When it comes to planning the rehearsal dinner for North Fork nuptials, wedding planner Ashley O’Neil of Southold said the occasion can range from casual to elaborate — to downright silly.
She recently planned a rehearsal dinner that doubled as a costume party. The theme was space, and the bride and groom decided to wear suits that covered their entire bodies.
“Their take was that they took up space,” Ms. O’Neil said.
The groom added a cowboy hat to his costume, the bride added a veil to hers and the couple attended the dinner and the run-through — the walk down the aisle and all — in their space-themed garb.
“It was the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen,” Ms. O’Neil said.
But those types of rehearsal dinners aren’t typical, she said, and most don’t have themes.
She said many couples who wed on the North Fork choose to have the rehearsal dinner at a restaurant on the water or in the vicinity of a vineyard. Some opt to erect tents in their own backyards, though Ms. O’Neil usually recommends holding the dinner at a venue.
“If you have it in your own backyard, you have to consider the fact that you’ll be cleaning it all up and you don’t want to be exhausted the next day,” she said.
Soundview Restaurant in Greenport is one of her venue recommendations for bigger dinners, since the waterfront restaurant offers a large space and expansive views of the Sound.
Rachel Murphy, owner and event coordinator at Soundview, said more and more couples who dine at her restaurant the night before their big day are choosing themes. She’s hosted clambakes, lobster bakes and dinners where solely North Fork food was served. One couple wanted a happy hour-themed dinner event, where guests ate sliders, chicken wings and miniature pizzas.
She said she’s also seen couples instead choose champagne brunches the morning after the wedding “to keep the party going.”
Ms. O’Neil also said Jamesport Manor Inn is a favorite venue, since the second floor provides an intimate atmosphere.
Theresa Wells, events coordinator and manager at Jamesport Manor Inn, said out-of-town guests often enjoy the “North Fork flare” of her restaurant, which is located near an orchard, a horse farm and a winery.
Ms. O’Neil said she often suggests that couples have fun with their rehearsal dinners and whip out childhood photos, or be unique and serve cotton candy instead of cake.
And she said no matter what kind of rehearsal dinner a couple plans — whether it’s casual, formal or costume-themed — the bride and groom should remember one thing: “Don’t get drunk,” she said.
“You really need to be up and ready to go in the morning and you don’t want to be tired,” she said. “Don’t stay up really late. Just relax, enjoy and laugh.”