Real Help for Real Living: I’m not a wedding planner, I’m a rehearsal dinner planner

Anthony MarcianoWhen I got married, my mother prepared the meal for the rehearsal dinner.  We ate in our backyard and my mother cooked homemade eggplant.  We enjoyed her excellent cooking and off we went for the wedding rehearsal.


Fast forward to 2012 when my son was getting married.  I was told as the father of the groom I oversaw the rehearsal dinner.  That’s easy, it’s cookout in the backyard.  My about to be daughter-in-law informed me I had to pay for the meal at the restaurant.  My only other experience at a wedding rehearsal was at a pizza restaurant and the bridal party wore shorts and tee shirts.  I told Delee if I was paying for it, I was in charge.  Since the wedding reception was very southern, I could make this very Italian.


Over the course of three children getting married, I have hosted all their wedding rehearsals.  I take all the guests through Italian traditions that have been done from generation to generation.


The evening begins with the couple sawing a log in half.  This is to test if they can work together.  Since none of the restaurants allowed us to bring in a two man saw, we had them assemble Lego sets.  At Ed and Christin’s rehearsal dinner, I added a timed test.  They had to assemble it before we finished singing along with Dean Martin to the song, “That’s Amore.” At Will and Maria’s dinner, they had to braid three cords into one.  Will handed it to Maria and she got it done immediately.


Next item was the antipasti.  For Anthony and Delee’s dinner, I brought in prosciutto wrapped around honeydew from home.  It symbolized the sweetness and bitterness of marriage.  Great idea, but the prosciutto went gray since it sat for hours before the dinner.  It didn’t look good and no one ate it.


After the meal, there is a lot of singing.  At each dinner, the groom and the groomsmen sang, “My Girl” by the Temptations to the bride to be.  We added Christin singing “My Guy” to Ed as the last one. When Maria got married, Will and the groomsmen sang “Maria” from West Side Story to her.


At our last rehearsal dinner, we added the song, “Funiculi, Funicula.”  It’s a great, fun loving Italian song.


At Ed and Christin’s dinner, I also added the Venetian Table.  I wanted it to be special.  The restaurant allowed us to bring in a display of Italian cookies (156 to be exact).  There was also 36 crème filled pastries including cannoli.


We wrapped it up with the Tarantella.  It is the most frenzied way guests wish the about to be married couple good luck.  Dancers hold hands and race clockwise until the music speeds up and then they reverse directions.  The tempo and direction continue to change until the group succumbs to the speeding music in a dizzy dog pile.  I had more people ask if we were going to be laying on top of each other.  We didn’t.


Why do this?  I am grateful to Delee who started me down this path over five years ago.   Each dinner was built on a foundation that was invisible to the eye.  But to the heart, it said, “We love you and we want the very best for you.  You are more than a son-in-law or a daughter-in-law, you are now family.  This is our way of welcoming you to the family.”


I’m out of kids to marry off.  But if your son or daughter is getting married, call me.  I’ll tell you how to make a memorable rehearsal dinner that is so much more than just the food.