With all that time (and money) being spent on planning a wedding, a rehearsal dinner may seem like an afterthought. After all, how do you strike that balance between starting off the wedding celebration with a bang and also not upstaging the main event?

Here are four fun, unique rehearsal dinner ideas to do just that:

1. Host a backyard BBQ blowout.

Who says a rehearsal dinner has to be at a restaurant? While a sit-down dinner might be traditional, couples are going more casual with backyard bashes. Invite your family and friends home and let the creativity flow. Bring out the buckets of beer and cue up the ‘cue (go for a potluck to get guests involved and to save a bit of cash, or hire a caterer or food truck).

2. It’s Mexican fiesta time!

There’s a reason folks go crazy for make-your-own taco or burrito bars at restaurants. Let your guests get their grub exactly how they want it with a Mexican-themed taco bar, like the one Heather and Charlie Hagy set up for their summer rehearsal dinner. Because their wedding was casual, with a tented reception serving burgers and brats, the suburban Chicago couple also wanted a casual rehearsal dinner to match.

The couple included a variety of homemade taco fixings along with a themed photo booth complete with sombreros.

“I think the best part about the rehearsal dinner was all the thought that went into making it so unique,” says Heather Hagy. “Our guests loved it, too, and said it was a breath of fresh air compared to other rehearsal dinners they'd been to in the past.”

3. Break out the activities, from bocce to bowling to bags.

Whether you’re thinking backyard BBQ or restaurant affair, don’t forget about the activities and games. Set up corn hole or bags in the yard, bring out the beer pong table or look into restaurants that offer all that and more. Think venues like bowling alleys or adult arcades, or other “eatertainment” venues that combine food with games and fun.

4. Make it wine or beer o’clock.

Make alcohol the star of your rehearsal dinner by looking into venues like neighborhood breweries or area wineries. Since many already offer them, you can always include a tour or tasting to begin the night.

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