Beyond the sea: Rehearsal dinner

6 February 2013

With a rehearsal under our belt, it was time to greet our guests and kick off our wedding weekend!

Abbott's lobster in the rough

We knew more than a year in advance that we wanted to host our rehearsal dinner at Abbott’s, a glorified lobster shack in a tiny coastal town near our hometown. It is QUITE the local landmark. It’s also a favorite with John’s family, and definitely delivers an authentic New England experience.

Some of you who know me may still be confused by this choice, as the great irony here is that I do not enjoy most seafood and do not eat lobster. But, I enjoy a beautiful coastline as much as anyone else, and Abbott’s certainly has that in spades. I also enjoy a good hot dog, which, FYI, is what I ate that night :)


When they say waterfront, they truly mean waterfront.

Arranging things with Abbott’s was simple and pleasant. I think they usually charge $100 to reserve exclusive use of the tent and the tables under it, but they actually didn’t charge us anything! We opted to have guests order off the regular menu, through the line at the window, and put everything on a tab, because their event menu doesn’t include crowd favorites like their lobster roll. Abbott’s not only agreed to stay open later for our guests (even though the rest of the restaurant would close at 6pm), but let us bring in our own drinks, alcohol, AND dessert. Highly recommended!

We sorted out most of the reservation specifics in the fall, and I always intended to craft a few items to jazz up the evening over the ensuing months. Well, those items got tacked onto the to do list for sure, but projects for that other large event looming in the distance (ahem, our wedding) kept taking precedence. Somehow we found ourselves at August 17th with exactly zero projects started, which is about when I sent a desperate email to Marget wailing for help. Kind soul that she is, she hopped right back on the project bandwagon (less than a month out from her own wedding!) and whipped this party into shape. Maybe she was in withdrawal?

tent at abbott's

custom chalkboard illustration

Photo by Nancy Ray

John’s sisters and their beaus (and parents!) got everything in order before we arrived, including tablecloths, daisy and apple centerpieces, and that amazing chalk illustration by Marget. It was such a relief, after all of the wedding prep, to walk into something simple and perfect without having to lift a finger!

preppy rehearsal dinner

Thank you again for helping me choose my dress! (Photo by Nancy Ray)

We spent the first half hour or so doling out lots of hugs. It is so amazing to see all of the people you love in one spot! On that note, let me say that the guest list for the rehearsal dinner was harder, I think, than the list for the actual wedding. Since John’s parents were hosting, we wanted to keep it on the smaller side, but when you start counting up those actually involved in the ceremony (26) plus other immediate family members who were traveling in from out of town (20) plus general out of town guests (14), things get overwhelming quickly. We hope we avoided most hurt feelings, but there were definitely some cringe-worthy moments!

nautical rehearsal dinner

These peeps were definitely on the list. So thankful for our siblings!! (Photo by Nancy Ray)

But, the hugs made up for it. Those, and the happy tears from my mom and her best friend from college when they saw each other.

Anyway, as dads do, ours kicked things off with some welcoming words.

rehearsal dinner ideas

tented dinner

Photos by Nancy Ray

After lots more chatting and some cajoling, guests began to move through the line. Meanwhile, I pretended I might order something other than a hot dog.


A Continuous Lean

Abbott's Menu

Abbott's order window

A Continuous Lean

abbott's charm

Once back in the tent, we trotted out the real star of the show — our custom lobster bibs!

Em for Marvelous

Photos by Nancy Ray

These beauties were also designed by Marget. I think the price for 50 was about $150, which is NOT cheap (we ordered from here). I seriously considered forgetting them toward the end, but I’m glad we didn’t, because I think they helped our dinner feel like an event. Even though it sounds silly, I think they also helped bring together all of these people from different parts of our life, something like an ice breaker.

custom lobster bib

We finished dinner with THE BEST apple pie. One of the nicest ladies at my childhood church owns an orchard and is a revered pie baker in my town, and a few years ago, I learned to make pies from her. She used to sell them regularly at holidays but has pulled back in recent years; however, she agreed to make a special batch for us, for which I was so grateful! Yum yum!

The last event of the evening was a presentation from my Dad. As some of you may recall from my sister’s rehearsal dinner, my dad has been collecting our “refrigerator art” since preschool, and for this special occasion, he assembled my most epic pieces into a scrapbook! The best part? For some of the more… abstract drawings, he apparently asked me at the time of creation what they were, and then wrote down my description on the back. Such a thoughtful gift! Love him.

rehearsal dinner idea

I’ll be back with our wedding morning adventures soon!

Except where noted, photos are personal or from family + friends!

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February 6, 2013 11:50 am

What an adorable and GENIUS idea! Love the whole setup and the laid back vibe! Cute and fun :-)

February 6, 2013 9:04 pm

When I saw your previous post about Noank being the location of your rehearsal dinner, I immediately thought Abbott’s!! What an awesome place and it seems like it was the perfect choice for you both :)

February 7, 2013 9:37 am

What a fantastic location! Definitely so you :) Everyone looks so happy and relaxed, and I LOVE the Lilly dress you went with!

February 7, 2013 7:19 pm

You guys are so cute – your rehearsal dinner seems absolutely perfect! By the way, I’m thinking Map & Menu needs to visit Abbott’s this summer!

February 7, 2013 7:58 pm

Love you, too! And I still agree that you/everyone picked the perfect dress for you to wear.

February 8, 2013 3:02 pm

My favorite part of your “refrigerator art” book was reading the newsletters you used to write for and deliver to your family members! A writer from a young age :)

February 8, 2013 8:46 pm

Hi Emily! My name is Maddy and just wanted to introduce myself. Natalie’s boyfriend, Joe, is my fiancé’s brother (did you follow that?!) :) I’m a blogger, as well, so just waned to say hello!! Joe’s parents just gave me the copy of Southern Weddings that featured your wedding — so gorgeous! Let the crazy planning begin!

February 24, 2013 2:49 pm

Love how your dress fit the event perfectly:)