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Wedding Rehearsal dinner ideas?

My nephew is getting married in a few weeks, and my brother has just informed me that my duties include cooking the post-rehearsal dinner for the wedding party, family and friends (probably about 30 people).

I don't mind, but the catch is: I only fly into town the night before, and will have to do all the shopping and cooking on the day.

We won't know exactly what time dinner will be served, so I need to make something that can sit pretty much indefinitely.

Any suggestions will be more than gratefully received!

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  1. Sounds like a job for roast beef. It's big, doesn't need to be marinated, and once it's out of the oven it can pretty much sit indefinitely. It'll stay warm for at least an hour, be lukewarm for another, and everyone likes cold roast beef!

    The only catch is having enough time to cook it; I don't know how much time you have between rehearsal and dinner.

    Sides can all be green salads and cold pasta salad type deals.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Pei

      you could serve small roasted whole potatoes with this also: something else that is good cold or luke warm.

    2. Traditionaly the rehersal dinner is hosted by and is the responsibility if the grooms parents. If both of his parents are living they may already be making plans for this. If they are unable or unwilling to take on this responsibility I think I'd make a large green salad and have a variety of dressings in bowls, order in 6-8 assorted pizzas making sure that at leawt were veggie and hit a local bakery for cup cakes etc.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Candy

        Yup, that's my vote. Gf of mine a couple years ago got married adn all his fam had to be shipped in so the rehersal dinner was hosted by brides parents. We ordered a bunch of pizza , made a ceasar salad and a green salad had beer nad wine on ice in the bath tub. Had a blast.

      2. To turn out the amount of food you'll need in such a short period of time, I think you're going to have to rely on the oven. Roast Beef isn't a bad suggestion. Another way to go might be broiled skirt steak or flank steak. You can whack them in the oven and cook them to a medium rare (you'll have more done pieces on the ends). I've done this in the past and used the large containers of fresh salsa from the costco fresh/fridge foods section as a sauce (just heat it through and let it cook down just a bit). Other things that might do well are roasted asparagus and/or mushrooms. Whole sides of salmon from a place like costco will do ok and can also be done under the broiler. Its tasty at room temperature, though you'd need a fridge if it had to sit longer than an hour or so after it comes out of the oven. The nice thing about it, though, is that it cooks so quickly that you could wait until just moments before people were ready to eat to cook it in the first place.

        A big salad is a must, but make sure it won't be too hot where ever you're serving it or you'll have a wilted mess on your hands.

        1. Depending on your location and budget, you could always go to a nearby Whole Foods or Fresh Market and snag a variety of pre-made salads (pastas, cous-cous, chilled risottos, grilled veggies, etc) to pull out of the fridge at the last minute. Easy hors d'oeuvres will also buy you some prep time and stave off everyone's hunger - fruit and cheese display, breads, olives, etc. Grab a family member who likes to entertain and name him/her the bartender - keep the glasses full and everyone laughing while you're prepping - will buy you some more time.

          You could go really relaxed with grilling - throw on kabobs, barbecued chicken breasts, whole corn-on-the-cob, eggplant, squashes, even French bread, or a low-country boil. A fun option for dessert is a self-serve icecream sundae bar or treats from a local favorite eatery (ie, I used the famous fried pies from the Varsity for a recent Atlanta wedding - they came hot and ind. wrapped in cute retro sleeves. I've also seen Krispy Kreme doughnuts brought in late-night - another local favorite.)

          Good news for you is that in summer, you can get away with a more relaxed, casual menu. Good luck!!


          1 Reply
          1. re: erowan

            Alternate to a roast beef, a spiral sliced ham works well. Buy some bagged, prewashed greens, which can be thrown into a salad bowl (or 2 given number of invitees) and dress with homemade or bottled vinaigrette -- add crumbled bleu cheese, dried cranberries, etc. to dress-up. Also, fresh fruit salad, which can be made before and refrigerated. And, buy a few bags of frozen, peeled, cooked shrimp (26-30 per pound) and put in fridge to defrost the night before -- serve with homemade or bottled cocktail sauce. Pick up some decent bakery bread. Serve the whole thing as a buffet.

            This works well for any event where a hoard is coming to your place after some event that you are all attending - graduations, etc.

          2. Rather than doing the shopping that day, send your brother a shopping list and make sure all the ingredients are waiting for you. This will ease some of the burden on you day of, and give you more time to prep.

            Does it have to be a full-out dinner? A variety of finger foods may be easier.

            1. Good idea! Get as much help in advance as you can, especially if someone will be at the house during the rehearsal. Everyone should pitch in to help pull it off! Share your to-do list too!


              1 Reply
              1. re: erowan

                Consider getting lots of bags of ice. Borrow coolers from friends. Store them in a garage or basement. Sometimes refrigerator space is limited, and a cooler with ice can often be colder than a fridge with a ton of food and the door opened every three minutes.

              2. We need a bit more info from you. How fancy do they want this? My wife and I did a grill out with a couple salads for our rehearsal dinner. It worked well and was pretty cheap. If that is too informal, I would recommend doing mostly cold stuff. Grill a few salmon fillets and roast a turkey early in the day. Serve them cold with dipping sauces later on with a couple of cold salads and some dips (hummus, goat cheese, tapenade etc..) and bread for starters. Do a hot cobbler or crisp for dessert as the only hot dish.

                1 Reply
                1. re: kolgrim

                  I was going to suggest roasting a turkey or a few chickens.

                  Might also consider doing some pre-skewered and marinated meats, poultry, veggies, tofu, etc. then grill before, along with some cold salads as suggested (even purchased), or something couscous based might be great given the ease of prep there. Roasted veggies are great too. Big trifle for dessert would be easy, as would tiramisu.

                2. Be sure to have a backup plan in case your flight is delayed until the next day or cancelled all together. Anyone who has flown in the last few months will understand why I say this. 21 hours after arriving at the airport I was 1,000 miles the opposite direction I was planning to go.

                  1. ummm do you have to cook? can you just order? that seems like a lot for you to do and travelling can be pretty tiring? i would just go to a honeybaked ham kind of place and get a meal already to go for everyone. or else frequent a local chinese restaurant and order party trays if you can. then you can get sternos and keeps them warm... if not, then i suppose you can have someone go to costco and buy prepackaged things for you to pop into the oven... or you can get those croissant sandwiches that are already made. weddings are chaotic already, that seems like a lot of work for you, especially since you are travelling. i hope things work out! =)

                    1. Thanks for all the great ideas.

                      A few more details for those who asked: the dinner will be in a small town in Saskatchewan (in the Canadian prairies), so no Whole Foods or anything similar within reasonable driving distance... in fact, no stores at all within half and hour...

                      And my brother will be my sous-chef, so he's not trying to evade his parental obligations!