, and crab. Up to 60 people; starting at $65 per person Exposed bricks and ceiling beams create a warm and stylish setting. Unique food in a unique location in a former factory, with 15-foot-tall ceilings and oversized windows
La Panetière
(914) 967-8140
Contemporary French. Tournedos of halibut with a seaweed crust and vegetable pearls or the filet of beef with a Bordelaise sauce are among the choices. Up to 50 people; from $68 per person for a three-course dinner; $5,000 minimum The plates, paintings, and furniture all hail from Provence. Owner Jacques Loupiac added an imported greenhouse to the private dining room creating a light and spacious garden-like atmosphere that can’t be beat.
Tarry Lodge
Port Chester
(914) 939-3111
Contemporary Italian. Pappardelle Bolognese, grilled lamb chops with roasted shiitakes, chocolate cake with bitter oranges, and pistachio gelato are available. 50 to 65 people; from $100 per person with beverages This 100-year-old renovated building has gorgeous crown molding and marble details. Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, both legends in the culinary world, have brought their expertise to Westchester to create a true trattoria experience.
The Willett House
Port Chester
(914) 939-7500
Steak at its best; prime beef only 20 to 50 people; prices start at $45 per person Exclusive country club ambience; paintings and drawings of fox hunts; pewter plates The Willett House, in a former grain mill, is the original prime steakhouse in the county. Its 1200-degree broilers will cook your steak to sizzling perfection.
X2O Xaviars on the Hudson
(914) 965-1111
Contemporary American. Menu features rib eye with a brown sugar-and-cayenne crust and miso-glazed king salmon. 30 to 80 people; starting at $60 per person Color-washed silvery cream-colored walls, colorful oil paintings plus two walls of windows You just can’t beat the river views from the GWB to the Tappan Zee combined with the exquisite cuisine of Chef Peter X. Kelly.
(914) 376-6500
Italian. On the menu: penne a la grappa with pancetta; beef short ribs with polenta bianca; mascarpone cheesecake with sautéed strawberries Up to 30 people; from $75 per person A European-style cantina with original bricks, a terracotta tiled floor, and antique onyx chandeliers. The restaurant uses old-school flavors in a new-school way to create outrageously delicious and inventive Italian fare. Two-hundred fifty wines by the bottle and 25 by the glass—all at reasonable prices.


Also Consider…

White Plains, (914) 949-3500

Bistro Twenty-Two
Bedford Village, (914) 234-7333

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Le Château
South Salem, (914) 533-6631

La Cremaillere
Bedford, (914) 234-9647

Emilio’s Restaurant
Harrison, (914) 835-3100

Briarcliff, (914) 923-3100

Harrys of Hartsdale
Hartsdale, (914) 472-8777

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Il Sorriso
Irvington, (914) 591-2525

Larchmont , (914) 834-5555

White Plains, (914) 421-5012

Peter Pratt’s Inn
Yorktown, (914) 962-4090

Ruby’s Oyster Bar & American Bistro
Rye, (914) 921-4166

Sam’s of Gedney Way
White Plains, (914) 949-0978

Port Chester, (914) 933-0200

Tango Grill
White Plains, (914) 946-6006

The Tap House
Tuckahoe, (914) 337-6941

Tavern at Highlands Country Club
Garrison, (845) 424-3254

Traveler’s Rest
Ossining, (914) 941-7744

Valley Restaurant at the Garrison
Garrison, (845) 424-3604

North Salem, (914) 669-5450

Whitby Castle
Rye, (914) 777-2053

Laura Joseph Mogil is a freelance writer residing in Briarcliff Manor.

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