How to Plan a Rehearsal Dinner

posted by ally

There are so many fun celebrations and events that come before the big day – engagement parties, showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and more – but there’s one that will surely kick off the weekend for your wedding in the Washington DC area with a bang: the rehearsal dinner! Yes, the day (or two!) before you and yours say your “I do’s,” there’s a practice run and a party to celebrate. But where do you begin planning? Who pays for this shindig? Where do you host it? And who hosts it? That’s where we, your fairy blog mothers, come in! We asked some of the top wedding planners in the Washington DC area for their professional insight on how they advise their clients to plan a wedding rehearsal dinner. Here is what they had to say…

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Photo Credit: Deb Lindsey Photography from Virginia Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

Who Pays and Plans

“Whoever pays gets to decide the size/budget for the event. This can be hard for couples to let go of, but the rehearsal dinner really is not their night. We often remind clients that their mother-in-law will be in their life long after the rehearsal dinner and to tread lightly!” — Aimee and Cindy at A. Dominick Events

“Traditionally, the family not paying for the wedding hosts the rehearsal dinner.  However, it is perfectly acceptable for others to host.” – Vicky, owner of Event Accomplished

Where and When to Host

“A local restaurant or private conference room at a designated hotel are great choices for the rehearsal dinner. Certainly, the local restaurant is the most stress-free option as all of the food and drinks are handled by the restaurant. A private conference room would require hiring a caterer and decorating the space. Your wedding planner can certainly assist with either option.” — Shawn at TreBella Events

“It’s usually easiest to have it following the ceremony rehearsal since everyone will probably be in town already for the wedding. Try to find a location close to the actual rehearsal so it’s easy for everyone to get there on time… walking distance is even better! It is a great way to thank everyone for being a part of your big day!” – Jennifer of Elegantly Chic Events

Who Gets an Invite

“Always make sure that the wedding party and immediate family members are invited. Make sure that the folks that are in your wedding party are able to invite their significant others as well. Then – if you have enough space – invite your out of town guests. Always try to have your rehearsal dinner near where the ceremony will actually take place.” — Katie at Elegance & Simplicity

“Remember to invite the officiant to your rehearsal dinner. S/he may not accept your dinner invitation, but you should definitely invite him or her.” — Kay at Howerton + Wooten Events

“For those who prefer to keep the rehearsal dinner on the smaller side, our clients opt for a smaller rehearsal dinner with the wedding party and immediate family, but then follow that with a welcome reception, to which all of the wedding guests are invited. It’s a great chance for the couple to socialize with guests and for guests to get to know each other prior to the wedding.” — Sara at Bella Notte

“One interesting trend I’m seeing more of is couples inviting their photographer and/or wedding planner to the rehearsal dinner. I don’t always have time in my schedule to accept these invitations, but I do like having that opportunity to get to know the wedding party and family members before the wedding day, especially when the wedding party is very large. If you invite your photographer, then don’t expect him or her to take photographs at your rehearsal dinner. If you want the rehearsal dinner professionally documented, then add it to the photography contract and pay your photographer accordingly.” — Stephanie at Pretty Entertaining

Be Creative

“We think the rehearsal dinner is a great way to be fun and flirty with a theme or expose your guests to a love of crabs, or BBQ that the couple has. Leaving the formality of a sit down dinner to the wedding day, allows creativity and a unique rehearsal dinner to flow freely.” — Laura of Events in the City

“More and more of our clients are having smaller rehearsal dinners, including immediate family and wedding party, and then a welcome party that includes all wedding guests.” — Elizabeth at Elizabeth Duncan Events

More Tips + Advice

“I’m a firm believer in not letting the rehearsal dinner stress you out. Talk to your in-laws. Do they just want to write a check and let you make the plans? Do they want to make all of the plans? If so, tell them what you were hoping for, then, honestly, let it go. They know what you want, and hopefully they’ll go in that direction, but if they don’t, don’t let it stress you out—you have other things to worry about! Offer your opinion when it’s asked for, have your fiancé stand up and say something if things are going off the rails, but in general, it’s their party—just let them have this one!” — Rebecca at Blue Canary Events

“If you have a lot of out-of-town guests expected at your rehearsal dinner, then it can be a fun time to showcase the DC-area for them. For example, you might choose a dinner cruise on the Potomac, or a meal at your favorite winery. Be as creative as you like.” — Stephanie at Pretty Entertaining

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Looking for more rehearsal dinner advice? Be sure to read:

Are you looking for more local wedding ideas? Be sure to look through our DC area wedding idea galleries and find wedding advice from local DC area pros. If that isn’t enough, check out our collection of local DMV weddings from the real world and the best DC area wedding vendors who make it all happen.

Say It With Video

Catch those special moments and relive your wedding day everyday! Click here to find a local wedding videographer.

Stress-Free Destination Weddings in Mexico

posted by julianne

You know that we love weddings in the Washington DC area, but sometimes you just gotta get away! If the stress of planning a wedding around here is too much, or maybe you’ve had dreams of you and your partner alone on a beach – whatever the reason, let me introduce you to Apple Vacations. More specifically, let me tell you about Crown Paradise Club resorts in Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

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With a quick, non-stop flight from the DC area, you and your partner can be on the beach at one of the Crown Paradise Club’s resorts saying your vows in, well, paradise! Dreamy sunsets, cocktails in hand, just a few close friends and family, not having to worry about planning. It sounds amazing! And with Apple Vacations you can be sure that your destination wedding and the planning of it is fun and stress-free.

Crown Paradise Resorts has a “platinum package” where you can get all sorts of upgrades and specials just for your wedding. The platinum package has everything you need for the romantic wedding of your dreams – a suite for you to stay in, a minister, audio equipment, cake, flowers, hair styling, massages, champagne! All you have to bring is your partner and your flip flops!

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A wedding in the big city isn’t for every couple. There are certain stresses to planning a wedding in the DMV, not to mention the cost! With Apple Vacation’s Group-Ease program, you can enjoy great promo-code discounts for groups as small as 10 guests! You can even get airfare credits on exclusive vacation flights and a free hotel stay if you book 10 or more rooms.

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Maybe you want to get away from it all? Maybe you want to give your guests a little vacation? If you have ever thought about saying “I do” in paradise, make sure you check out Apple Vacations and their Crown Paradise Club resorts in Mexico. Their wedding specialists take care of all of the details so that all you have to do is relax and get married (if that is possible)!

This post was sponsored by Apple Vacations.

Location, Location

The DC area has so many fabulous wedding venues! Click here to use United With Love’s guide to find your wedding spot.

Elegant Ballroom Wedding Reception in Washington DC: Anna + Bryce

posted by ally

Welcome back to Anna and Bryce’s timeless ballroom wedding in Washington DC. Now that you’ve had the chance to soak in all the pretty from their traditional wedding ceremony, it’s time to pour over the pretty (purple!) details from their reception. Their classic soiree, planned to perfection by Janice of Bellwether Events and captured by Connor Studios behind the camera is sure to leave you dazzled! I’m also loving their vintage DC postcard guest book – I really need to start collecting some!

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From Anna: I used different shades of purple – from pale lilac to orchid to dark indigo; silver highlights in the linens, curtains and table settings, pops of white and green.

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During the reception, instead of a guest book, we found vintage DC postcards, addressed and stamped them and asked guests to take one and mail it to us throughout our first year.

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Lighting was very important to create the desired atmosphere. We used uplighting around the room, on the columns and pin lights on each table during the reception.

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For guests staying overnight, each received a box with a treat from Georgetown Cupcake, small bottle of champagne, Route 11 chips, a map of the area, a door hanger and small convenience packet. And at the end of the evening, we hired a food truck to serve lobster rolls to all of the guests.

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Anna’s wedding planning advice for other DC-area couples:

I would make a list of your top priorities for the evening and spend your money on those. Create a unique experience for you, don’t feel like you have to do anything because someone else did. We were also very happy to have a videographer- receiving that video a month after the event is wonderful.

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Thank you so much Anna and Bryce for sharing your wedding reception with us! The following Washington DC area wedding professionals contributed to their wedding:

Venue: Hotel Monaco
Officiant: Pastor Bill Shuler
Photography: Connor Studios
Videography: Girard Images
Wedding Planner: Bellwether Events
Floral Design: Nature of Design
Stationery: Digby & Rose
Calligraphy: Meant to Be Calligraphy
Bridal Attire: Anne Maier Couture from Hitched Salon
Shoes: Jimmy Choo
Veil: Hitched Salon
Catering: Poste Moderne
Cake: Fluffy Thoughts
Food Truck: Red Hook Lobster Roll
Lighting: John Farr Lighting
DJ: MyDeejay

For more vendors, please visit our Washington DC area wedding vendor guide and for even more local ideas visit our wedding inspiration galleries or check out our other Washington DC area real wedding features.

Photo Credits: Connor Studios

These vendors are member of United With Love's local guide. Click here for membership info.

DMV’s Best Wedding Pros

Click here to let’s the best wedding professionals in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia help to plan your wedding!

Elegant Ballroom Wedding Ceremony in Washington DC: Anna + Bryce

posted by ally

For those of you dreaming of a timeless ballroom wedding in Washington DC with pops of purple, you’ll be counting yourself lucky for this morning’s wedding. Anna and Bryce wanted to embrace the city chic elegance of the DC-area with their quintessential wedding planned to perfection by Janice of Bellwether Events. See it all captured by Connor Studios right here…

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From Anna: Bryce grew up in the DC area and I moved here 7 years ago and quickly fell in love with it. We wanted to invoke the city elegance but also keep an intimate and fun atmosphere for our guests.

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My mother passed away when I was 15 so it was important for me to have it close to me. Her favorite flower was a pale lilac colored flower that was incorporated throughout the florals. My father took her wedding ring diamond and made it into a necklace for me.

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Thank you so much Anna and Bryce for sharing your wedding ceremony with us! Be sure to come back later this morning to see their reception. The following Washington DC area wedding professionals contributed to their wedding:

Venue: Hotel Monaco
Officiant: Pastor Bill Shuler
Photography: Connor Studios
Videography: Girard Images
Wedding Planner: Bellwether Events
Floral Design: Nature of Design
Stationery: Digby & Rose
Calligraphy: Meant to Be Calligraphy
Bridal Attire: Anne Maier Couture from Hitched Salon
Shoes: Jimmy Choo
Veil: Hitched Salon
Catering: Poste Moderne
Cake: Fluffy Thoughts
Food Truck: Red Hook Lobster Roll
Lighting: John Farr Lighting
DJ: MyDeejay

For more vendors, please visit our Washington DC area wedding vendor guide and for even more local ideas visit our wedding inspiration galleries or check out our other Washington DC area real wedding features.

Photo Credits: Connor Studios

These vendors are member of United With Love's local guide. Click here for membership info.

Sparkle & Shine

Using United With Love’s vendor guide, click here to find the perfect wedding sparklers at the area’s jewelry shops.

President’s Day

posted by julianne

Hi there! I hope that you are staying bundled up and indoors this President’s Day holiday! Brrrrrr! We are taking a little break today, but we will be back tomorrow with another great wedding in the Washington DC area.

Here are my two favorite presidential themed wedding details that we had on the blog. Both just pop into my head when I think about President’s Day. Don’t you love this wallpaper from Hotel Monaco in DC? It is so iconic!

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Photo Credit: Sweet Tea Photography from Jessica and Ian’s wedding in DC

And these presidential themed table numbers, well, there are no words! Just gorgeous and definitely for the history buff in all of us.

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Photo Credit: Jessica Schmitt Photography from Alison and Dave’s wedding in DC

Have a great day off, stay warm and if you are doing some wedding planning today, be sure to start here. See you tomorrow!

All About The Dress

There are so many beautiful wedding dress choices! Click here to check out the many local bridal boutiques in the Washington DC area to help you find your dream dress!

Sunday Brunch: Birds of a Feather Photography

posted by kate

Good morning DC area wedding lovers! Are you ready to spend another Sunday morning with one of our great sponsors? Meet Birds of a Feather Photography – a mother and daughter team (how awesome is that?!) based out of Southern Maryland. Maggie and Betty frequently travel, exclusively photographing weddings and engagements. Their approach to their work is a way that best suits engaged couples looking for natural, beautiful wedding images. Combining photojournalism and fine art photography, their goal is to provide couples with a collection of photographs that tell the story of their wedding day. Birds of a Feather takes on a limited number of weddings per year so they can provide a unique experience for each couple they work with. For more on Birds of a Feather Photography, be sure to visit their website or check out all of their past features on United With Love.

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Photo Credit: Birds of a Feather Photography

We hope that you’ll check out Birds of a Feather Photography for your wedding photography needs in the Washington DC area. Join us again next weekend for Sunday brunch with another fantastic supporter of United With Love! We’ll see you back here bright and early Monday morning! If you are interested in joining us for brunch on United With Love, please send us an email.

Hey, Mr. DJ!

Keep that dance floor packed! Click here to use United With Love’s vendor guide to find the right local DJ for your wedding.

Will Your Be Ours?

posted by julianne

Hope that you and yours have an amazing Valentine’s Day! Don’t forget to tag your weddings and planning with our #loveunitedwithlove hashtag! This Valentine’s Day themed cake made by Kendall’s Cakes is so sweet and perfect…

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Photo Credit:The Observatory from a Valentine’s Day bridal shower brunch

Say It With Video

Catch those special moments and relive your wedding day everyday! Click here to find a local wedding videographer.

Washington DC Marriage Proposal: Brittany + Na’lm

posted by ally

Not only is tomorrow my favorite holiday, but it’s also the perfect day for popping the question! (I hope my boyfriend is reading this and can take a hint!) So, since love is in air on this wonderful Valentine’s Day Eve it’s only fitting that we share a real Washington DC marriage proposal caught on camera! Natarsha Wright Photography was on hand to capture the magical moment Na’lm asked for Brittany’s hand in marriage. I may or may not have cried. This is a judgement free zone right?

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Want to see more proposals? Check our other Washington DC area wedding proposals or advice on how to propose. If you are planning a wedding in the DC area, we’ve got it all covered! From tips and advice form DC area wedding pros, a real wedding gallery for beautiful Washington, DC area weddings and loads of inspiration in our DC area wedding idea galleries.

Photo Credits: Natarsha Wright Photography

Location, Location

The DC area has so many fabulous wedding venues! Click here to use United With Love’s guide to find your wedding spot.

Instagram Contest Going on Right Now!

posted by julianne

Do you like J.Crew? Yeah, us too! I’m just popping over here on the blog to invite you to our Instagram page right now. Bridesmaids dresses, your wedding dress, jewelry, oh my! So many pretty wedding things at J.Crew. We teamed up with some amazing wedding bloggers through out the country to host a little giveaway to J.Crew. See ya over on Instagram right here!

Instagram-contest

Deals & Discounts

Looking for a little price break? Click here to check out United With Love’s list of local discounts for your wedding day.