Hill Country's laid-back Boot Bar. Photograph courtesy of Hill Country
Choosing a venue for your rehearsal dinner can be even more difficult than finding a site for your wedding. But fear not: We’re here to help. Check out some of our ideas below, and if none suit your fancy, visit our vendor guide for more suggestions.
You wanted a laid-back, down-home wedding, but your parents insisted on a formal affair at the country club.
Try . . . Hill Country
We love the idea of making your rehearsal dinner the polar opposite of your wedding—if you’re having a formal wedding, a casual barbecue rehearsal dinner (and vice versa) keeps guests guessing. And a more relaxed rehearsal dinner will encourage out-of-towners to mix and mingle before the wedding. This barbecue spot’s private Boot Bar holds 125 guests for a seated dinner or 200 for a cocktail reception; the room can also be divided for smaller events. And if you’re interested in some live music, the spot’s full-time music booker can hook you up. Plus there’s nothing like brisket, beef ribs, Longhorn cheddar mac and cheese, and corn pudding to bring people from two different families together.
You’re going to Greece on your honeymoon.
Try . . . Kellari
Have your honeymoon destination inspire your rehearsal dinner venue (if you’re headed to Mexico, try Rosa Mexicano, for another example). This downtown DC Greek spot has several spaces for a rehearsal dinner, including a private dining room that seats up to 50, or the whole restaurant for 220. The menu could include spinach pie, an assortment of Greek spreads, lavraki (loup de mer), and paidakia (lamb chops), so your guests will feel like they’re heading off on that Mediterranean cruise with you (though thankfully they’re not).
You have a big sweet tooth, and wedding cake just isn’t enough.
Try . . . Co Co. Sala
Setting a guest list for your rehearsal dinner (especially if you don’t want to completely re-create your wedding) can be tricky, but we loved this suggestion from planner Jamie Sears of Simply Chic Events: “Try a small dinner for your immediate family and wedding party, then host a Champagne-and-dessert reception for all of your guests immediately after dinner.” Co Co. Sala, which specializes in desserts (and has a savory menu, too), would be a prime spot for a dessert reception for all of your guests. There are several function rooms, and the restaurant can hold up to 300.
You want an intimate celebration for just your nearest and dearest at a foodie’s paradise.
Try . . . Volt
If your crew is willing to head up to Frederick for an amazing meal, Volt is your spot. There’s a small private room that holds 12, and the chef’s dining room has a capacity of 16—plus you could rent out the lounge or the entire restaurant if you’d like. Top Chef finalist Bryan Voltaggio helms this restaurant, known for its modern cuisine.
You’ve got a big group who is very, very hungry.
Try . . . Carmine’s
If your groom’s family is insisting on inviting everyone on the guest list to the rehearsal dinner—and they all have big appetites—Carmine’s in Penn Quarter can hold up to 400 people, and there are nine private rooms for smaller events. The menu appeals to even the pickiest palette; think eggplant parmigiana, garlic bread, stuffed mushrooms, penne alla vodka, and pasta with calamari. And everything is served family-style—ideal for interfamily bonding.