{Our Wedding} The Rehearsal ‘Dinner’

Want to read the first part of the {Our Wedding} series? Find it here.

I’ve mentioned before that the rehearsal dinner is not a wedding tradition that is common in the UK, but we still wanted to honor the tradition in our own way. Also, because we knew we wanted to invite all of the wedding guests (instead of limiting the invite list to immediate family and those in the wedding party as is common with most rehearsal dinners), we chose to host a cocktail reception. With the resort being all-inclusive, we felt that everyone would be fine having dinner at one of the resort’s restaurants and then we would all meet up later on Friday evening.

We did have a very short wedding rehearsal earlier in the day dressed in our best swimming attire. This gave Silvia, our wedding coordinator, a chance to let us all know what would happen for the ceremony. It was also a good opportunity for our friend who was marrying us to give us a brief outline of his ceremony and to let those doing readings know exactly when they would need to come to the front of the ceremony space. (I tried to think of a better word for this, but couldn’t as we got married on a random spot on the beach.) It was absolutely hilarious because as we were gathered in a circle listening to Silvia an older gentleman in bright multi-colored Speedos joined in to listen. A friend of mine did catch this in a photo and posted it to Instagram with the caption of ‘Honorary groomsman,’ but I feel a little weird putting it on the blog even though I’m really tempted because I want you all to see how enthralled he was in what she was saying despite him having nothing to do with our wedding!

We approached our wedding coordinator, Silvia, with this idea of a cocktail and dessert reception, and she thought it was a great idea, but had to check with their chef about the dessert portion. She also knew immediately of the perfect location at the resort for the reception, which she showed us during our visit in November. That space is a terrace off the buffet restaurant that she planned to decorate with tiki torches amidst the tropical surroundings of the resort. We could truly picture it and it was exactly what we wanted. So, that was the plan!

carnivalterraceCarnival Terrace during the day

Then, Christmas Day rolled around and the Brit, myself, and our friend went to dinner at the Mexican restaurant at the resort — how’s that for mixing it up for your Christmas dinner?! Our waiter was absolutely fabulous, so fun, and kept calling us his ‘table of beautiful people!’ (I’m sure he has a new table of beautiful people every week, but we were loving it!) We enjoyed our whole meal immensely and he made it so much better. When Friday rolled around, he was the bartender at the swim-up bar and asked us where we were eating that night. We told him we had no plans yet, so when he said he would be serving at the Mexican restaurant, we thought, ‘Why not?!’ So, he was kind enough to reserve two tables for 10 in the back of the restaurant for us. There were 24 of us that all went to dinner together, so in the end, we did have a a slightly more traditional yet informal rehearsal dinner and it turned out to be great! Because there were so many of us at dinner, our meal took a little longer than expected so we were 20 minutes late to the cocktail and dessert reception, but it didn’t matter as everyone was on island time and not too concerned.

BRrehdin

table1rehdin

table2rehdin

The Brit and I finished our meals and raced over to the terrace for the reception. As we were approaching the terrace, the doors that lead out to it were opened for us and we were both greeted with a melon cocktail, which was the ‘welcome drink’ they created for us that night. The terrace looked absolutely perfect with the tiki torches lit and the moon shining down. Scattered around the terrace were high tables lit by candles for people to gather around. There was a bar at one end of the space and a table full of dessert bites at the other side. (I didn’t take a lot of photos as I was too busy enjoying myself!) A server passed the desserts around while people were arriving. There was a great mix of desserts ranging from cheesecakes to chocolate tarts, and the whole gathering was exactly what we had imagined!

BMrehdinMe with my beautiful bridesmaids.

Everyone mingled and those who hadn’t met each other yet were introduced. It was absolutely amazing to see all of these people we love – most of whom had never met before – getting along so well. I walked up to a table full of my closest girl friends just chatting away like they had always known each other. It made my heart burst and my smile couldn’t have been bigger. I think one of the incredible things about a destination wedding is that because everyone is there longer than just an afternoon and evening – as is the case with a more traditional wedding – then people really have an opportunity to get to know one another. It’s a pretty fun time, and I say that having been a guest and the bride at a destination wedding.

Months before, I had decided to say a few words that night because we planned to keep the speeches at the wedding reception in line with the English tradition, which include speeches from the father of the bride, the groom, and the best man (in that order). About halfway through the Friday evening event with time moving very quickly as we were having such a good time, the Brit pulled me aside and suggested I give my little speech. I wanted to be sure that I didn’t just fumble through it with tears streaming down my face, so I put thought and planning into what I was going to say. Not that I really had to be worried about being embarrassed in front of this crowd, but I wanted to be composed.

We managed to pull everyone away from the amazing time they were having with some shouts and maybe even a whistle or two, and I started off by thanking everyone for joining us in this celebration and expressing how touched we were that so many of our nearest and dearest made the journey to be there with us. I maybe then might have poked a little fun at my handsome groom before I went on to thank my incredible bridesmaids, the Brit’s parents, my parents, and finally, the Brit. I think it went down well, and I even had my dad and the Brit tell me I had stolen pieces of their speeches! The bonus of going first!

Soon after, we were kicked off the terrace and continued the celebrations at the lobby bar before a large group of us made our way to the night club. It was a blast, and I think our dance party gave us all a little insight into what a great time we would have as a group the next night! The photos, which include one of my brother and the Brit embraced in a hug on the floor and another of the Brit on our good friend’s shoulders, really paint a picture of the fabulous time we had. I can’t remember what time it was, but the Brit and I (okay, it was mostly me) decided it was time for us to go to sleep. We did have a big day ahead of us in a few short hours!

brosisrehdinUs with my brother and sister-in-law

And, in case you are wondering, we had planned to stay in separate rooms the night before the wedding and try to stick with the tradition of not seeing each other until the ceremony, but we soon realized we would definitely not be able to avoid each other during the day of the wedding, so we just stayed together and it actually kept the whole thing so much more relaxed.

Next up, the WEDDING DAY!!

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My Baby Brother Gets Married, Pt. 2

We left off with the Brit and I zonked out after an exhausting day of travel and a fun reunion with family….

Regardless of how tired I was, I woke up ready to conquer the day at about 6:30 AM. Unfortunately, no one else was as eager as me to start the day, so after I texted everyone to see if they were awake and got no replies, I headed to the hotel gym in hopes of working out some of my unexplained energy. It did help quite a bit, but then I returned to our hotel room and proceeded to munch on Starburst jelly beans, which I’m sure had nothing to do with my hyperness. (Right.)

Anyway, the day involved some shopping because the Brit and I tend to flock to the mall when we’re in the U.S. to save money as everything is so much more expensive here in England. After some fun purchases, we met up with the rest of the family for a late lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings, which is your typical American sports bar. I hadn’t been to B-Dubs (as we call it) since I lived in Indianapolis five years ago, so it made me reminisce a little and miss my Indy friends! (Hi to the few that read the blog!)

Love these people…this photo just makes me laugh as we’re all posed around Jon with his beer.

This lunch was really nice because we all got to chill out and enjoy each other’s company over a few beers (pints?). While checking our IDs, the waitress had a good laugh at the Brit’s hairstyle in his driver’s license photo as she exclaimed, ‘What the?!’ Hahaha! His license was passed around for everyone to poke fun at his ‘Flock of Seagulls’-inspired ‘do in his photo. Ah, too funny. You know you’re part of the family when everyone can openly make fun of your former hairstyle choice!

(Side note:  It is interesting because I have grown accustomed to not taking my ID when we go out in England as it is never checked, so the Brit and I have to make a conscious effort to take our IDs out with us when we are in the U.S. I once made fun of him when we were out for a meal with our friends in Colorado and he didn’t have his ID, so he couldn’t order a beer. Now, I understand why it could be easy not to even consider bringing your ID out with you.)

After lunch, we had some time to kill before the evening’s festivities. This brings us to the American rehearsal dinner. The bane of my existence when American wedding traditions come up in conversation. As I explain it, people nod their heads in understanding, but I can tell they don’t really grasp the concept. Essentially, we have a rehearsal the night before the wedding, so that those involved in the ceremony know what to do – where to walk, where to stand, what to say, etc. It makes for a more seamless ceremony on the actual day.

The rehearsal is then followed by a rehearsal dinner that is traditionally hosted by the parents of the groom. As to who is invited to the rehearsal dinner, typically it is not open to all wedding guests. Instead, it is generally the wedding party and their significant others, the immediate family of the bride and groom, and in our case, some close friends and extended family. I believe it was a total of about 37 people.

The rehearsal is generally held in the actual ceremony venue, but the venue was not available on the Friday night before the wedding, so we had the rehearsal, led by the pastor performing the ceremony, where we had the dinner. Adam and Kayla chose to have have their rehearsal dinner at Dave & Buster’s, which is a restaurant and bar with an arcade attached to it. My parents had reserved one of the function rooms and we had a nice meal (I was impressed with how good the food was!) with delicious cake that had been ordered specifically in honor of the bride and groom’s honeymoon. Then, we continued to party while playing arcade games! It was so wonderful to catch up with family and friends before the wedding. (Truthfully, I think the rehearsal dinner should be adopted as tradition in the UK, but that is just my opinion!)

They are camping and kayaking for their honeymoon – the cake was incredible!

Because the wedding did not begin until 6 PM on Saturday, most of the groom’s side stayed out late! One of my best friends and her fiance were there and she and I haven’t had a night partying for years, so it was really fun for all of us!

It was such a good night with some of my favorite people!

My parents had all of the leftovers from the dinner in their hotel room, so around midnight, we had about 20 people crammed into their room chowing down until the guys (including the Brit who was adopted by all of Adam’s friends this weekend and was called ‘the foreigner’) went to a different room to have ‘bachelor party number two’ while I chilled with Mom and Dad before calling it a night around 1:30 PM.

Adam’s friends won this giant gorilla at Dave & Buster’s. I think they named it Harold, but I could be wrong. That is my dad beside it pretending to give it a Busch Light…so classy!

I promise to wrap it up in one final part…the wedding day!! Hooray!