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4 Tips for Planning an Autumn-Inspired Rehearsal Dinner

The sky's the limit!

Contributing Writer
Pumpkin place setting
Photography by: Catherine May Taylor Photography

If you're tying the knot in the fall, there's a good chance you're pretty fond of the season. Whether you love the changing foliage, crisp temperatures, seasonal flavors, or autumnal holidays, your rehearsal dinner is the perfect opportunity to highlight the hallmarks of the season you like most. Since there aren't strict rules for this pre-wedding party, the sky's the limit when it comes to themes, venues, and décor. If you're looking for seasonal ideas for your own fall rehearsal dinner, you're in luck. We asked some of our favorite wedding planners to share their best ideas for planning the ultimate autumnal celebration. 

 

Related: Unique Fall Wedding Color Palettes That Celebrate the Season

 

Serve a seasonal menu.

There's no better way to highlight your fall date than by serving seasonal cuisine at your rehearsal dinner. Start by welcoming guests with fresh apple cider, then serve entrées like butternut squash soup, pot roast, and roasted root vegetables during a seated dinner. If a buffet is more your style, consider having a relaxed BBQ in your backyard, but plan to serve upgraded versions of your favorite cookout fare. Pulled pork and brisket sliders, truffle mac and cheese, grilled autumnal fruit, and fall-inspired pies are all tasty and crowd-pleasing options.

 

Make the setting fall-inspired.

If the weather is right, plan an outdoor rehearsal dinner. Your guests can enjoy the crisp temperatures and beautiful foliage while they dine. Get the ambiance just right by stringing twinkle lights from the trees and placing lanterns and candles throughout the space. Hosting an indoor event? A rich, moody color palette can help drive your fall vibe home. And, if your fondest fall memories involve time spent with your loved ones, consider turning your rehearsal dinner into a family-style party. Choose long tables to foster intimate conversation and serve dinner family-style to encourage guests to get to know each other.

 

Choose seasonal accents.

Whether you top tables with a bold printed tablecloth or keep it simple with neutral table linens, bring in accents like candles, changing greenery, and centerpieces of wildflowers or other seasonal blooms. Painted leaves make for beautiful place cards, as do mini pumpkins or gourds, suggests Shannon Leahy. "We especially love the white pumpkins that are all tone on tone," she says. Acorns and pine cones are other seasonal accents the pros love. "Display them in large bowls at an entry way or incorporated into a napkin embellishment," says Alicia Fritz from A Day in May Events.

 

Keep guests warm.

Autumn nights can be chilly, so prepare to keep guests warm by renting heat lamps or lighting a fireplace. Kelsey Sheofsky, founder of Shelter Co., suggests setting up a cozy area with intimate seating and blankets for guests. "Set up a comfortable lounge area underneath an open-air tipi for an eclectic and welcoming ambiance; couches and wood benches, accented with comfortable pillows, are perfect as guests mingle over cocktails," she says.