Casual Fall Backyard Rehearsal Dinner

Months before his October wedding, our son requested that we host the rehearsal dinner in our backyard. We live on the northern edge of town on a hill with a great view of sunsets, so it seemed like a good idea.

All along we planned to have the food catered, but less than a week before the event the caterer’s estimate was way higher than we chose to spend.

Meanwhile we had an unexpected (and very sad) family funeral the weekend before, and a dozen houseguests all week.

As it turned out, the guests–some of our grown children and their families–saved the day by pitching in to help cook, clean and decorate for our casual backyard rehearsal dinner.

First order of business was the food. What could we cook ahead? What was easy to cook and would still taste good after being in a warmer? We came up with this menu and it turned out amazing:

Menu for 75 people:

2 – 15 lb. Beef Briskets (how to cook easy beef brisket)

2 – Spiral-sliced Hams (wrapped in foil, heated 5 hours on high in a slow cooker, with 1/2 cup of water in the bottom of the crock)

10 lbs. Grilled Sausage

30 lbs. Mashed Potatoes and Brisket Gravy (using red potatoes so they didn’t have to be peeled)

5 lbs. frozen Corn, heated in a large pan with butter


Assorted Chips

Condiments such as pickles and BBQ Sauce

Salad and dressing

2 gallons Sweet Tea

2 gallons Unsweetened Tea

2 pitchers Lemonade

Assorted cookies, a large mixed-berry pie, chocolate cake, and Rice Krispie treats

**Note that we had plenty of food, with leftovers–but not a huge amount of leftovers. The brisket disappeared first but only after everyone had been served at least once.

We were able to borrow large electric steam warmers from our church, and they kept the mashed potatoes hot and tasty for hours. This was the biggest surprise–and relief–of the food preparation and serving. The mashed potatoes were truly amazing!

Besides putting the briskets in the oven the night before, my main job was grocery shopping and errand running for decor and supplies….and paying for everything. 🙂 Our grown kids and their spouses chipped in and worked hard and fast to get the house and backyard decorated, and all of the food cooked. EVERYONE helped, but our daughter Sarah deserves a shout-out for being the organizer and main decorator!

Yet here’s the sad part. Everyone had worked so hard, by the time the dinner started they were ready for a well-deserved break to enjoy the festivities. And all the usual photographers didn’t photograph much of the event. So here are some of the few shots we have of that night. Use your imagination and look beyond the people posing to catch a glimpse of the fun and creative decor (all I did was buy the stuff, our kids did the decorating!):

Rustic sign at the main road welcoming guests:

General view of the layout of the party:

Front porch sign to welcome guests–scarecrow and pumpkin off-screen, and a fake feathered crow sitting on a gourd looking up at the sign:

There was an assortment of insect repellents for guests:

The happy couple requested that guests wear costumes to the party, and they showed up dressed as….a bride and groom. I asked if they were characters from a movie and they said, “No, this is us in 50 years!”

Another view of the bride and groom, so you can see the lights:

Annnnd, one more pic of the bride and groom at their wedding the next day:

It was a happy, happy weekend! Thanks for taking a peek at our backyard rehearsal dinner!

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