Posh Preludes

Rehearsal dinners get their chance to shine.

Kellan Studios

Believing as most mothers of the groom do, that the rehearsal dinner shouldn’t get short shrift, Connie Dyer of McLean opted for an evening that would be memorably personal.

A bicycle theme came naturally, as the couple enjoys riding and her son also races, and so Dyer recruited her daughter, sister and niece to help carry out the motif in the upstairs dining room at Arcadia in Richmond, the bride’s hometown, last June. They spent months collecting vintage bicycle bells to use as napkin holders (when guests rang their bell, the couple was summoned to kiss), and they filled a rattan bicycle basket with flowers for the sideboard centerpiece. They used white metal water bottles (the sort that bikers use) as vases (pictured left), laced together and filled with white flowers to match the candles and linens. The bells made a unique memento for guests.

A Charlottesville couple, Jenny and Jeremiah Langhorne, paid homage to the groom’s Charleston restaurant roots by staging a low country boil and pig picking at Rodes Farm in Nellysford in October. Jeremiah, who is preparing to open his own restaurant in Washington, D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood, was joined by “I don’t know how many chefs,” Jenny says, to roast the pig and prepare the boil, a mélange of shellfish and vegetables poured onto paper-topped tables, for an ultra-casual rehearsal dinner presentation. “Most people hadn’t had it before, so this was their introduction” to the classic South Carolina outdoor feast, says Jenny, adding that Jeremiah was pleased to feature his favorite local farm ingredients among the food and beverages served all weekend.

Now that, for many couples, weddings are weekend events and not one day only, planners say there’s much more interest in creating a high-profile rehearsal dinner. Recently, a race-loving couple held their rehearsal dinner at the TORQUE Club at Richmond Raceway Complex; another, at the Children’s Museum of Virginia in Portsmouth. Another couple even wheeled in a wood-fired pizza oven for a riverside picnic in the Shenandoah Valley. Any creative backdrop, it seems, is appropriate for a rehearsal dinner.

Short shrift no more.

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