Biaggi's Wine Room makes for a perfect rehearsal dinner venue

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Rehearsal dinners are a lovely wedding tradition which gives the bridal party, family members and close friends the opportunity to celebrate the couple in a more intimate way before the hustle and bustle of the actual wedding.

For this reason, today’s couples are opting for smaller, and sometimes more casual, rehearsal dinner options. While rehearsal dinners are customarily hosted by the groom-to-be’s parents, the evening should reflect the happy couple and be a cohesive extension of the main event the following day.

When planning the rehearsal dinner, consider the desired vibe and tone of the event, as well as the location’s proximity to where the wedding party is staying or the actual rehearsal itself. Restaurants with large tables or private rooms are well-equipped to handle rehearsal dinners with ease. On the flip side, unique spots such as breweries or wineries, a beautiful public park or a suitable backyard can bring a more convivial ambiance to the celebration.

Biaggi’s
Big Italian dinners are known for being robust, hearty, lively family events, and when feeding a large crowd, pasta is perfection. The high-end Italian fare of Biaggi’s is always a popular choice for rehearsal dinners. The restaurant offers an authentic menu of food, drinks and desserts in an elegant, inviting environment. The special event room can seat up to 100 guests and can be divided for semi-private events for under 50 people. The room comes equipped with a drop-down projector screen and data port for a wedding-themed presentation and is tastefully appointed with mahogany wine racks and a charming stone fireplace. The wine room, which seats up to 24 guests, feels like a Tuscan wine cellar and is a more intimate option with an exquisite banquet table and wine displays. Settle the bridal party and family members in the chosen private room and let the Biaggi’s staff do the rest, filling the table with crisp salads and savory soups, fresh pasta or pizzas. The menu also features gluten-free dishes and a popular kids dishes. Cap the evening off with the famous desserts of Italy such as tiramisu, classic créme brulee or bomboloni, cinnamon sugar doughnuts topped with caramel sauce and vanilla bean gelato. 4010 W. Jefferson Boulevard, 260.459.6700, biaggis.com

The Hoppy Gnome
Known for its flavorful tacos, small plates, tortas, salads and comprehensive selection of craft beer, wine and house-made cocktails, The Hoppy Gnome is one of Fort Wayne’s most popular and lively restaurants. The eatery has a “scratch” kitchen, which means the staff can modify dishes and cater to the individual needs of its customers. The Hoppy Gnome’s tacos are the main event, with over 10 zesty combinations, including the Dante’s Inferno (which is topped off with the infamously fiery Seven Levels of Hell hot sauce). The rest of the menu offerings are just as appetizing with fresh, inventive dishes as well as a superb kids menu. In its banquet rooms in the GnomeTown brewing space just across the lobby from the restaurant, the crowd-pleasing downtown establishment can host a multitude of private events. Feed rehearsal dinner guests delicious fare in the unique space, which has communal tables for up to 64 guests within view of the brewery’s bright, shining brewing tanks. If more space is needed, the boiler room can seat up to 24 more guests and is equipped with a 42″ TV and audio capabilities perfect for an entertaining video of the couple. GnomeTown Brewing also offers brew sessions for groups, where guests get to have fun brewing –and naming — their own beer. The finished product takes two weeks to ferment, so the happy couple can pick up their custom brew after the wedding to stock their newlywed nest. 203 E. Berry Street, 260.422.0070, hoppygnome.com.

Eddie Merlot’s
As one of Fort Wayne’s premier fine-dining establishments, a rehearsal dinner at Eddie Merlot’s is sure to be a stylish and grand event, setting the tone for the big day to follow. The restaurant is well-known for its fine cuts of prime-aged steak and fresh selection of fish and seafood, plus tasty salads and delectable appetizers. The Merlot Room can seat up to 70 guests and centers around a graceful stone hearth and floor-to-ceiling curtains at the six windows grace the room with natural light. The intimate/semi-private area is perfect for smaller events of up to 20 seated guests. The Cabernet Room has a relaxed vibe with chic leather club chairs, flat screen TVs and private patio access, with seating for up to 40. In addition to the private event rooms, Eddie Merlot’s has curated an extensive array of private dining menus and packages. The packages are priced per person for dinner, lunch and even breakfast celebrations. Couples can also choose from an assortment of passed hors d’oeuvres, beverage and carving stations packages. 1502 Illinois Road South, 260.459.2222, eddiemerlots.com

Father John’s Brewing Company
For a truly unique, destination rehearsal dinner experience, Father John’s in Bryan, Ohio is worth the trek. The historic church, once abandoned, is now the area’s premiere restaurant, brewery and venue. The beautiful structure is captivating, and its one-of-a-kind decor is interactive and charming. The menu features its own microbrews, dishes made from locally-grown produce and the owner’s ethically-raised bison from his nearby Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve. Guests will love to tour the various spaces, checking out all the interesting details. Father John’s private dining rooms include The Round Room, the Chef’s Table, the Crypt Room (with a real and occupied coffin underneath the table) and the Camel Room which features plush cushion seating on the floor. Father John’s also offers larger private dining and event spaces, such as inside the Parsonage, the secret Cardinal’s Study and the Sanctuary. Make getting there part of the fun by renting a party bus. 301 W. Butler Street, Bryan, Ohio, 419.633.1313, fatherjohnsbrewery.com

Backyard BBQ

Tap celebration experts All Occasion Party Rentals to set up a tent in the backyard (or other outdoor space) for a fun-filled evening. All Occasion’s wide selection of high-quality, white tents are attractive and durable and can be customized in size and style. The rental company can also stock the tent with tables, chairs, stunning entryways, centerpieces and other decor, as well as beautiful lighting options, restroom trailers and dance floors. 260.484.3964, alloccasionpartyrentals.com

Shigs In Pit can supply the affair with its hassle-free catering. Choose from the restaurant’s award-winning BBQ options or create a custom menu for a tasty meal everyone will love. Shigs In Pit’s smoked meats, comfort food sides and delicious desserts can be arranged for pickup or delivery, as well as cooked on site, depending on size and budget for the event. The restaurant can also provide bar service, thanks to its partnership with Mad Anthony Brewing Company. 260.387.5903, shigsinpit.com

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