The party before the party can vary from classic to casual.

This story first appeared in the Fall/Winter 2018 issue of Columbus Weddings, published in June 2018.

It wasn't difficult for Victoria Hutta and Daniel Magness to decide where they wanted to hold their rehearsal dinner on Aug. 25, 2017. “We choose Lindey's because we had several date nights there, so it was special to us,” says the bride, now Victoria Hutta-Magness.

Not only had the pair spent many memorable evenings at the German Village landmark, the restaurant also offered something else the couple valued: privacy. The eatery features an upstairs dining area complete with a private bar, so revelers needn't worry about outsiders interfering with their experience.

“The ambiance at Lindey's is great,” says Hutta-Magness. In addition to soft candlelight and comfortable surroundings, the food itself was excellent, she adds.

Her tip for ensuring wedding parties are successful at securing hard-sought spaces, such as Lindey's, for their special events? Start planning early. Schedule meetings as far in advance as possible to increase the likelihood that your date is available.

Concerns about whether popular locations were available were not an issue for John Shaffer and Becky Fluke (now Becky Shaffer). The couple hosted their Oct. 13, 2017, rehearsal dinner in the backyard of their Westerville home.

According to Becky, several factors went into their decision. First was cost. “We went all-out for the wedding day—appetizers, food, dessert table, ice cream truck, after-hours pizza—so I wasn't super interested in spending a ton on the rehearsal dinner,” she says. Also, many out-of-towners, some with children, attended, so hosting at home injected flexibility into the event.

But that's not to say that anyone left the party hungry.

The couple opted to have City Barbeque cater their rehearsal dinner, and Becky says she could not have been more pleased. “I was able to order ahead online, have my sister-in-law go pick it up and it was all there and ready to go when we were done rehearsing,” she says. “And who doesn't love City Barbeque?”

According to Randy Arehart, regional catering sales manager for City Barbeque, an increasing number of couples rely on the regional chain for their rehearsal dinner eats. In fact, in his five years with the company, he's seen a rise in catering orders not only for rehearsal dinners, but for weddings as well.

To what does he owe this phenomenon? “The food may be casual, but the experience is delicious, satisfying and affordable. Don't confuse elegance with deliciousness,” he says.

When it comes to your own rehearsal dinner, there's no right or wrong answer. As long as the food is good and the aesthetic matches your vision, you're sure to set up an evening that's (almost) as special as the day that follows.